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What would your ideal training agency look like?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by ScubaWithTurk, Jan 18, 2020.

  1. jadairiii

    jadairiii Solo Diver

    The “ideal” training agency would look a lot like GUE, Rec 1 course. And I have taken classes and/or taught PADI, NAUI, IANTD (IAND) and GUE. That said, its not about creating the perfect agency, it is about finding the student. There is an old Buddhist (I think?) saying that states, “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. What does that mean? Read on.

    I see SCUBA and Snow skiing much the same, somewhat gear intensive, requires skill and can be a tad pricey. But where it diverts is that entry level skier can visually see the difference between the bunny slope and the Black diamond. They can see the skills required to become a black diamond skier and observe their instructor ski. No faking going down the black diamond. Would anyone take skiing lessons from some 300 lb, out of shape instructor that can barely ski down a blue diamond and is constantly falling? And it does not take much imagination to know “doing it wrong” will hurt. Most new skiers know they are not ready for the Black Diamond run after their first ski lesson on the bunny slope.

    But SCUBA you cant “see” immediately the bunny slope from the black diamond. It all seems “easy” and fun. And you have no way to actually gauge your instructor’s ability, all you see is his/her patches on their jacket and what he/she tells the new student. Worse, the new student can go from “bunny slope to black diamond” without even realizing it. The new student does not see the value in a 7 day, $1000 entry level SCUBA class vs the $200 weekend course. And so you have a lot of people leave the sport early on because the scare the (you know what) out themselves and see diving as no longer fun without realizing that it was the substandard instruction that was the root cause of their problem.
    Divectionist, MichaelMc and rjack321 like this.
  2. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes

    I don’t care about your experience. You seem to be a savant.

    You really think that a DM with 60 dives or whatever is brilliant (as the Brits put it)? This just seems to encourage the zero to hero crap. I see DM/instructors with very little diving experience out at our local quarry and boy, does it show. I’m not even talking about things like trim. You can be a fish and have really good trim from the beginning, but if you have very little experience in the water?

    I’d rather take someone with somewhat crappy trim who has a lot more experience is the water and knows how to deal with various situations than a 60 dive DM who has only dived in tropical locations.
    Lorenzoid and AfterDark like this.
  3. NothingClever

    NothingClever ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean
    Interesting response. As soon as I get on a proper screen, I’m going to go back through Turk’s posts to see if I misunderstood something.
    ScubaWithTurk likes this.
  4. JasmineNeedsGills

    JasmineNeedsGills Contributor

    Thumbs up for club diving here. I first learned through BSAC, and am back with them now. It's not a perfect system, but the fact there's no pressure to qualify students to meet the numbers for PADI 5*, or to pay for licence renewal is a big safety and quality plus in my eyes - and being volunteers it genuinely is love of the sport.

    Most of the problems in BSAC I see are complicated by various external factors - and most come down to the difficulty of newbies finding basic (Ocean Diver) training.

    * Few clubs have a regular "club night" at the local pool anymore. Municipal pools have often been privatised or just closed, meaning fewer clubs are able/willing to pay the much higher cost, or simply don't have a decent local pool. This makes it virtually impossible to train ODs, as few UK coastal locations are truly sheltered and predictable, and interferes with the traditional approach of doing sheltered training in winter/spring, then the final qualifiying open water dives when the sea has warmed up. There are very few inland sites in Britain, and those that exist are privately owned.

    * The degree of organisation varies. It's volunteers, and dive clubs tend to be run by people who prefer diving to diary management and administration in their free time. As such it can be frustrating for newbies who want to get on with training.

    * Enrionment. Where BSAC is both at it's absolute best, and also lacking. Diving is of neccessity a group acitivity (for the overhwelming majority, anyway) and the club based apporach means you automatically have friends. Diving in a club means there's never the "Instabuddy" problem - you are always diving with friends you know, and naturally pair up with someone you can work with. It also means you know your intructors in the same kind of way - you buddy up with an instructor whose style works for both of you. But, most clubs (except the uni ones, anyway), skew toward the "Old White Male" demographic, much more so than commercial organisations. There's many reasons for it, but it is an issue when it comes to recruiting new members, especially younger women.

    What would I like to see change?

    * More BSAC HQ support for club administration. Offer more workshops/training to support club administrators. Offer a digital platform to streamline club management i.e. provide standardised template spreadsheets for treasurers and easy to use guides on "how to.." - same for promotion, and diary management etc

    * Inter-club co-operation. Most clubs struggle to pay for a "pool night", which I feel should be the heart and soul of a club, as it keeps people engaged and in shape throughout the year, connects newbies to experienced divers and provides the social glue - time chatting at the poolside or in the pub/cafe afterwards are when dive trips get planned and people get onboard with events from a weekend trip out in the RIB to a full blown pilgrimage to the Scilly Isles. If individual clubs can't afford this, get multiple clubs pooling their resources (bdumtish!) to share pool hire between them.

    * No Doctrine. BSAC nearly killed itself over minor technicalities (the hog loop debacle). It soon because less about the technicality and more about Who Is Right(tm). This top down prescriptive approach from HQ did nothing except alienate people and re-inforced the view of BSAC as a "nerdy" group of "Old White Guys" more interested in minuitae of kit than the underwater world. Unfair? Absolutely. Can I see why people thought it? Absolutely. Be less prescriptive and be aware that people do have different diving styles and that's OK, as long as it's safe, and as long as instructor, trainee and buddies are all on the same page. On that note - we should get with the times and as a matter of basic safety make having and using your *own* dive computer mandatory from day 1. It's just plain good practice. Doesn't matter if it's a Puck or a Technomarvel 2000 with a gazillion gas support. Just have one, and use it.
    wKkaY, Vitesse2l and AfterDark like this.
  5. Bigbella

    Bigbella Contributor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: San Francisco
    My "ideal agency" would be similar to the late, lamented YMCA program -- basically a "one and done," without the cynical money grubbing efforts of today, such as a "trash collecting " speciality. It was rigorous; taught the fundamentals; some useable applied theory; a good deal of what not to do (that very subject, always a calculated risk when teenagers are on hand); and engendered in most everyone, a greater overall confidence in the ocean, whether diving or not.

    I capably dove for several years, without adult supervision, with only that initial training under my belt, before ultimately taking college courses -- and then, only to gain cheap access to a wider range of equipment; boats, and, lastly, some dirt-simple college credit . . .
  6. NothingClever

    NothingClever ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean

    I think you strive to exercise critical thinking skills but it seems you didn’t have a chance to absorb DD or Turk’s posts.

    Both render an experience-based opinion as instructors that setting a number is hard and often does not guarantee the right candidate with the right skills enters an instructor course. Nonetheless, they both agree that a minimum requirement must be set (in fact, DD provides what I think is a very feasible proposal) and that a practical skills examination of the instructor candidate is essential before starting the course.

    Certainly you could agree with that, couldn’t you?

    Also, maybe I’m missing something but your opening comment against Turk seems pretty snide. Didn’t you recently ask people to behave when you started your thread about basic technical training? Maybe you two share bad blood but the spirit of Turk’s thread here seems neutral and useful to me.

    Besides, he was faced with a medical death sentence as a relatively young man but survived it. I’m betting that getting on the internet to trade Molotov cocktails is outside of his list of interesting things to do with the time he has left in this lifetime.
    chillyinCanada and ScubaWithTurk like this.
  7. NothingClever

    NothingClever ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean
    Getting back to the core topic of the ideal training agency and the related sub-topic of how they define diver qualification, I’ve been reviewing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Diving Standards and Safety Manual out of nerdy curiosity.

    I’m not saying it’s the ideal training agency and it’s difficult to use them as a template since they are funded by tax revenue rather than commercial sales and profit. Nonetheless, I found their training and experience criteria to become Advanced and Master Divers is more involved and, to me, interesting.

    2.14.3 Qualifications.

    A. NOAA Advanced Divers, in addition to requirements for a NOAA Diver, shall:
    1) Complete a minimum of 150 logged dives as a NOAA Diver:
    2) Successfully complete a NOAA DM course;
    3) Complete two (2) or more checkout dives with Unit Dive Supervisor;
    4) Have obtained experience in a variety of diving conditions and demonstrated competent supervision of a range of diving operations; and
    5) Receive certification based upon review of the candidate’s dive resume by the divers’ Unit Diver Supervisor, Line Office Diving Officer, and the NOAA Diving Program Manager.

