A person with a wide circle of friends – one who’s always on the go, attending parties and events — is called a social butterfly. So, maybe a person who is always busy with dive club activities is a social butterflyfish? We’re not really sure. But one thing is for certain: Being a dive club member offers many advantages — including widening your circle of friends.
If you’re already a member of one or more dive clubs, you know this is true. There are many other advantages, too. In this article, we’ll take a look at what dive clubs are about, how you can benefit from being a member, and offer a few tips on choosing a dive club that’s right for you.
Buddies & