MAGALOG21 (2021)

Kids Sea Camp mom is overcome with tears of joy as autistic son finds his confidence as a diver KSC AMBASSDOR: JACOB HERZIG


brought him to a SealTeam event our local PADI dive shop was hosting.He spent the next glorious hour diving in the shallow end of the pool. From that moment on, scuba diving became his focus.At age 10, when we asked him what he wanted for his birthday, the answer was simple, to become a PADI scuba diver. I turned to Margo Peyton, owner of Kids Sea Camp, (a company that custom creates family dive-adventure vaca- tions) to help me make Jake’s dream of becoming a diver possible.Over the past four years,Margo has personally handpicked and paired Jacob with his own private PADI dive instructors who have been amazing.They are patient and adept at understanding the needs of a high function-

ing autistic diver. Each trip, the needle nudged a little bit further away from the child who ignored the group, who struggled to achieve neutral buoyancy, or who was unable to buddy not in defiance but because as a child with autism, he was most comfortable alone. Today is the last day of our 11th trip with Kids Sea Camp at Brac Reef Beach Resort, and it is the heralded Family Dive with Reef Divers.There was a time I dreaded the family dive, witnessing other family’s revel in their child’s progress while I watched my son search out sea biscuits in the sand, oblivious to everyone else.He has grown exponentially from that child, and I now look forward to this event;, eager to see how

far Jacob has come in his week of diving. Positioning my- self towards the back of the group, next to Jacob and his instructor, Patric, I watch as the dive master outlines the plan on the dry-erase board. “Any questions? No?Awe- some!The pool is open!” he exclaims. The excitement is palpable as the smiling children and their parents’ gear up, ready to enter the beautiful blue water. I stand next to the tank racks fighting my wetsuit strap as Jake’s instructor huddles us together. Confirming Jake understood the dive plan, and with complete confidence, Patric says,“Jacob, you are going to lead the dive.” I am surprised, Jacob has become a very good diver, but is he capable to lead the dive?

By Alyson Herzig

My eyes sting not from the salt water dripping down my face, but from tears of happiness as I reflect how far my son has come in the four years he and I have been trav- eling around the world

with Kids Sea Camp scuba diving. Jacob has always loved the water,many autistic chil-

dren do.When he was young he would stay in the pool until his lips were blue.He became obsessed with the tragic story of the Edmund Fitzgerald, a freighter that sank in the cold tumultuous November wa- ters of Lake Superior.At 8, we 803-419-2556 email:

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