How Cold is Too Cold?

Written by DAN Staff

Whether you use a dry suit, a thick wet suit and/or warm thoughts to stay warm in cool water, it’s important to know how cold is too cold. Diving on a blustery winter morning can be fun, but pushing your body and your exposure protection to their limits can lead to serious consequences. Help your new divers and customers avoid putting themselves in harm’s way with guidance about how to stay comfortable underwater.

Letting one’s core temperature drop too low, leading to hypothermia or a near-hypothermic state, can affect dexterity, decision-making and the body’s ability to offgas. Because one of the first symptoms of serious hypothermia is diminished awareness, many individuals fail to recognize the symptoms until another diver draws attention to them. Know what to look for in yourself and your students to reduce the risk of mild hypothermia escalating into a life-threatening issue.

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a drop in core body temperature. It can obviously occur in the arctic, but can also happen in warm tropical waters if divers have inadequate exposure protection and a long enough exposure. The condition is of particular concern for people lost at sea and those diving in extreme conditions.

A typical adult maintains a core body temperature of about 37°C/98.6°F. When this core temperature drops below 35°C/95°F, hypothermia begins to set in, and the body’s function begins to be impaired. To keep the vital organs warm, the body will shunt blood to the core. The initial symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, loss of coordination, dizziness, nausea and feelings of hunger. If the core temperature is allowed to continue dropping, at 30°C/86°F many people will stop shivering and their pupils will dilate. At 27.8°C/82°F, muscles become rigid and a serious risk of cardiac complications arises. These symptoms worsen as the core temperature drops, so it’s vital that people suffering from hypothermia are taken to qualified medical care as rapidly as possible.

Learn to Beat the Cold

Hypothermia can be serious, but it’s not something a well-prepared diver should have to contend with in all but the most extreme situations. Plan ahead with appropriate exposure protection, heat sources and a well thought-out emergency action plan if things get a little too chilly. Bring hot water to make a warm drink or warm water to pour into your wet suit between dives to make yourself more comfortable on a day that’s more winter wonderland than diver’s paradise outside. If you or a student begins shivering, terminate the dive in a safe manner and take time to warm up. Consider whether anyone who was shivering will be warm enough for another dive. If not, come back on a warmer day – there’s no sense in putting anyone at risk.

For more information on safe cold-water diving practices, visit DAN.org/Health.

Successful Promotion of Group Dive Travel

Want some tips on how to plan, organize and market the best group trips for your divers? Here’s the first of eight tips to help. Keep an eye out for more here shortly:

Destination

Where do your customers want to go? Somewhere far-flung and exotic or closer to home? Are they into marine life or are they more interested in wreck diving?

Distant, exotic destinations may require higher budgets. So, you’ll want to determine if your divers are willing to pay a premium for an unforgettable experience. If not, you may have to consider a closer or more affordable destination.

Keep in mind that the seasons strongly influence dive conditions and marine life sightings, so a suitable destination in June may not be so suitable in September.

You should consider all these questions when choosing your destination to make sure the trip is a good fit and your divers are excited about it.

One of the best ways to determine what your divers are interested in, where they want to go and even how much they’re willing to spend is to ask them. Survey your diver database to make sure you’re putting trips on the calendar that cater to their needs and interests.

PADI TRAVEL

Not a PADI Travel™ Affiliate yet? You can learn about the benefits and how to grow your business leveraging travel or activate your Affiliate account now.

How to Save on PADI Retail and Resort Membership Dues

Every year members ask, “How can I save more on my membership dues?”

Well it’s easy! Enroll in PADI Automatic Membership Renewal and you’ll receive the lowest rate for 2019. By enrolling before 5 November 2018, you will maintain uninterrupted access to PADI’s membership benefits including:

  • Online certification processing
  • Access to your dedicated regional Customer Service Team
  • PADI Pros’ Site marketing tools and more!

Sign up for Automatic Renewal before time runs out and the savings disappears.

