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Kids Diving

Grandma, You’re a Badass!

By Margo Peyton

Three generations of the Danks family enjoying a forever memorable experience. Photo: Kids Sea Camp

There is something special about this generation of grandparents. They are adventure-spirited, filled with wisdom, and enjoy outdoor fun with their grandkids. We looked to our parents when we were young children, trying to navigate the way of the world: learning how to ride a bike, drive a car with a manual shift, “fancy dance” for a prom, cook something more than mac-n-cheese out of a box, tie our first tie, or braid our own hair.  I even remember learning to whistle from my dad (but I learned to carry a tune from my mom!)  Somewhere along the line, we move on and somehow we think we have figured it all out and somehow passed our parents along the way.

The old Harry Chapin song Cat’s in the Cradle comes to mind. Today’s kids out type us, out tech us, out browse us. They are in a world where making appointments is done without talking to anyone, taking classes is done online without a teacher. Football has become bigger in fantasy than on a field. (I recently heard an NFL football player saying on a radio show that he was sad the team he played for had lost the game, but that the quarterback he played against was on his fantasy team, and it was doing really well, so it was a good loss for him.) World sports include drone racing and robot wars. Kids don’t need to go to a mall or a grocery store or even a library anymore; they can do it all online. No need to meet people in person, there is the new talking, called texting. No need to go visit grandma and grandpa, just skype them and sing happy birthday, or show them your new puppy. Where am I going with this? The current generation of grandmas and grandpas are the coolest ever! They inspire me and make me look forward to following in their footsteps. They are letting their hair be grey; they are fit and taking care of themselves both mentally and physically. They walk their dogs, ride their bikes, still dance and sing, they read paper books, and they take their grandkids scuba diving!

They take vacations and they travel. They taste new foods, meet new people, and travel in style. Moreover, they enjoy their kids and grandkids. They make time for being together and having fun. They are cool grandparents (according to their grandkids) and they are teaching their adult kids the importance of disconnecting from their virtual worlds and reconnecting to each other. Kids grow fast. You have seventeen summers with them.  Seventeen summers to make memories and impact their lives with something meaningful. How can you be more fun than a video game or draw their attention with real words, not in a text message?  Show them something they can’t record for later. Give them zero gravity, blowing bubbles, new sights, new sounds, a new world to explore. It’s almost as good as taking them to outer space. There are aliens and sharks and blue holes and sunken wrecks; night dives and scooter dives, flora dives, muck dives, and drift dives. Diving means endless adventures that are so cool—and even cooler when you tell your friends that you’re doing it all with your grandparents this summer.

Carol Danks reaches dive 600, an inspring miletsone for her grandchildren. PhotoL Kids Sea Camp

Engaging Them

One of my clients, Carol Danks, recently told me that after she surfaced from her 600th dive—which she celebrated in Cayman Brac with her four adult children and three grandchildren—that her granddaughter, who was walking on the dock on the way back to the dive shop with her, looked up at her full of pride and said, “Grandma, you’re a Bad Ass Grandma!”  Carol confided in me, “Margo, I didn’t know what to say! I was shocked at first, because I didn’t know quite how to take that, and then my granddaughter said, ‘Grandma, that’s a good thing!’” 

I have enjoyed diving with many grandparent/grandchild groups this past year, and I have made a point of asking every grandparent what was so special about scuba diving that made them choose a dive vacation over other options. Each and every one of them said something along the lines of, “Because it gets their heads out of their phones and engaging in life, and spending quality time having fun with us. They are not texting or watching videos. They are not even thinking about it. There are right here living in the moment and happy to be doing just that. They love scuba diving and they think it’s so cool that we old people do, too.”

I hear over and over, this is the best vacation ever. I have grandparents still diving with me and well into their upper 70’s. Not only are they creating memories to last a lifetime, but they also are passing the torch to the next generation of divers. They are leading by example and instilling good habits in younger divers.  Experience, love, and time is shared between family members who dive together. It helps to lessen fears, build character, and reinforce bonds.

No matter what is going on in their family’s lives, kids and grandkids are always excited to figure out the time for that family scuba vacation. Time is what is most important in life. It’s the one thing that we have less and less of as we age, so what we decide to do with our time becomes an important decision. It’s worth making time to create memories to last a lifetime. Material things are no longer the most important anymore—time with family is. Diving is one of the few adventures left in this world that we can continue to do easily as we age and allows us to have with great fun together as a family. Diving with grandma and grandpa does the family good!

My kids are all grown up now, 22 and 25. I do imagine myself twenty years from now in my 70’s, hopefully diving with my grandkids, too. I want to be a Badass Grandma some day!

Margo  Peyton is the founder of Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures, recipient of the DEMA Reaching Out Award, Woman Divers Hall of Famer, and the PADI Award of Excellence in training and education, with over 6,000 certified kids and zero dive accidents!  For more:

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