NINE THING 2020 TAUGHT US
By Edward Kelleher
2020 was an interesting year (to say the least). Many people are going to look back on the year 2020 with complete grief and try to block it from their memory forever. Many would agree 2020 was a very difficult year, regardless of the industry. From a diver’s perspective, I learned more in 2020 than I have in any other year before this.
1. When we travel as a community scuba club, we have more fun. With groups between 20-30 divers, we were able to “drive and dive” in a few more locations than we normally would dive. Lake Phoenix in Virginia was worth every minute of our 5-hour drive from New Jersey!
2. If you give people the opportunity to try something new, it will not disappoint and may even be a pleasant surprise. With rebuilding our local dive community, came rebuilding and boosting our local dive scene. Over 30 new divers spent time on local NJ dive boats this year. Each and every one of them was surprised by the quality of diving one can find when they expand outside their comfort zone.
3. Don’t be afraid to explore! In addition to driving to new locations and loading up local charters, we’ve become local explorers of random bodies of water! From cedar water lakes, old sand pit mud puddles, and bayside inlets with zero visibility, at least we can say we tried.
4. We learned not every body of water is worth exploring. See #3. Cedar water.
5. People want to be a part of something bigger. Despite Covid, we’ve been able to build up our scuba community. The people in the community are #1. The dives we get to enjoy together are #2. Or are the food and drinks #2 and the diving is #3?
6. Some days will be good, some days, not so good. We enjoyed days off the NJ coast with 60 feet of visibility. Other days, we had 5 feet or less and some heavy surge. We can’t predict the weather. What we can do is understand that not every day is going to be the best dive day, but it is still an opportunity to get in the water and learn. Poor viz? Great job, you just completed a tough low-viz dive. Better luck next time!
7. “If you build it, they will come.” Divers want to meet more divers and have fun together.
8. Change the attitudes and change minds. If your local dive scene isn’t the easiest place to jump in and dive, that’s ok! It’s not all deep, dark, scary, and cold. If you tell other divers that it is, why would they want to dive there?
9. As an instructor, remember (especially on the recreational side) that students are in class for a reason. They come to us to expand their skill set, learn something new, have fun, and trust us to provide a service. Remember, while we are training people to become better divers, they should be able to learn and have fun in spite of the challenges presented through the class.
While 2020 had its challenges, it was an excellent opportunity to get back to local diving, give back to our dive communities, and expand our comfort zones. Expanding your circle of influence can also expand the size of your scuba influence.