“the Ripple Effect” Three Generations Of Divers

By: Patti Clay, MSDT at Jack's Diving Locker

A Family Tradition: The 'Ripple Effect' Through Tree Generations of Divers

A three-generational family residing in Oregon had a goal to make a dream come true for their daughter/ granddaughter Inari. At just 12 years old, Inari has a passion for the ocean; showing interest in marine science and the desire to become “PADI Master Scuba Diver” certified. Thus, her Grandpa Don and her parents Shannon and Todd all got certified as Master Scuba Divers with Inari at Jack’s Diving Locker. They're an inspiring family who are making the most of these challenging times.

It all started with Don, who was the first in the family to become a certified diver at the young age of 20 in Cayucos, CA during his college years at Cal Poly, SLO (San Luis Obispo). Don had a big influence on the rest of the family becoming certified.  He started the  “ripple effect” on all of them becoming divers.

Don influenced his daughter Shannon first. She said she was inspired "when I saw my father go on an organized dive during a family trip in Hawaii. I was intrigued by scuba diving and that sparked my interest. I had the opportunity to take a semester long course at Oregon State University that culminated with my Open Water certification when I was 20.”

Shannon’s husband Todd remembers he “hadn’t thought much about pursuing scuba initially but that changed a few years after Shannon and I were married. While planning a trip to Thailand, we decided to include diving as part of our itinerary, so I earned my Open Water certification from a local dive shop in Portland ahead of our trip.” 

Grandpa and Grandma were instrumental in helping their granddaughter, Inari to first become certified. They gave her a gift certificate for PADI’s Seal Team course. The PADI Seal Team camp is a week-long kid’s diving camp where kids can get Open Water Certified. Inari was thrilled to receive this special gift from her Grandparents as she says “We are a tight knit family. When I was 9, my grandparents gave me the certificate for the Seal Team class because of my interest in scuba.” Normally Seal Team has a minimum age limit of 12 to get certified. “However, when the manager of our local dive shop saw how comfortable I was in the water and how focused I was on learning, she said that I would be able to start training as soon as I turned 10.” From that point on, Inari was dedicated to learning all about scuba! 

So much so according to Don, that once she began, Inari never wanted to stop diving. He says, “following that summer of 2018, Inari started talking of getting Advanced Open Water certified and in wanting to keep up with her, I obtained my Advanced certification, too. The four of us enjoyed a week of diving that summer in Loreto, Baja where Don and Diane spend their summers.” Diane doesn’t dive, but she supports the family bond of diving by sharing in our family post dive highlight stories and she delights Inari whenever she asks her about her training,” says Don and Shannon. “Inari also talked of getting her Master Scuba Diver rating at the same time as her Advanced.”  Don pursued multiple dive specialty courses at this point, taking the PADI Enriched Air Nitrox, Underwater Naturalist and Dive Against Debris specialties among others to catch up to the family in preparation for the MSD.

Then COVID happened. Schedules went topsy turvy....but then it seemed they might have an unusual opportunity to get their MSD rating all together since most business and schoolwork was being done online.  Shannon and Todd scrambled to organize a trip to Hawaii after the state re-opened and specifically wanted to spend quarantine time together as a family before taking their JDL Rescue class together with Don.  Shannon says, “we purposely looked forward to quarantine as we would have more quality time together as a family and thought it would be a good opportunity for that.  It was a family reunion since the last time we were together was last Christmas!  We very much love and appreciate my parents and there is nobody else that we would rather spend time with. We share a love of travel, different cultures and likewise we enjoy time together to just hangout or play family games.” 

After family quarantine time, they embarked on their Rescue Diver certification at JDL.  Don and Inari were Rescue class partners, which Don says “I feel extremely fortunate that Shannon and Todd let me buddy with Inari for the class and fun diving.”  When asked about their experience taking the class and what they liked most, Inari (a petite frame and only 12 years old) said “her size was her biggest challenge, I needed to rescue people that were two times the size of me. I had to learn to adapt to it. After a lot of practice and advice from my wonderful instructors, I was able to do the skills comfortably.” Grandpa Don described his experience as “challenging and that sharing the challenging experience with my family was the highlight.”  Shannon noted “we are very lucky that my father and Inari are dedicated dive buddies. Our love of the water and diving does unite our family. To be honest, I spend as much time enjoying watching them exploring underwater together as I do watching the marine life myself.” While Todd said what he liked most about the course was “obtaining knowledge and hands-on practice that would enable us to possibly prevent or assist with a future emergency situation.”

