A comment in my last blog "State of the Diving Industry" set my mind into thinking about the way we welcome new divers. Calvin's comment about that blog was "the one thing I have found, which is rather off putting, is the attitude of experienced divers towards the new comers." As a dive school and shop we welcome new divers, they are the life blood of our business. I learnt to dive in the Cayman Islands which has a mainly American customer base which we know demand the best in customer service. I assumed from the beginning that was how diving operated, customer focused, so there seems to be little problem in being nice where profits are involved. Surely a business that was not welcoming in a service industry such as ours would not remain in business for long.
Can the same be said of clubs? Clubs generally work on a subscription basis so funds come from the established mass rather than new recruits. Does this lead to a clique? Over the years I have been a member of a few clubs, I always faired pretty well but I was an Advanced Instructor which came with kudos and respect. But is that the exact issue Calvin is talking about? We like social order and rank, not unique to divers but human as a whole. Someone new joins our tribe and we want to reaffirm our position within the pack and more importantly put them in their place... At the bottom.
Training agencies have spent years moving away from military style training to all inclusive easy access courses. It's not about starting with 20 recruits requiring one highly trained special operations grade diver come soldier. Nowadays it's about giving all 20 the chance to pass, ensure they can dive safely and know what they are doing, not experts just competent divers. So why as divers are we not welcoming to new divers? Are we unsure of our own abilities and want to make sure no one has it easier than we did? How many of us have heard or told a story of what diving used to be like... Macho. Attitude.
Over the years I have taught many divers, I have only kept in touch with a few but I can honestly say that although I like to consider myself a "scuba god" with thousands of dives under my belt that a few of the people I have taught are now better divers and or instructors than I am or was. There it is, out there for all to read. Hopefully more than a few are better than me. Attitude checked, I am now humble.. Surely training someone to be better than you are or were is the greatest achievement? Not wishing to turn this into Radio 2's morning pause for thought sermon, let's all try and be more welcoming to new divers, embrace their new energy for the sport, teach them, help them and dive with them! Please post your comments here on the blog, whilst Facebook etc are great the comments and thoughts are lost over time so post your thoughts here so we can refer back to them in future.