I was 13 years old when I knew I wanted to become a scuba diver. After five hours of snorkeling over a reef in Hawaii, I knew my life was headed underwater. Five years later, I was at the bottom of a local swimming pool practicing the skills necessary to earn my Open Water certification. Since then, I have spent much of my adult life sharing my passion for diving with students and diving some of the world’s best sites with Broadreach.
The first summer I worked for Broadreach, we were anchored at Ille Fourche on the morning of our final program day. We had just come up from what I thought was our last dive. As we were putting our gear away and readying the boat for our sail back to St. Martin, one of the students spotted a dolphin. We quickly reassembled our dive gear and hopped into the water. For the next thirty minutes, we knelt in 20 feet of water and watched two dolphins frolic above us. To date, it remains the most amazing experience of my diving career.
Several summers later, I took students on a discover scuba experience in St. Lucia. The local dive shop told me there were resident seahorses on the reef, but I never thought I would actually see one of these elusive creatures. When one of my students pointed to some sea grass, I swam over to see what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t until I really looked that I saw the only seahorse I have ever seen. For several minutes, we all quietly watched this rare, amazing creature knowing the male seahorse carries the babies to term in his pouch, after which they emerge fully developed. Talk about unique!
The first time I saw a scalloped hammerhead, I was with ONE student. The rest of the group had chosen to dive with the other two instructors, and I still feel sad they missed out on seeing that amazing creature. Another of my Broadreach groups fell in love with the indescribably cute, baby trunkfish (aka. The Most Adorable Fish in the Sea) . We made it our mission to find one on every dive. Although we completely failed at that mission, we sure had fun trying. From the Spanish Dancer, the coolest of the cool, nudibranch family, to the common blue striped grunt, the underwater world is a veritable treasure chest of discovery. These underwater encounters, like so many others I have experienced, reinforce my passion for diving.
For me, being a diver is akin to being a member of an exclusive, not-so-secret club. It is like having the winning lottery ticket and not telling anyone. Because as divers, we know what others do not. We know what it feels like to float above a reef and “fly” through water. We know the anxiety and exhilaration that comes with seeing our first shark and each one afterwards. And, we know the indescribable serenity and calmness that comes with a mask, fins, and a tank. For you see, my friends, we are the lucky ones.
I share these memories because they exemplify everything awesome about diving. Diving is about the unknown and the mysterious and the magical. As the summer approaches, I am beginning to get butterflies in my stomach that tell me it is time to get back underwater. I don’t know where my summer will take me, but I do know some of it will be spent underwater. I also know diving will help me to slow down a bit, really look at what is in front of me, and enjoy the world around me. If diving is in your summer plans, may your waters be blue and your visibility endless. For you, my friends, are the lucky ones holding the winning lottery ticket. Welcome to the club!
Last summer I traveled with my 11 year old daughter, Peyton, along with four of her closest friends and their dads to the Caribbean for a phenomenal father/daughter adventure.
Like many parents, I find that our family’s hectic schedule doesn’t always leave space for quality time. And though we’ve taken some great trips together as a family, this one-on-one experience with Peyton was uniquely rewarding. We discovered a new connection and common ground that has become a special foundation in our relationship – one that I hope we can build on as she moves into her teen years.
As I reflected on this experience over the winter, I began to think about how I could adapt the Broadreach model of hands-on, experiential learning and adventure into a similarly rewarding experience for other families. After many conversations with parents and some special planning with our programming team, I’ve developed what I think is a really wonderful new travel opportunity: Broadreach Parent-Child Expeditions.
This summer, Broadreach will offer two expeditions for groups of parent/child pairs – a Caribbean sailing and diving voyage and an eco-adventure in Costa Rica. These expeditions have all the challenge, thrill and fun that Broadreach is known for, with the added goal of giving you and your child time away to strengthen your bonds and build wonderful memories you’ll both treasure for years to come.
