Every diver wishes that someone they love would get certified. For many of us, that means family members — our partners, kids, parents, cousins — that we’d most like to see in the water. Right now, the Danks family is living that dream. Everyone in this nine-person group is certified — and loving it.
Ask the Danks, and they’ll tell you that scuba is the best sport for bringing families together. They should know: At least once a year, the three generations skip off to an exotic locale to bond over reefs through a Kids Sea Camp trip. This past year, all nine members met up in Indonesia for two weeks at Wakatobi Dive Resort.
We caught up with several members of the Danks family to learn more about what diving with three generations is like.
Why does diving work for all three generations?
Grandma Carol: Scuba diving is a great equalizer. Regardless of one’s age, physical condition or size, everyone can do it — together. That doesn’t happen with many activities, like cycling, for example.
Grandpa Joe: For us, there is no competitive factor. It’s about the fact that scuba allows us to spend time together. You’re underwater for two, maybe three, hours a day, and then you have the rest of the time to spend with your family.
Mark (son of Joe and Carol), what led you to get certified?
Son Mark: I love being outside, and especially in the water. My parents had gotten certified first, in 2003, and kept talking about how incredible it was. So in 2006, I took the plunge.
Joe and Carol, were you ever worried for the safety of your granddaughters?
Carol: You have to have people in the water with them that you totally trust. How Margo and Tom [owners of Kids Sea Camp] do it, I don’t know. I have never felt that the girls were in any danger. Even before they were certified, they couldn’t wait to go down further.
Granddaughter Kiera: That’s true. I had done SASY and Seals, starting when I was 4. I couldn’t wait to actually be able to go all the way under like I had seen my family do.
Why do you think the girls took to scuba so well?
Carol: Our three granddaughters started when they were 4 and 6. Their first Kids Sea Camp experience was in Curacao, and they were snorkeling in the ocean at those ages and loving it. Four-year-olds snorkeling! From there, they have gradually gotten more experience. When kids are able to do something like that at that age, they gain a great deal of confidence in the water.
What would readers be most surprised to know about a family of divers?
Mark: That we all get along and enjoy each other’s company. Although, there’s something really nice, too, about being underwater for an hour or so and not talking.
Joe: There are friends after friends after friends who say they want to be adopted by us.
Carol: It’s a very long list.
What does it look like when three generations dive together?
Joe: We were all in Palau a few years ago, also with Kids Sea Camp, at a spot called Blue Corner. Our oldest granddaughter had just gotten her Junior Open Water certification, so she was limited to 40 feet, and our other two granddaughters were 9, and they could snuba, with a dive instructor alongside. The adults were at 70 feet, using reef hooks to stay put and watch sharks go by. We could look up and see one granddaughter at 40 feet, two granddaughters snubaing at 15 feet, and our daughter-in-law snorkeling at the surface. It was a neat visual experience to see all generations like that.
What advice would you give divers who want to get family members involved in the sport?
Mark: Have each person do it at his or her own speed. In our family, some of us are adventure-seekers and got certified very quickly. Others took to it more slowly. They waited until they were comfortable with the idea. Nobody pressured anyone to ‘join the club.’ And it worked. Everyone in the family is certified.
Looking for PADI® courses for the whole family? Why not get started with one of these three family friendly experiences.