From start to finish, Inari has completed an impressive set of challenges; from beginning level of Open Water Diver to the highest level of recreational diving certification in only 2 years time, to become one of the youngest PADI Master Scuba Divers at the age of 12!  And she didn’t stop there! She recently got her Manta Ray Diver Specialty on a second trip in October with JDL’s own Manta man, Keller Laros. 

Not only does diving unite this wonderful family in many important ways, but it has had a big impact on their desire to protect the ocean as well.  As divers, we have a unique opportunity to witness amazing marine life and behaviors underwater and understand that protecting the oceans' ecosystems is a critical part of keeping our planet protected.  When asked about ocean conservation and why it’s important, Shannon says “the youth are our future. Their connection to the ocean can and will determine our future. Inari has developed such an intense love of the ocean and marine life that she is contemplating a career in marine biology. The more we educate our youth on ocean conservation and our planet, the better our future will be.”  Todd added that “people often forget that we live in a connected world with our air, land and water all tied together. We all make decisions every day and when given a choice, we should consider the impacts of those choices on the natural environment, in order to preserve and protect it for future generations.”

Inari has come to really love the ocean like the rest of her family and is inspiring others along the way!  She is so motivated to make a difference that she gets involved firsthand whenever she can.  During a family dive vacation in Bonaire, Inari took the PADI Reef Renewal Diver Distinctive specialty. “I was able to clean the coral trees, hang coral on the trees and plant five new corals!  It was such an amazing experience and accomplishment and I am so grateful to have had it.”  Inari even got involved remotely from Oregon during the pandemic by attending our very first ever JDL live online Ocean Fair and Conservation webinar.  We had a diverse group of expert speakers and some Emmy award winning filmmakers presenting that day. During the event Inari was excitedly involved in multiple Q & A sessions with the speakers throughout the entire live broadcast she asked great questions and won lots of prizes with her astute marine knowledge!  She spent the entire seven-hour day online with us fully engaged! Now that’s impressive. Inari said “I was very excited for the Jack’s Diving Locker Ocean Fair because protecting the ocean is so important to me and I wanted to learn more about marine life.  I was on Zoom all day!!” In fact, Inari connected with one of our speakers so much that she hopes to volunteer with their local Big Island program on Reef Health studies run by Kathleen Clark and The Kohala Center. 

Inari’s next goal to check off her list is to become Junior Dive Master certified because she “has heard that PADI is testing a Junior Dive Master course that would be open to teens 15 and up.  I also want to be a Junior Counselor for a scuba camp as well as maybe doing a dive internship at a dive shop like Jack’s.”When asked about their most memorable dive so far, they all agreed it was with JDL. Inari says “it was when I saw a shark for the first time!  I was so excited but a little nervous. However, once I saw them swimming around I got more comfortable and thought how cool and graceful they were.  Now I am NOT nervous to see a shark anymore but really excited.”  Shannon’s most memorable dive was watching Inari experience that shark for the first time. “We were quite impressed that day when Inari mentioned she’d like to see her first shark and the crew made their best efforts (to make it happen) and indeed she saw one.” Todd and Grandpa Don agree their most memorable dive was the Manta Ray night dive. Todd describes it as “amazing, I was mesmerized as I watched the mantas gracefully sail through the water.” 

Don’s says “the night dive with Jack’s has to be a highlight. But overall, without hesitation, The main highlight was when Inari and I dived together as buddies for the first time!”

And while this year has had such a dramatic impact on us all and has been a time of challenges, being close with your loved ones, whether in your family or those we surround ourselves with, this is something to celebrate and be grateful for!

We wish you all a Safe, Healthy and Happy holiday season and that you all experience your own ripple effects! 

 Photos by Keller Laros and Patti Clay