Passion Equals Productive

Take a moment to think about what makes you productive. That is, what enables you to do things that benefit others – whether material, informational, spiritual or all three. Without productivity, success in anything can’t happen: it is, in effect, how we define success (and notice it’s not necessarily money or wealth). Some will tell you that productivity results from organization, luck and talent, but we’ve all seen disorganized, unlucky, ungifted people who produce and succeed extraordinarily. And sadly, sometimes we see the opposite. What’s the key element?

I think the musician Judy Collins put her finger on it. “Do what you love,” she said, “and you will find the way to get it out to the world.” That is, a passion for what you do is the one and only critical ingredient to high productivity. Zero in on what’s really important and productivity skyrockets, not because we do more things but because we do the right things. We stop wasting time on irrelevant (though often urgent) distractions that take us off task because we know where we’re going.

And, we work harder because we want to. Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why, wrote, “Working hard for something we do not care about is called stress, working hard for something we love is called passion.” Passion turns failures into learning opportunities, delays into new directions and challenges into creativity. If you are truly passionate about something, you don’t have to motivate yourself to be productive with it. You only have to find the ways.

In the PADI® family, there’s no shortage of passion for diving and the underwater world, and for changing the world by sharing both. It’s why we dive and how we share diving combined. PADI’s larger purpose is changing the world for the better. Every person we bring to diving adds to the political leverage and wise consumer choices we need to protect the seas and marine animals. It adds to those healed or who are able to help heal, or both, through the power of scuba. A growing dive industry creates jobs and adds new opportunities to global and local economies. And it all happens because you and I are passionate about diving. It drives us to produce. When we can’t find a way, we make a way.

The point is to nurture and preserve your love for diving, the oceans and those who share this love. It’s the key to being productive as a dive professional. It’s the heart of making the world better with diving. If teaching becomes more about getting students through mask clearing than that gleam in their eyes when they breathe underwater for the first time (believe me, I’ve been there), step back and reconnect. Make that cool dive (trip!) you’ve been putting off. Spend an hour with a buddy listening to whales sing, watching an octopus assemble its “yard” or whatever captures your fascination. Try that new suit, CCR, regulator or computer if tech is your hot button, or chase down that person who you just know will have a burning love for diving and can’t wait to get in the water.

Put first and foremost whatever makes you genuinely passionate about diving, the ocean and sharing them, and you won’t have to worry about how to be productive. You won’t be able to help it.

Written by Dr. Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO

A Force for Good: the Restorers

One thing about divers and the tenacity of the human spirit is that when we face a challenge, we size it up and then find a way over it, around it or through it. We’re handling coral stress and decline the same way. Today divers, partnering with scientists, have been at the heart of dozens of coral restoration initiatives, with research and practice in coral farming and transplanting growing and spreading. In my last blog post, I linked to the Coral Restoration Project, birthed by diver Dr. David Vaughan of Mote Marine Laboratory, who in starting some of the first coral nurseries, discovered how to grow coral 25 to 40 times faster than before. His discovery is one of the major breakthroughs we needed to start replacing coral on a large scale, and is just one example.

Jump to PADI AmbassaDiver Andre Miller MSc in Barbados. Recognizing that documenting coral damage is important but not a solution, Andre spearheaded a local effort to relocate endangered corals and to repopulate damaged heads. With a 90+% survival rate, this effort has already spread to several destinations in the Caribbean. Check out this link for locations and some amazing before and after images.

Photo: Coral Restoration Foundation™

One more example, the Coral Restoration Foundation™,  Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire and Curacao, with extensive participation by local PADI Dive Centers, visiting divers and the local dive community, their emphasis is staghorn and elkhorn corals, which are important because they provide structure and habitat, yet are listed as threatened by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Today, the Coral Restoration Foundation in Key Largo, Florida, has the capacity to grow more than 22,000 corals to a reef-ready size in one year, and has, to date, planted more than 74,000 corals back onto the Florida Reef Tract.

All the ways divers are central to restoring and reviving the underwater world could go on for pages, but three important points:

First, there’s a place for you in coral restoration. Head to tropical water and chances are the dive community’s doing it or getting it going – and needs your help because coral restoration requires divers. There is a lot of caretaking and routine maintenance to grow and transplant coral and to do this properly. Several dive operators teach PADI Coral Restoration distinctive specialties or host experiences that get you involved hands on. If you’re local and can participate regularly, even better. And, the coral colony you plant tomorrow could still be there — and much larger — when your descendants swim by on some dive in the distant future. Pretty cool.

