MAGALOG21 (2021)

A few years later, we returned to Kids Sea Camp at Buddy Dive Resort on Bonaire, where 8-year-old Hailey joined the PADI SealTeam program. The mini scuba rig gave her the experience of a diver, by breathing through a regulator. She completed all five aqua missions, and I enjoyed my first dive with her under the dock. What a breakthrough! When she was 10, ready to become a Junior Open Water diver, we booked KSC’s Thanksgiving week at Anse Chastanet St. Lucia. This exquisite and secluded luxury resort has on-site PADI five-star dive operation, Scuba St. Lucia was perfect for the entire family.The time was right for Hailey to join the dive tribe. I’ve always believed that anticipation is one of the best things about travel.Adding a life-changing event like Hailey’s certification only intensified that joy. Months before our trip we began putting together her first scuba kit, trying on wet suits, fit testing the Scubapro masks and fins all provided by KSC. A few weeks before takeoff, we the children. Friendships form instantly when you’re diving headfirst into new adventures together. Plus, there are lizards to chase, beaches to comb, stars to count and cannonballs to launch off the top deck of the dive boat. When training begins, the kids slip into a blissful routine of discovery, both underwater and inside themselves. Through 30 years of organizing group travel events across the globe, Margo has created a very rare and valuable culture in the world of diving. She is building a tribe of like-minded families from different walks of life who share a common love for the ocean — and kinship. Traveling to exotic locales with children and grandparents in

dove into the PADI E-Learning materials, and watching her absorb the physics of diving and safety protocols was as much a learning experience for me as it was for her. When the venerable dive table came into play, I broke out in a cold sweat.Thankfully, Hailey helped me remember my fundamentals and she passed with ease. tow can pose many challenges. Kids Sea Camp makes it simple, safe and sanguine.There’s a reason why we consistently meet families on their third, sixth and even eighth KSC adventure. Bonding is an understatement. Relationships born here endure for years.The experience is just that powerful. On this trip, we invited my mother-in-law, Marsha, a newly certified diver herself, to join us.The possibility of a three- generation dive could not be missed. So, as Hailey was completing her final confined-water dive under the careful guidance of Scuba St. Lucia’s instructors, we achieved the trifecta. Set loose on the house reef after her required skills were performed,

Arriving at Anse Chastanet is a rejuvenation. Surrounded by 600 acres of thriving rainforest, the intimate 49-room resort spills down a lush mountainside to a pristine volcanic beach embracing a crystalline bay that shelters a rich marine reserve. Fragrant tropical flowers adorn trees, tables and the staff.The view across the bay from our room, framing the island’s famed parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters joined for their first dive together. Holding Hailey’s tiny hand as we toured the reef was euphoric. She led the way, pointing out colorful reef fish and hidden critters while Marsha and I followed, enraptured by the experience. Near the end of the dive, Hailey and I shared a moment alone kneeling in the sand, practicing signals. I am not ashamed to admit that I shed a few manly tears of joy looking into my daughter’s wide, excited eyes. I finally had my ultimate dive buddy. My long-awaited fantasy had become a reality. But there was one unexpected and equally wonderful side effect. Heather,

twin peaks, Gros and Petit Piton, against the Caribbean sunset defies description. This experience would surely set Hailey’s dive trip expectations to impossibly high levels.Then again, that’s what Kids Sea Camp is all about. One of my favorite things about

Kids Sea Camp is the relaxed, family vibe. Strangers don’t stay that way for long, especially KSC AMBASSADOR: HAILEY MICHAEL

my wife of more than 26 years, has long suffered an unrealistic fear of marine life. Despite being a competitive swimmer and water polo player in her youth. Nothing proved more powerful than watching her own daughter become a diver. During Hailey’s final open- water, check-out dive, on which parents join, Heather followed the group on snorkel.When we surfaced, the most surprising words came out of her mouth, “I’m ready to try scuba diving.” To my good fortune, Margo was within earshot. Hugs ensued. (And a few more manly tears.) Guess who’s getting certified at Kids Sea Camp next year? 803-419-2556 email:

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