Class 6 of the Florida Sea Base Divemaster Academy starts on 20 December 2009 and ends on 02 January 2010. Currently there are 16 candidates, all with Scouting experience. The Florida Sea Base will bear all expenses for their certification (including room and board) except for their transportation to and from Sea Base, their PADI membership fee, and a few minor incidentals. Please READ MORE.
I am guessing that it was the summer of 2001 that Milly McCoy, Capt. Bert Hubby and I began discussing the issues Sea Base was having with trying to find Divemasters who understood and functioned well in a Scouting environment. At the time, we were working as Scuba Instructors at Sea Base and most of the Sea Base Divemasters were hired from the general public. Many of these folks were great employees and worked out fine. (After all, that’s where Bert, Milly and I can from.) But some of these Divemasters just didn’t understand the Scouting culture and weren’t the best as role models for Scouts. Something needed to be done and we agreed that it would be easier to teach a Scout to be a Divemaster than it was to teach a Divemaster how to be a Scout.
At the end of 2002 I was promoted from being a seasonal staff member to being the full time Program Director at Sea Base. It took almost two years to convince the new General Manager that a Divemaster Academy, while expensive (over $1,000 per candidate), was legitimately necessary. (One thing that helped was get the GM’s attention was firing 6 Divemasters in one week). The first Divemaster Academy (DMA) was held the winter of 2004. And yes, despite spell check, PADI considers Divemaster to be one word, not two, but they still abbreviate it DM. (I didn’t make this rule.)
The DMA has been a successful tool. Most of our candidates are Eagle Scouts (Boy Scout’s highest rank), Gold Awards (Girl Scout’s highest rank) or Venture Scout Presidents. Most of the rest have some Scouting background. On occasion we get a non-Scout who is able to convince me that they can perform well in the Scouting culture and be a positive role model for the young men and women who attend the Florida Sea Base. We provide the books, slates, dive gear (except wetsuits), instructors, captains, boats, fuel, room, board, uniforms, classroom materials, and other goodies. The candidates pay for transportation, the PADI membership fee and a few incidentals that will become a part of their dive kit.
Anyone interested in applying for the DMA should go to www.bsaseabase.org, click on High Adventures and scroll down to Divemaster Training Academy. If you have specific questions, please email them to Divemaster.Academy@bsaseabase.org.