Second, preservation is a pivotal part to coral restoration. Although restoration is accelerating, globally, coral decline is ahead. We have to address the drivers that accelerate coral loss as well as replant more to close this gap. Besides, replanting ultimately fails if new coral can’t survive anyway. So, every time you reduce your carbon footprint, recycle plastic, reduce debris, choose sustainable seafood, vote for the protection and conservation of aquatic resources and the marine environment and so on, you are helping to restore coral.

Third, we need to be realistic but also optimistic. Twenty-five million plus divers is an overwhelming force – with more than ten times the world’s largest military force, and an allegiance to a healthy, livable planet, it is a positive force that can change things. So, as I said before, the seas are in trouble, but the situation is far from hopeless because you’re on their side. We’re already moving, but let’s do more, faster. If you’re not sure where you fit in best, start your own journey and informed discussions with others.

 

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

15 Top Tips for Re-doing Your Website

According to a recent survey, 70-80 percent of potential customers will check out your website before phoning or visiting your dive shop. Having an attractive, informative, mobile-friendly website is more important than ever; unfortunately, many dive operations haven’t kept up with the times.

In addition to attracting new customers, a modern website can help retailers track the effectiveness of their online ad spend. Using a Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics and other tools, business owners can track which marketing efforts are driving sales and which are a waste of money.

Whether you need to update an outdated site or your free Wix/Weebly site no longer meets your needs, use the tips below to ensure your next website is the best it can be. In addition to the 15 top tips, there are three bonus ideas based upon evaluations of more than 50 dive center websites.

Evaluate Your Current Site Using a Website Grader
Not every website needs to be redesigned from scratch. Use a website grader such as Woorank to see what’s working on your existing page and what needs to be improved.

You’ll also be able to review backlinks (other sites that link to your webpage). If a prominent website such as a local TV station, newspaper or other large publication links to your Open Water page, you don’t want to lose that traffic because the URL changes and doesn’t redirect.

Check Your Search Engine Ranking
Open an incognito window in Google Chrome (this ensures your search history isn’t factored into the search results) and Google popular scuba-related searches such as:

scuba diving gear
scuba diving lessons
dive shop
PADI open water
scuba certification
scuba diving certification
padi elearning

Take note of where your current site ranks for individual keywords and where you’d like to rank higher. You’ll use this information when writing copy for your new site.

Establish Goals
Every business website should be designed around its core profit centers. For one dive center, that might be charters, for another it might be gear, or their IDC program. Also, jot down any new areas where you hope to grow (exotic travel, kids programs, etc.) to ensure there’s a home for these topics on your new site.

To prevent your new site from looking like a garage sale, create 3-5 sub-categories such as Equipment, Instruction and Travel. Give each sub-topic prominent placement on your homepage using a graphic so visitors looking for information on that topic can quickly navigate to what they need. In the example below, Project AWARE presents visitors with three images – each a portal to a different section of their website.

A recent study found 75% of website visitors form judgments about a business based on its web site and 94% of a user’s first impression is design-related.

In other words, even if dive equipment is your core business, don’t cover the homepage in pictures of dive gear. This is overwhelming to the eye and may confuse and intimidate new divers. Instead, use one attractive image on the homepage to act as a gateway to more information.

Who Are Your VIPs?
When deciding what content to put on your homepage, also consider who your core customers are and what they’re looking for. Here are a few ideas:

– People looking to get certified
– Travelers interested in booking boat dives
– Potential IDC candidates
– Certified divers who want to refresh or improve their skills
– Cruise ship guests
– Divers who need gear advice
– Parents interested in an summer activity for their kids

Size Up the Competition
Explore a handful of competitor websites. In addition to evaluating other dive operators, choose at least one non-scuba website. The non-scuba competitor might be a cycling store, a ski/snowboard shop or a yoga studio.

