Junior among dolphins - children benefit from scuba diving
Colorful reef landscapes, schools of fish, mysterious underwater worlds: In recent years, the number of families taking a diving course together has increased rapidly. For children, diving is one of the most fascinating hobbies of all - and quite a safe one, as long as you follow a few rules.
Development into a family sport Two-thirds of the planet is covered with water. Two thirds that remain hidden from the majority of people except for elaborate television documentaries. But that doesn't have to be the case: in recent years, diving has evolved from an adventure sport to a family sport; a trend that the various training organizations are taking into account with customized programs.
Harmless hobby Diving: that sounds dangerous to many people at first; sounds like dramatic accidents and encounters with aggressive sharks. In practice, however, the exact opposite is the case: compared to the number of active people, the accident figures are vanishingly small and the sharks - if you are lucky enough to encounter one underwater at all - turn out to be mostly shy creatures that are more afraid of humans than vice versa.
Suitable courses for every age group The trend is towards family sports: what child does not dream of gaining access to a world hidden from others? Meeting dolphins, watching manta rays in their majestic underwater flight, feeling weightless like an astronaut. And the commercial training organizations such as PADI www.padi.com, IAC www.diveiac.de or SSI www.divessi.com as well as the Association of German Sports Divers www.vdst.de have the right course for every age group in their program: children as young as eight are allowed to dive in a pool to a depth of two meters. From ten, diving in the sea is then permitted - always accompanied by a trained adult and only to a maximum depth of twelve meters. Two years later, depending on the association and certification, they can even dive to a depth of 21 meters.
Diving fitness examination of children is important "I think diving with children is generally a safe thing to do," says diving physician Dr. Ralf Busch. However, and this is important to him, they should definitely have undergone a diving fitness examination beforehand with a doctor familiar with the subject. He doesn't think much of a spontaneous diving course on vacation: "Usually you only have to sign a form there, on which you assure that your own child is healthy."
Special equipment and training for kids One person who is also well acquainted with the subject in practice is Mirko Obermann. He trains up to 150 children a year at his six diving centers (http://diving.de/), and he knows what's important: "In addition to the maximum depth, which must absolutely be observed, there are other factors that must be taken into account," says the native of Franconia, who now lives in Egypt. "No repetitive dives, for example; once a day is enough. In addition, special equipment for children should be available at the diving school as well as smaller compressed air tanks with a capacity of four or six liters - the standard sizes with ten or twelve liters are still too large and also too heavy for children."
Sensitive instructors, strengthened family ties For Obermann, the most important thing is the diving instructor himself: "A great deal of pedagogical empathy is required from him when training children. Every child is different, and he must be able to respond to that. This is only possible in small groups, where an instructor only looks after one or two children - as is usually prescribed by the training organizations."
Entry-level courses at reputable diving schools A complete introductory course can be had at reputable diving schools for 300 to 400 euros - with significantly cheaper offers, on the other hand, caution is often called for. In any case, however, the feeling of being able to make the first dive together with your own offspring is priceless. "After all, diving is not only a sport that is ideal to do with the whole family," says Werner Grüner, whose two children have been diving since elementary school age. "It also strengthens the adolescent's sense of responsibility and self-confidence. My children, at least, have benefited in many ways from their exciting descents into the deep, just as I have: the gleam in their eyes when they've made an interesting discovery underwater is something money can't buy."
Inform and try out at boot Düsseldorf Anyone who is still undecided now can get competent answers to any kind of questions at boot Düsseldorf, the world's largest trade fair for divers. Whether it's free on-site trial diving or conversation partners from the fields of medicine, training, equipment and travel - you'll find the right contact person for every topic at the booths. Not only when it comes to diving with families: but for everyone to whom two thirds of the planet should no longer be hidden. (Source: www.bvww.org)