2014 Alumni Editor: Evan Coit
Each year, Broadreach selects one of our Alumni Ambassadors to receive a full program scholarship as the Broadreach Alumni Editor. The Alumni Editor is a student that demonstrates the best of what Broadreach instills in our participants; one who exhibits leadership, great teamwork skills, environmental stewardship and is a true global citizen. We are excited to announce the 2014 Alumni Editor, Evan Coit! Below is his winning essay:
The influence small events can have on life are beyond measure. Things you might immediately pass off as typical, maybe just not worth note, these are the things that can come back to change you as a person. During my trip with Broadreach, what ended up shifting my whole perspective on parts of my life were two smiles. These smiles may not have been alike, not even of the same species, but they both gave me one feeling: acceptance.
Before all else, I need to mention the situation I was in before my trip to the Grenadines. I live in Salida, Colorado, a town found in the “Heart of the Rockies”, with a relatively small population of about 5,500. This town is not what you’d consider close to the ocean by any means, and for a kid who has dreamed of marine exploration since he first learned what it was, this isn’t always ideal. So consequently, when I learned I would be attending a trip to a group of islands outside of this country that I’d barely left previously, I was enthralled. But there were more feelings than just excitement; I was going to a new part of the world, would meet new people, and do things I’d never tried before. This instilled a large amount of anxiety in me at times, causing me to be tense and nervous for the beginning of my trip. My perspective would change in a matter of days.
It was when we were docked that it happened. We had stopped at a steep beach directly on the edge of a village. I was below in the cabin changing, and had little knowledge of what was happening on the deck above me. So without doubt, when I rose to the surface of the boat to find young children from the local village running and jumping off our catamaran into the ocean I was more or less astonished. But without realizing, it took seconds for me to get in line and propel myself off the stern of the boat wearing a foolishly large grin. But when I emerged from the water and cleared my eyes there was something that seemed to change me more than I thought it would. It was a local kid smiling goofily and motioning me back to the boat to get back on and jump with him. That, just that one little gesture, opened my eyes to the world. Where I thought I’d possibly be unwelcome, I was being invited to experience this sliver of joy with a complete stranger. He had opened his hand to me and what was I to do but realize I had been wrong about the world’s perception of me, and take this boy's offer of sociability.
To this day I’m amazed. Kindness is such a rare occurrence now. It is almost disappointing that adults and older teens, people who have lived long enough to gain true life experience, can’t realize that it takes little to no effort to show acceptance, whereas a young child can. I have learned that I must take this action to heart and live by what it represents: compassion. It has become a voice in the back of my head so to say, a voice whose only mission is to make me a better person. This boy may not have even thought that he would affect me in this way, but that makes it all the more beautiful.
The second smile didn’t represent the level of emotion the other did (and literally it didn’t show any emotion at all), but I saw acceptance within it. We were on a night dive, my third to be exact. I felt comfortable diving, and I was rarely scared underwater. But the moment when I was about to circle around a group of coral, that’s when my flashlight hit the barracuda. It was a rather shocking surprise at first, but as I watched it slowly pass and glance back my way, its silver hue reflecting into the silent water, that’s when I realized it seemed to approve of me. It had its mouth open, teeth brandished as barracudas seem to always do. But in this situation, it didn’t feel threatening; it felt as though it had accepted my existence in its habitat. It was a comforting smile, just with rather menacing features. But then, and only then, did I realize that I felt at home underwater. I have enjoyed the thought of the aquatic world for years, for as long as it seems possible, but only at this point did I truly understand that I loved it. I love its inhabitants, I love its comforting silence, and I love the way it makes me feel. Thanks to that barracuda, I can now truly experience the euphoria scuba diving induces.
My life shifted on these tiny actions. Compassion, empathy, and acceptance are the causes of positive change. Little did I realize how much perspective world travel can give you, and how much it can show you about your own life. I feel as though my Broadreach trip not only made me more aware of the planet, but also a better person all together. It helped me discover my dreams and give myself incentive to chase them. And all of this is because of two little smiles seemingly a world apart, but combined by one idea of approval and friendship.
Caribbean Grenadines Advanced Scuba Voyage
Did Evan's essay make you long to get back underwater? Embark on a scuba intensive, live-aboard voyage through the lush Windward Islands. Earn multiple advanced scuba certifications, including Rescue Diver, as you sail from picturesque St. Lucia to Grenada while diving some of the Caribbean’s most stunning reefs along the way. Volunteer at the Tobago Cays Marine Park and at the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary rehabilitating and rescuing baby sea turtles.