Guest Blogger: Jo Walters
2015 Elite Instructor My PADI Challenge winners share the secrets to their success in this series. Read on to see how PADI Course Director Christopher Adams went from a child listening to his dad’s diving adventures to living his dream as a PADI Pro, why he loves teaching people to dive and how he finds fun, adventure and a spiritual connection to our ocean planet through diving.
Describe your inspiration to become a diver.
My father has been a PADI diver since 1981. He was in the Navy for 28 years and traveled to exotic locations all over the world, returning home with stories of diving and seeing all the beauties of the marine environment, such as turtles, sharks, mantas and coral reefs. Eventually, I was able to obtain my own certification, and since then my father has been my dive buddy as often as our schedules will allow.
Tell me about your decision to become a PADI Professional. What or who inspired you?
I took a trip to Key Largo with my father in 2006 and received my Advanced Open Water Diver and Enriched Air Diver certifications through PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Center Rainbow Reef. From then on, I wanted to become a scuba instructor, but went home to finish my degree in Marine Biology first. My father and my daughter, who is also a now PADI Instructor, pushed me to follow through with my plan to become a PADI Pro.
How do you think you’ve changed personally and professionally as you’ve moved up the ranks from Open Water to Elite Instructor?
I have always had a strong personal and professional drive to achieve whatever I set my mind to. I also believe in having fun in life – and I have had fun! As an Elite Instructor, I crave the satisfaction of seeing the achievements and accomplishments in my student divers as they, too, climb the ranks of PADI.
What do you consider your greatest achievements in your diving career?
My greatest achievements were obtaining my PADI Course Director rating and also creating VA programs at Rainbow Reef, so our United States military servicemen and women can use their hard-earned and well-deserved educational benefits to become PADI Instructors.
What is your next goal related to scuba diving?
I am determined to obtain my PADI Platinum Course Director rating!
Everyone has a certain style of teaching. When you’re teaching someone to dive, what do you put the most emphasis on?
Fun and enjoyment is my absolute number two priority for my student divers. Safety is always paramount for me. I teach my students how to be safe divers by teaching them to read conditions, giving them proper training and building their confidence.
Tell me what you enjoy most about teaching people to dive.
The thing I enjoy most about teaching people to dive is that it changes them. Body image goes out the window, self esteem and confidence goes through the roof. It creates an inner drive and a huge sense of accomplishment that allows them to tackle other obstacles in their lives. Also, when we teach people to dive, we create more conservation-minded stewards of our ocean planet who want to protect and save the things that they love… that I love.
Describe some of the encounters you have had along the way that inspire you to keep teaching.
There are many encounters that inspire me, most have come in the form of letters and thank you cards from students. I also created the VA programs that we now offer at Rainbow Reef. The gratitude I receive from our veterans is immeasurable — and truly satisfying.
What does diving give you that nothing else does?
Diving is my meditation; it is my church, my fortress of solitude. Diving creates within me not only the sense of adventure, but of peace. Diving also brings me a sense of oneness, a spiritual connection to our planet and a keeps me in a constant state of awe of all the amazement that is our ocean.
How has diving changed your life?
I was in school to become a pediatric internal surgeon when I visited Rainbow Reef in 2006 and got my Advanced Open Water Diver certification; I left there intent on a degree in Marine Biology and a desire to become a PADI Instructor. Now, I live a life that most people only dream about as a full time PADI professional. I get to travel to exotic locations all over the world and see the amazing creatures that share this planet with us.
Do you believe that you change others’ lives through diving?
I certainly believe that I change others’ lives through diving. Not only are they acquiring this wonderful skill that allows them access to our sport and our planet, but I see the sense of wonderment that crosses their faces when they have their first encounter – whether it’s a sea turtle, octopus, hammerhead, eagle ray or a historic wreck.
Describe in a few sentences how you would convince a non-diver about why they should learn to dive?
Have you ever wondered what mysteries lie beneath the sea’s surface? Imagine moving in three dimensional space – like flying– through water. You see fish, rays and turtles you have never experienced, except for those few glimpses on your television. Would you enjoy an adventure encompassing your whole body? Dive, as adrenaline courses through your body with the excitement of the sport all while being fully relaxed in a personal space of meditation and tranquility. The stresses of life slide off your body as you slip beneath the waves, and you are free – to explore, to enjoy, to wonder, to be a child again, at heart and in spirit. Unencumbered by weight, you move freely through the water while being tantalized by the amazing two thirds of the planet beneath the waves. Come dive with me.
Walk me though your most memorable dive experience.
I was doing my Master Scuba Diver Trainer preparation training with Rainbow Reef and my Course Director, Ken Wilhelm in 2008. We were diving on “Hens and Chickens” in Islamorada with my dive buddy, Eric Billips. When we dropped down, we found a nurse shark. So we followed the nurse shark. The nurse shark took us to a sea turtle so we followed the turtle. The sea turtle took us to a reef shark, so we followed the reef shark. The reef shark took us to an eagle ray, so we followed the eagle ray. Then, in the distance I saw a thick grey mass coming towards us. It made me nervous at first because it was a large unknown. Then, all of a sudden, there was a pod of 12 wild dolphins swimming and playing with us; from little juveniles to large bull males, all the members of the pod were playing with us! They stayed for about 45 minutes. It was amazing!
What does ‘My PADI’ mean to you?
PADI has changed my life and provided me with a very enjoyable, comfortable career in an amazing industry that I dearly enjoy. PADI has always been there with a very personal touch to assist me in ensuring the very best training for my students. PADI feels like my scuba family – especially since my fiancée, my father and my daughter are all PADI professionals! “My PADI” feels like mine. It is the personal touch that we PADI Pros put into our industry and our sport.