– Write down 2-3 things each website does well.
– Note 2-3 things the website does poorly (tip: check out their sites on a mobile device).
– Ask yourself, “if a competing dive center started running my business tomorrow, what would they change?”

Choose a Design That Promotes Your Profit Centers
After defining your goals, key customers, and what parts of your existing website you’d like to update, you’re ready to choose a design. Use the profit centers you’ve identified to narrow down the options. For example, a dive resort that caters to island guests and cruise ship passengers should choose a design that allows them to adequately address the needs of both website visitors.


A local dive center that wants to promote local diving and showcase activities should reserve space for both of those elements.

The site design should also be able to utilize Google Analytics and Facebook pixel code. If you’re not sure, do a quick Google search or ask your web designer.

Finally, responsive design (where the website content adjusts to the size of the user’s screen), is an absolute must. Design with mobile views in mind because there’s a greater than 50% chance your site will be viewed on a mobile device.

Customers should be able to easily navigate on a phone, tablet or desktop device. A mobile-friendly design also helps your business stay competitive; Google penalizes slow-loading, non-responsive pages with a low search ranking.

Compose Key Messages
According to a 2018 article in Inc, 70-80 of customers visit a small businesses’ website before contacting or visiting the store, so it’s critical your website 1) ranks highly in search 2) acts a 24/7 sales person.

Refer to your keyword research to identify the words or phrases where you’d like to rank at the top of Google search. Use keywords words in:

– Page titles and descriptions
– The page URL (ex. divecenter.com/learn-to-scuba-dive-your-city)
– As headlines

When a customer lands on your website, it should be 100% clear your dive operation is the #1 choice for dive equipment, instruction, charters, etc. Here are a few examples of key messages:

Small class sizes and all-inclusive pricing
Dive with the best! 5 Star ratings on Facebook, TripAdvisor and Yelp
The island’s most eco-friendly dive resort

Don’t Overbuild
There’s no way to fit all your knowledge and expertise into one website. Furthermore, the vast majority of visitors will only spend about 15 seconds scanning each page.

Make sure important info stands out by:

  • Using bullet points
  • Put key messages in bold
  • Using images or or sub-headers to break up long sections of text
    (long = 100 words or more).
  • Keep paragraphs short (2-3 sentences)
  • Avoid using industry jargon such as “confined water, knowledge development and acronyms DSD, RSTC, etc.)
  • Put important info “above the fold” in other words: don’t assume people will scroll down.

With websites, less is more. A flashy video can slow page load time and you should never assume a visitor will watch the whole thing.

That said, it’s a good idea to incorporate a few videos on your website. While only 25 percent of website visitors will read the majority of a webpage, 80 percent will watch a one-minute video in its entirety. Embed course promo videos from PADI’s YouTube channel, or create your own. In either case, make sure your webpage includes text with the same information the video provides, not everyone will watch the video, and if they do they might not have their sound on.

Make Contact Info and Hours Easy to Find
According to a study reported in Inc, 44 percent of visitors leave a website if they can’t find basic contact info such as an email address or phone number. The top right corner of the homepage is typically where a phone number should go. In the same corner, include a link to your Contact page.

The Contact Us page should include your store hours, all contact info and an embedded Google map. Your contact page is also a good place for social media icons and links if you don’t already have them in the website header or footer.

Connect and Be Compelling
Prevent website visits from being one-and-done by inviting visitors to start a relationship with you. Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter and be the first to know about trips and special offers – in addition to linking to your Facebook/Instagram/YouTube account(s).  If you don’t connect with new visitors, it’s like they were never there.

Compel website visitors to take the next step. Tell them what you want them to do and include a large, bold text link or a CTA (call to action) button.

– Schedule a free, no-obligation equipment consultation [CONTACT US]
– Small class sizes for personal attention, Reserve your spot! [SEND BOOKING INQUIRY]
– Download our guide to the top 10 local dives [GET THE GUIDE]
– What’s on your dive travel bucket list? [LET US KNOW]

Don’t Expect Website Visitors to Call for Answers
After working hard to optimize your website, you can easily lose a customer by not including key information such as how much your class cost or when classes are offered.

