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There has been a question posed at the dive center more and more as we see more families traveling to Playa del Carmen on their vacations. What age can my son or daughter get certified? What can I do to enhance the vacation experience for my child other than snorkeling or Mexican theme parks?

Our divers are looking to make scuba a family affair and we have to say SSI and PADI are getting the idea. A child can start their scuba experience at age 10, yes that is correct, age 10. The standards have changed in the last few years from 12 to 10 years. But there are some provisions.

First, the open water diver under the age of 15 years will be categorized as a junior open water diver. This means that they can only dive to maximum depth of 60 feet/18 meters and always need to dive with a certified adult. The components of the Open Water course, Theory, Confined water skills and open water dives apply to the Junior Open Water Course the same as with the Open Water. For a child under 15 to be a junior diver, they need to successfully complete these sections. That said, we have not had to refuse any student under 15 years of age their certification. In fact, we love teaching young children to dive.

The challenge in some cases with children is to make sure they understand the theory. With compliments to all of our instructors, they have thousands of metaphors which assist in the learning curve some kids have when studying the Open water manual. Who would ever think that Coca Cola could be so useful when training young children (it is a great example for explaining Decompression Sickness/Illness) or that a balloon could turn a light on about volume changes in diving. We are amazed at the tricks and truly the fun tricks they have up their sleeves.

But we must get back to the standards for any Junior Open Water Diver. The only contingency for this program and for the junior diver is that they can not dive past 6o feet/18 meters until they change to Open Water diver at age 15. Once your Junior Diver hits the magic age of 15, all they have to do is submit their last dive log page to the diving organization, visit a dive center and do a scuba review to verify their diving knowledge and then submit to their dive organization their change in level from Junior to Open Water Diver. Re-certification is not required unless the dive center who reviews the child’s skills decides that their knowledge is not up to date.

Over three years ago, our PADI instructors certified the first ever Junior Advanced Open Water Diver. This diver’s proud father and his proud instructors were amazed at his skill and his ability to comprehend the theory involved in this certification level. When moving your child from Junior Open Water to Junior Advanced Open Water there are only two barriers to be aware of. One, the Junior Open Water Diver can not complete the Deep Diving to 30 meters or Wreck diving elective portion of course. Other electives need to be chosen as a substitute for these two portions. This truly is not a barrier, it just needs to be on the minds of parents as they assist their diver in choosing their electives for the Advanced Courses.

So there you have it. All the information you need to make diving a family affair. Now, if you have a few children over 10 years of age and one or two under the training age limits, think about getting the snorkeling certification for the children under 10 years of age or the bubblemaker. This provides them with a water and reef experience, a certification card and some time with an instructor as well. There is nothing worse than your older brother or sister doing something you can not, due to an age restriction. We have done this many times and are good at making each student feel important no matter what certification they are going for. It also makes a great Show and Tell story as well, so you wont be searching around the house looking for something for your young one to bring to school.

Contact us if you have any questions regarding family certification classes. The instructors here are great and they are even better with young children who want to see the unique world that lies below sea level.

  1. Joe Lumetzberger01-08-13

    We have three 10 year old girls and we like to send them to a bubblmaker course in March this year.
    What you can recommend.

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