    B. MasterDivers, in addition to requirements listed above, shall:
    1) Be certified as a NOAA Advanced Diver;
    2) Complete a minimum of 150 logged dives as a NOAA Advanced Diver;
    3) Possess special expertise in several areas of diving; and
    4) Receive certification based upon review of the candidate’s dive resume by the divers’ Unit Dive Supervisor and Line Office Diving Officer as well as one (1) other Line Office Diving Officer, and by the NOAA Diving Program Manager.

    In the section where it defines the basic dive training, I found the following interesting:

    3.2.1 Academic Topics.

    Topics should include, but may not be limited to the following:

    F. Dive Rescue and Accident Management

    3.2.2 Pool or Confined Water Skills.

    Topics should include, but may not be limited to the following:

    E. Use of a Redundant Air Supply System (RASS);
    H. Simulated in-water mouth-to-mouth resuscitation;
    I. Rescue and transport, as a diver, a passive simulated victim of a diving accident;

    3.2.3 Open Water Skills.

    Topics should include, but may not be limited to the following:

    B. Entering and exiting procedures to include shore, pier, and small boat while wearing SCUBA equipment;
    H. Ability to achieve and maintain neutral buoyancy while submerged;
    I. Techniques of self and buddy rescue;
    J. Underwater navigation

    3.2.4 Additional Considerations.

    Students should be exposed to open-water conditions while diving at night, and under conditions of reduced visibility.
    Bob DBF likes this.
  8. TMHeimer

    TMHeimer Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Dartmouth,NS,Canada(Eastern Passage-Atlantic)
    Agree with a lot of what you say. I think added in there should be my old pet peeve--It is also the student. Someone whose past water experience may be wandering half way into a motel pool's deep end can sign up for scuba, no questions asked.
    jadairiii and NothingClever like this.
  9. Diving Dubai

    Diving Dubai Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

    Experience is really a hard one to nail down, some people weigh cold water above warm water (Yes I get that but a drysuit is just a skill) - but then Warm water with current clearly trumps a benign quarry. The fact is its hard to make an apples to apples comparison on environments.

    Hence yes there has to be an minimum experience, but I think its important to slow down diver training and get divers to consolidate each level before moving on

    @JasmineNeedsGills made some fine points about the club method. One of its huge strengths is continued mentorship. Your course instructor will be your buddy post cert, and has a vested interested in you if it's your round at teh bar (not so much if its their favourite cake at the SI)

    Also with clubs there is peer pressure - no one wants to be the weak link, and people are willing to help divers improve.

    Practical experience for Dive Pro's (especially DM's) is easily gained because when their guiding etc they will have much more direct and indirect exposure to problems - but as I've said before requires to have a minimum sufficient length for the candidate to acquire experience. I have a special disdain for 10 day courses, both the centres that offer then and the divers who take them, thinking they're DM's.

    They're not, by a long shot

    Importantly though courses have to be accessible, by that I mean the entrance should be attainable to divers where ever they dive. I'd hate to see an elitist agency. Certainly taking a course on adaptive diving taught by an instructor with significant physical disabilities opened my eyes to a lot

    @Graeme Fraser suggesting of a mandatory period between DM and Instructor to allow the DM to consolidate and gain experience post course is superb

    One reason I think so many people go pro, is that they run out of courses to take. Progression is too easy, so I love your Master diver NOAA cert where a diver needs to gain substantial experience over a period of time

    Easily managed with (again) something like the BSAC logbook, you could go to a dive centre pay a small instructor fee and them accompany you on a dive that relates to a certain module, if you don't pass, then you can retake it at a reduced fee (with that same centre)

    You could get modules signed up at different centres, maybe have to take mini courses on your way, probably have to complete Tec 40 or ITT etc, but in the end yoru certification would be hard earned and respected.

    It should be an aspirational cert too something for people to work at over a year or so and mean something. Where divers who don't want to go pro and teach can earn this cert (if they put time and effort in) And yes it would have a financial benefit to centres too
    NothingClever and Graeme Fraser like this.
  10. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes

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