The age of customers picking up the phone to get this information is over. In a Sep 2018 Google article on best practices, Google shared the following findings:

More than half of smartphone users purchased from a company other than the one they’d originally intended to use because the information provided by another brand was more useful

If you’re concerned about stating the price of the course because the “guy down the road” offers it cheaper, educate customers why your course is worth the extra cost. Maybe you have smaller classes sizes, include rental gear, have a on-site pool, etc. Also consider whether the bottom-dollar customer is one you want in the first place.

Use Images of Smiling Divers
In addition to showing underwater images of your local environment, help customers visualize the fun they’re going to have and the underwater life they’ll see. Use some of your most liked images from social media, or visit the Toolbox section of the PADI Pros site to download images and videos. Quality images of divers having fun help new customers understand one of the main reasons people fall in love with diving: the people!

Create an About Us Page That Turns Visitors into Friends

The About Us page is the second most-visited page by new customers and it should leave no doubt in the customer’s mind that you are THE dive shop they should work with.

  • Include links to reviews on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and/or Yelp
  • Showcase smiling photos of your staff, list their certifications and experience  
  • Talk about why you LOVE running a dive shop
  • Share a few details about your hobbies, alma mater, pets, anything to help a website visitor relate to you as a person.
  • Reassure nervous new divers that their scuba class will be safe and fun.
  • Include testimonials if you don’t have them elsewhere.

Find the Right Web Designer
Identify some websites you like and scroll to the bottom of the page. You may find a link to the person or company who built the site.

As part of the vetting process, ensure you’ll have access to update the site whenever you want. Also find out about after-hours support and what happens if the person who built the site gets hit by a bus.

Lastly, ask if they can set up your Google Analytics/Tags and install a Facebook Pixel. These essential tools require installing small snippets of code.

Test Drive Your New Site
Because your website is likely the consumer’s first encounter with your business, make sure it makes a good first impression. Invite friends, customer spouses, grandparents, etc. to evaluate your new site, in person if possible.

Ask them to first look at your site for no more than 15 seconds. What is their first impression of your business? Next, ask them to accomplish an important task like finding out how to get certified, or reserving space on your boat. Watch their mouse movements, and most importantly keep an open mind when they give you feedback.

Website Boosters:
The ideas below will help your new website rise above the competition:

A Dedicated eLearning page
Explain how eLearning saves time and also what the additional costs are. An eLearning page is also a good place to link to the medical form and eLearning student login.

Blog
A blog can help your business establish authority in a variety of areas and crush the competition in online search. It’s important that your blog be included under your domain (ex. yourdiveshop.com/blog or blog.yourdivehop.com).

Testimonial Page
Testimonials establish trust and breakdown skepticism for website visitors who are unsure about taking the next step. They’re also a way to put some of your best customers in the spotlight. Be sure you get permission and include a photo.

AWARE Week: Activities & Events Around the World

By Tara Bradley Connell

With AWARE Week, 15-23 September, quickly approaching, it’s never too late to get your dive community in the conservation game. Here are some unique activities and events to check out for inspiration.

THAILAND: Crystal Dive Koh Tao

The eco-minded dive operator, Crystal Dive Koh Tao, plans on hosting a different event each day. Already on the agenda: beach and underwater clean ups, coral restoration, scientific research projects, and Project AWARE specialties.

AUSTRALIA: Geo Divers

This Sydney PADI 5 Star IDCs has never been shy when it comes to promoting Project AWARE Specialties. This year, the team is conducting a Kids Aware program at their local school and inviting them and their parents to participate in the shop’s Dive Against Debris® event on Sunday, 23 September, followed by a barbecue.

NEW ZEALAND: New Zealand Sea Adventures

Wellington’s PADI 5 Star IDC has always had a strong focus on rebreather and technical diving as well as educating their divers on the importance of ocean awareness. During AWARE Week, they are offering free Project AWARE Specialty Courses to their local dive community.

BAHAMAS: Bimini Shark Girl

Shark Girl Jillian Morris has been educating youth on the importance of conservation since she was a kid herself. Today, she’s a shark advocate, camerawoman, and Executive Director, Education at Oceanicallstars. This year, she’s going to continue spreading the message during AWARE Week with Sharks 4 Kids, her shark education program.

