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How Kids Sea Camp Started

It all started with a simple idea…

How Kids Sea Camp started 22 years ago, with a few conversations and some notes on a napkin, in a bar on a beach. I thought it should be a simple concept. If you have a family, love the ocean, diving, beaches, snorkeling, and traveling. And most importantly want to meet like-minded ocean lovers and their families, then you should have someplace to go.

Easy right? Wrong, most dive shops and resorts didn’t want families on their docks.

They wanted the easier-to-manage adult diver— just show them the boat and the bar and a week later they were gone. The concept was to have all ages of kids and adults learning to dive, learning to become a better diver, and having families really meet other families that loved the ocean. It’s crazy to think that’s how Kids Sea Camp got started on a bar napkin on the beach, but it did.

So in 2000, Kids Sea Camp started in Curacao with only seven families and one resort. The perfect family vacation! “If I could save time in a bottle”, as the old Jim Croce song goes, I would like to capture and savor some of the special moments I have spent at Kids Sea Camps over the years. Or like our company slogan is “Give them a week they will remember forever.”

A moment that comes to my mind is the first Kids Sea Camp when Melissa Pascal just 6 at the time arrived at our first event with her mom Carolyn Pascal. Melissa was just so excited to meet my two children Jennifer 4 and Robbie 6. There was a real connection with the kids that I knew transcended a normal vacation. I knew at that moment this was going to be a journey of friendships and memories to last a lifetime. From then to now, it’s been an amazing journey, full of discovery, and adventure.

There are so many moments that come to mind when thinking of Bahamas, Curacao and Honduras are beautiful blurs of dolphins and diving. Fiji then takes me back to the most unforgettable emotions of a truly happy family Thanksgiving in paradise.

It’s wonderful how the kids have grown and the families stay in touch. Grand Cayman was once upon a time, my home and the place where Robbie was born. The moments shared include releasing turtles from the turtle farm and drawing their name from a fishbowl. So many years of dotting fun and parent poetry at Cobalt Coast Resort and Divetech. l love listening to Arie play the harp, Tom singing, and the sound of steel drums during the most beautiful sunsets. The joy on the face of parents as they descend down those magnificent walls. Watching the excitement on all the kid’s faces when they open their very own SeaLife Digital Cameras, and wide-angle lenses and learned how to shoot.

I’ve been going to Bonaire at Buddy Dive, since 1997, I still love sitting on the dock watching sailboats and sunsets while enjoying a glass of red wine with my good friend Carolyn Pascal. We sit and proudly watch all the kids jumping off the dock with brave giant strides, geared up and going on their first-night dives. She and I laugh so hard watching the kids each year, getting licked by the donkeys while sitting in the back of the trucks as we drive through the park on a donkey safari. I like to photograph the families, sailing around the world’s largest salt track on Blow-Karts, racing each other and laughing as the parents try to catch up with their kids.I can still smell the smores Nancy makes with the kids at the bonfire on the beach.

With all of that adventure came the request for even more, and our next added destination – Costa Rica did not disappoint. It’s amazing what can be created from listening to kids. Memories of the white water rafting through the rainforest, horseback riding in the cloud forest, watching fathers and sons go off surfing, with a day at the spa for mothers and daughters. A memorable moment was covering ourselves with warm volcano mud at the baths. We topped it off with 4 days of diving, creating the most brilliant please-all vacation.

Our first Liveaboard family trip, to the Galapagos, which is the most memorable for me! Seeing the families dive and snorkel with young sea lions, swim with penguins as well as learn all about Charles Darwin. ScubaPro sponsored all our 5 and 7 mm wetsuits, nothing but the best on that trip! A great memory of Wayne Hasson during sunset over Darwin’s Arch, with Tom and Robbie as he played the guitar and sang for us all one night on the top deck of the Aggressor. Families attained their Nitrox and advanced certifications. I had a paint-off with the two Aggressor Boats that traveled with our families side by side throughout the week. Whale sharks, wild dolphins, beautiful sunsets, and the most amazing land tours, a million moments come to mind.

I’ve never been one for a traditional Thanksgiving and look forward to telling my own family the turkey is being served in Fiji, Palau, St. Lucia, or where ever Kids Sea Camp goes. It’s best to share these holidays with diver families from all around the world. It really gives a whole new meaning to Thanksgiving, sitting side-by-side eating and laughing with families from Russia, the US, Canada, and even Australia. The year comes to a close for us with turkey being served with a ceremony of dancers and local song. We even have a flag football game called KSC Turkey Bowl on Thursday afternoon. The one-of-a-kind football game is headed into its sixth year.

Kids Sea Camp continues to add and change things like; SeaLife cameras and PADI specialty programs like Underwater Naturalist and Jr. Adventurer. Zombie Adventure for kids already certified to dive. When the diving activities officially end in the afternoon you might imagine that the kids would’ve had enough, not so, then comes painting, beach BBQs, SeaLife photo clinics, volleyball, basketball, fly fishing, poetry contests, and even a talent contest on the closing night.

Kids Sea Camp now travels during spring and summer break weeks, the Thanksgiving holiday, and diving during New Year’s holiday. The resorts we represent are in countries all over the world, Indonesia, Palau, Philippines, Dominica, Belize, Bonaire, Roatan, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac, Grand Cayman Yap, Fiji, St. Lucia, Australia, Galapagos, Sea of Cortez, Mexico, and the Socorro Islands. And in 2022 Kids Sea Camp is heading to Komoda and Turk and Caicos

So that’s how Kids Sea Camp started some 22 years ago. A simple idea to be with my kids and spread the love of the ocean. One unforgettable moment after another it’s been quite a journey.

By Margo Peyton, founder, and owner of Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures


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