Monday, November 17, 2008

Open Water Scuba Instructor

After 9 straight days of the Instructor Development Course, 2 days of the Instructor Exam, and another 2 days to become an Emergency First Responder Instructor and an O2, Oxygen Provider Instructor on Guam, I am now officially a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor.

I had spent the 2 months previous to the course reading all the books, and cramming studying, so I really felt like I was prepared for the course, even though I have to admit I was more than just a little nervous. The first thing they had us do in the IDC when we arrived was to take an exam that would be similar to the written exam we would have at the end. It was to let the Instructor know what our strengths and weaknesses were. I was a bit surprised when he told us it was a closed book test, since we had been told previously the tests would be open book. But as I started through it, I realized that I was ready for it, the answers were all right there. I missed 3 questions out of about 200, not too bad. You had to score 75% or better on each of the different exams to pass, so I had easily passed. Brad, who went over to take the course with me also passed the test, and Kat, a student who was taking the test as part of her Assistant Instructor course, and would be joining us later for the Open Water Instructor portion also passed, but the other 4 students who took it didn't do quite as well. Fortunately this test was just for evaluation, so it didn't count against them, it just showed what they needed work in.

The thing PADI is looking for in their Instructors is the ability to follow their guidelines and methods and incorporate everything they want. I caught on to that very quickly and tailored my presentations following their formula exactly. I have to admit, many of the endless class lectures did get to me after a while, since it was all information I had already read and gone over. I'm the type who prefers self study to sitting and listening to lectures. So there were some days I was ready to beat myself unconscious with my Instructor's Manual. It didn't help matters any that after about 3 days of the course I came down with a horrible head and chest cold, I felt terrible, and couldn't stop coughing and sneezing. I knew I was going to be in for trouble because I couldn't clear my right ear because of all the congestion in my sinuses. We only had one more open water dive session as part of the class though, and the instructor said we didn't have to go down past 15', so hopefully I should be ok even if I couldn't get my ear to clear. It wasn't fun, but I did manage to make it through that session. I was just praying that it would all clear up before the Instructor's Exams though, a bad head and chest cold was the last thing I needed for that.

Finally we got to the end of the 9 day IDC and we had a couple days off before the Instructor's Exams. Brad and I went to have lunch at the Food Court at the Outlet Mall, and I decided to try seeing if my ear would clear or not yet. Much to my surprise it actually cleared, so I told Brad we could head out and go do a dive for fun. He was all for it, so we went back to the dive shop, got tanks and headed for a beach in Agat that I knew we could dive. My right ear wasn't crazy about going diving, but it did eventually cooperate and we had a good dive. The next day we decided to do a shallower dive and went to the Piti bomb pits and Fisheye Marine Park. It was fun watching the tourists in the snuba helmets and seeing the people look at us from the observation deck underwater.

Wednesday morning it was time to show what we had learned though, the Instructor's Exams took place at the Marriot hotel. As was usually the case, Brad and I were the first ones to show up, not because Brad likes being so punctual, but mainly because he was riding with me. We chatted with Michael, the Examiner out of the PADI home office in California, who had arrived at 2 am that morning. The first part of the test was the written exam and Brad and I were both a bit shocked when we were told it was to be a closed book test, since someone else had told us previously it would be open book. It didn't bother me too much though as I really felt prepared for this test. There was a time limit for the tests, but it seemed to be far more than what was actually needed. I finished all 6 tests fairly quickly and turned them back in. Michael, the Examiner asked if I was sure I was ready to turn them in, that I had plenty of time to look them over. I said no, I was ready and just wanted them graded. He motioned me back up a couple minutes later and congratulated me on getting a perfect 100% on each of the tests. I have to admit, that really felt good!

Next we started preparing for our classroom presentation and our confined water presentations, and then broke for lunch. I guess since I was the first one to turn in my written exams, I was tagged to go first for everything from that point forward. So while others got to watch how I did things and learn from it, I was happy to get it over with and just be able to concentrate on the next test. I sailed through the classroom presentation, the demonstration of water skills and the confined water teaching skills, and that was the end of day #1.

We met at Fisheye park for our Rescue demonstrations and our open water skills tests. I missed getting two perfect scores on the water skills tests by a hair, all because my Divemaster let the two divers she was supervising descend away from the rope. Oh well, I'll take a 5.0 and a 4.8 any day, with 5 being a perfect score. I also passed the Rescue demonstration on the first try and that was it, I was now officially a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. They had a little ceremony right at the parking lot of Fisheye Park, and gave us all new PADI Instructor hats, although I had already bought myself one several days earlier. Brad said that it would have jinxed him, I figured it was just showing that I had conficence that I would be passing.

Then the next couple days we had to take the First Aid Responder Instructor course and the Oxygen Provider Instructor course as well. You need to be able to teach those courses in order to put someone through Rescue Diver, so it was another necessary time and financial investment, but we got those two taken care of as well.

So now I am a certified, insured PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor and am quite eager to get back in the water and start showing people why I love the underwater world so much, and equipping them to be able to explore it as well. If you've been thinking about getting certified, let me know, I'd be happy to teach you how to dive!