FLORIDA: Rainbow Reef Dive Center

It’s no secret that the dive community in the Keys is passionate about protecting their reefs and coastline. Rainbow Reef Dive Center, located in Key Largo, is going to host a Dive Against Debris event on 21 September for guests and local divers.

UNITED KINGDOM: The Fifth Point

Located in Northumberland, The Fifth Point has been incorporating conservation into their dive programs since they opened up shop four years ago. This year, they’re taking full advantage of AWARE Week with a beach clean up, snorkel clean, egg case hunt, Dive Against Debris, lobster release, marine talk and Dive Against Debris Specialty course.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Divers Down

We all know shark populations are rapidly declining, so Divers Down Fujairah is inviting its divers to take part in the Shark Conservation Specialty course on 22 September, in hopes of raising awareness of shark conservation issues.

 

Interested in bringing a unique event to your local dive community? For more info, or to download the AWARE Week Toolkit for help hosting an event in your area, visit the AWARE Week website.

Divers Already Make a Difference

When you hear reports about overfishing, global climate change, coral bleaching, shark finning . . . and the list goes on . . . it’s tempting to question whether the situation is hopeless. Will we have coral reefs in 30 years? Will anything be living in the seas in 50 years?

Yes, and yes. The seas face formidable challenges, but they have formidable allies – you, me and more than 25 million other divers around the world among them. It’s not just that you and your fellow divers can make difference, but that you’re already making a difference through personal efforts like recycling, responsibly consuming only sustainable seafood, reducing our carbon footprints and campaigning to protect endangered marine animals. These are vital efforts, none of which are wasted, with millions (and growing) of divers and nondivers doing these – which is great. But, compared to some outdoor groups, divers raise the bar for environmental stewardship and leadership. Beyond the forefront of conservation and preservation, divers are at the forefront of restoration.

Did you know that, working alongside scientists, divers help grow and replace coral? Use 3D printing to create artificial structures where real coral and coral species can live? Remove debris (like plastics!) from almost every dive site? Replant mangroves, sea grasses and other vegetation vital to coral and oceanic health? Use different methods to protect and repopulate turtles, fish and other species? Gather data we need to identify and implement ongoing and new solutions? Teach kids and cultures what we’re learning and that we do make a difference so that saving and restoring the planet continues, expands and strengthens? These are not small local experiments – these are fins-on-the-ground, proven-results initiatives in action.

The truth is, we face a much bigger threat than the issues facing the seas, and it is this: loss of hope. We don’t want our heads in the sand, but let’s not lose perspective amid the doom and gloom. There are thousands of healthy coral reefs and other dive sites around the world. By staying informed, innovative and engaged, we can not only visit these, but preserve them, learn from them and leverage them to rebuild and restore.

I believe in realistic optimism and hopeful future, partly because the data support them, but also because really, we have no choice. With hopelessness comes inaction, resignation and surrender, which solve nothing. Hope anchors our souls to what’s possible, to action, and to doing what needs to be done. This isn’t Pollyanna – no one expects the global environment to be like it was in 1618 – but it can be vibrant, healthy and growing. A healthy Earth with healthy seas can be the ultimate heritage we leave our children and theirs.

Literally every dive you and I make can be a step towards that goal — with that in mind, remember that 15-23 September is AWARE Week. Please join the 25 million (and growing) divers who are fighting to restore our ocean planet. If you’re not yet involved with an AWARE event, please click the link and join in: http://www.padi.com/aware-week/join.

 

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

Changing the Lives of Marines Through Diving

kathy peper at get wet scuba

By Tara Bradley Connell

As an instructor in Palm Springs, California, Kathy Peper had no idea that one day her future dive students would be some of the toughest people in the country – the men and women of the U.S. Marines Corp.

“I met some Marines that were interested in scuba diving, and for about six years I pursued the idea to the marine base, but it didn’t seem like it was going to happen,” she said. “Out of the blue, I got a call from the base asking me to teach. A week later I received a contract, and the rest is history.”

