Interview conducted by: Brooke Morton
Margo Peyton initially started Kids Sea Camp as a one-week getaway designed to introduce her own kids to diving. Now, nearly two decades later, it has snowballed into a global community: She and her family run 15 weeks in 13 countries, including the Cayman Islands, Bonaire, Honduras, Fiji, Palau, Yap and more.
What’s the secret behind Kids Sea Camp?
Kids Sea Camp creates the avenue for us to have multi-generational travel — that’s one of the things KSC has been majorly successful at. We have 5-year-olds in the water doing SASY and 70-year-olds taking Divemaster courses. We offer activities, programs and education for every member of the family. And it’s place where everyone can feel welcome.
What defines a family? At KSC, we have two moms, we have two dads; we have every race and every religion at our events. We have families with adopted children; we have families who bring nieces and nephews. It’s a fun, relaxing, peaceful place to be — which, in our world, is growing increasingly important.
How’d it all start for you?
I grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with a father who was a diver. When I was 6, he would put me in a tidal pool breathing from his regulator. I spent my childhood in the ocean, and was a freediver first. It was never a question of if I would get PADI certified, but when.
It happened when I turned 22. My dad gifted me my Open Water Diver certification for my birthday. One thing led to another, and I moved to the Cayman Islands, working first as a Divemaster for Bob Soto’s Diving. Then I transitioned to a career as an international travel consultant.
How have PADI and Kids Sea Camp changed your life?
For a while, I was a single mom, and I didn’t want to leave my kids behind when I traveled. My whole career up to that point had been about dive and travel. I had to figure out a way to include my two kids — so I started Kids Sea Camp because of them.
And now, it feels like the family-dive-and-travel business is growing in leaps and bounds. I feel like I am running a fine dining restaurant using just an Easy Bake oven. I have created something that nobody else has even touched, that nobody else has been able to recreate.
What makes KSC so successful is that it’s not just a business, it’s personal. It’s about family ties and creating connections about the world. It’s not about money.
How do you keep kids diving?
Try asking your kids to journal their dives together, and then put them on Facebook. This helps create lasting memories for them. One of the most memorable things I did with my daughter was during her first night dive. I made sure to spend extra time debriefing – asking her what she saw and looking up the marine life in books together.
For parents or instructors working with kids, try using an underwater slate or the ScubaPro Waterproof Wet Notes – both good tools. Kids have the desire to come to the surface to tell you what they saw; they can’t hold it in—they want to tell you immediately! The notes let them do that, and continue the dive safely.
What’s your secret to getting younger kids diving?
For any age, it’s very important to openly discuss and address fears. Kids have fears, but they may be afraid to tell you. A kid knows if he tells you that his ear is hurting, he can’t dive. But if he is questioned later, you may learn he actually had a fear of sharks or jellyfish. It’s important to address those fears immediately. The most important thing for a scuba family is for everyone to enjoy it safely.
Do you have any advice for PADI Dive Centers and Resorts?
I love when resorts offer youth programs and courses, like SASY. There is also Junior Advanced Open Water Diver and Junior Rescue Diver courses. A lot of people don’t even know that these courses exist or that there are so many opportunities in diving for kids.
What’s next for KSC?
I am elated that KSC is growing by such leaps and bounds. I’m very excited about the Instructor Development Course that we are running in Bonaire, August 5 – 19, 2017. It’s the first time that we have ever offered professional courses — and the majority of candidates have been with us since they were SASY students!
Next year, we are also adding Indonesia’s Wakatobi Dive Resort, one of PADI’s newest Five Star Dive Resorts, as a new destination. We will also be introducing a week in Dominica.
Lastly, through Ocean Wishes, we are certifying more and more local children in the communities we go to, including Fiji and the Philippines. In Fiji, we raised money for floors in the schools and brought over loads of school supplies. In the Philippines, we are supplying clothes and shoes. KSC is much more than just diving. It’s about outreach and connecting humanity.
Learn more about Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures at familydivers.com.