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For Dive Pros Interested in Working with Scouts

Dear Dive Shop Professional,

How to work with the Scouts. I hear that you spend a lot of "free time" that doesn't go where you want it to go.

The way that rarely works is offering Discover Scuba programs and hope for conversions to Open Water. The reason is that the Discover Scuba is an end itself in terms of the program in the minds of the Scouts.

Think of this paradigm shift: Sell a much larger end-result from the start so you are working only with those interested in Open Water, buying gear, renting other gear, and possibly travel.

The end-result you are selling is a high adventure program to a group of Scouts, Scouters, and perhaps family members. When I say "Scouts" I mean those over age 14; they may be in Troops or Venture Crews (Canada, Venture, and Rover). So, your job is to facilitate and market a high adventure to a group of Scouts.

  1. Design a high adventure. You may have to do this all yourself, or with help from the local council, or with the help of a Scout unit. The high adventure is a "big deal event" usually 7-1 days long, involving travel (usually), and is worked on for maybe a year to get ready including fundraising, training, practice, etc…

  2. One such high adventure is Florida Seabase, a BSA official high adventure base (SEABASE info). The challenge with Seabase is that you have to get selected (lottery) to attend and thus you may not get a spot. But you can see what I am talking about.

  3. You can design your own high adventure. You must keep in mind the requirements of the Guide to Safe Scouting about Scuba as recreation and training and BSA requirements (search scuba in the PDF of the Guide). The high adventure can be simple (a week camping and diving in the Keys) or not so (liveaboard in T&Cs) and lots of other levels and types. The cost will be a consideration and the group should be very involved in what they really want it to look like.

  4. The program you will be providing will be for all participants who are going to dive to get Open Water (maybe school and pool with open water in the destination either through referral or with you there), buy required and desired equipment, and rent equipment as appropriate.

  5. You should provide much more pool time (games, DM level of skill development, buoyancy, etc…) to be really fun, spend time developing the scuba team feel, and really good skills. Pool time may be accompanied by planning and social time afterward as well. Become a well-skilled team! This can/should be done even if no open water time is at home. If possible, instruction should be done by whoever is going to accompany the group (if anyone is).

  6. How to get a group formed? There are three steps to see if this is going to go anywhere from the start:
    1. Call your local council and say "I would like to help sponsor a group of Scouts to do a high adventure scuba experience. Who do I talk to that can help me brainstorm this?" If they have no idea or whoever they refer you to is a lost cause, then maybe stop right there. But check out (b)

    2. Ask any adult Scouters you know (troop leaders, unit commissioners, etc…) about the idea and get their thoughts on how to make this happen. They may be helpful or may not. What you are looking for is something like "Venture Crew 766 is someone you should talk to. The Crew Adult Leader is Bob at 555-1212." You are fishing for referrals until you get to someone interested.

    3. Tell the Council you want to sponsor a Venture Crew focused on Scuba and you need help setting it up and attracting members. You might want to start a My PADI Club as an associate group and have it become the sponsor to leverage the resources of the Club for the Crew. Then the Crew will be part of the shop. Go from there. The Crew can learn about shop operations, equipment repair, visit aquariums, have guest speakers in oceanography from the community college, take classes, go on local dives, etc… 

  7. Once you have a group, keep them focused on the end result, the High Adventure Trip.

Is this worth it? This group should be continuous with an event each year with new members added each year. This group should reel in family and friends as well for both this program as well as your other shop offerings. This is a good reason to associate the group with My PADI Club as this is a good vehicle for the full "tribe" you are trying to attract.

For more information email David Smith at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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