Without her dive shop on base, Peper started recruiting students at the PX – a common area on the base. Four years later, the 29 Palms Marine Base gave her a permanent location where she had access to everyone from just-out-of-boot camp to seasoned Marines and their families. To date, Peper estimates that the Marines make up 98% of her divers.

kathy peper at get wet scuba

“My goal is to service the Marines and to get them out of the barracks as a way of giving them something to do that they wouldn’t normally do,” she says. “We are a resource for the Marines but also a family. They come here and talk to me about everything.”

And she’s right. From engagement ring shopping and wedding invitations to career counseling and car repairs – with help from Peper’s boyfriend – Peper’s students tend to stick around long after their C-Card is signed. For Peper, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We keep in touch with a lot of our Marines, and many come back to dive with us for our Catalina trips,” she says. “When they’re away we stay in touch by texting or Facebook. When they’re back in town, we’ll do anything we can from storing their stuff to letting them stay with us while they get situated. It’s a community more than a dive shop.”

That family atmosphere has made such an impact that one Marine changed his last name to Peper, saying she was like a mother to him. Another credits her with saving his life by using diving to help him get out of a dark place. It’s that sense of community that has turned the base’s community of divers into a family.

With such a great response from Marines wanting to try diving, Peper was inspired to host a weekly Try Scuba event – a program that introduces Marines to diving.

How it works: After signing up online, 20 Marines are scheduled every hour for an academics overview and quiz followed by pool work to familiarize them with the gear and introductory skills.

But it’s not just about diving for this group. Peper and her team also give their Marines a little bit of old-fashioned love. Whether it’s having a peanut butter and jelly station during class or a lesson on how to make killer breakfast burritos in the barrack’s microwaves, the Get Wet Scuba team makes it their mission that the Marines feel at home. And with a 50% sign-up ratio for PADI Open Water certifications after each event, they’re making an impact.

“I could do this every month, but we have to limit the amount of students we can accept,” Peper says. “I could have 100 or 50 students a month if we had enough instructors.”

With such a high demand for instructors, Peper notes the need for other dive operators to consider reaching out and creating a positive diving community among their local Marine bases. And while it didn’t happen overnight for Peper, she couldn’t be prouder of the extended dive family she’s built through her journey.

“Once I got here I realized these people are up on the base and a lot of the guys are confined to it because they don’t have vehicles,” she says. “Many are right out of boot camp with nothing to do and away from home. They are looking for stuff to do.”

When asked how others can follow in her footsteps, Peper’s motherly advice resembles a pep talk for one of her Marines.

“You just have to reach out and find out what the opportunities are,” she says. “This is a job for someone that wants to make life better for the Marines, not just to collect a paycheck. If that’s what you want, don’t give up.”

It’s that never-give-up attitude which is why Peper has become somewhat of a matriarch for her little dive shop in Palm Springs – and been able to create a place many Marines can call home.

For more on Peper and her Try Scuba program, visit getwetscubadivers.com.

PADI® Dive Center and Resort Renewal

 

Don’t forget to mark your calendars!

PADI Retail and Resort Membership Renewal occurs every November and here’s  a few tips on how to save the most for 2019:

  • Lowest Renewal Rate – To secure the best annual renewal rate, enroll in Automatic Membership Renewal on the PADI Pros’ Site before 5 November 2018. You can find this feature on the My Account page or by using the Renewal button located on the Homepage.
  • Convenient and Cost Effective – You may renew your membership online by logging onto the PADI Pros’ Site and navigating to the Online Membership Renewal option under the My Account tab. Online Renewal provides you the ability to renew one year at a time and to enroll in Automatic Renewal for future years.
  • The Pen and Paper Method – Renewing with a paper form is still an option but why waste the paper and the time. If you’re not enrolled in auto renewal or have not renewed online, a paper renewal form will be mailed to you prior to the renewal deadline. This method will cost you more than the online methods, so strongly consider saving money and time with automatic renewal.

Don’t waste time worrying about annual membership renewals. Enroll in 2019 PADI Automatic Membership Renewal now by accessing the My Account page on the PADI Pros Site.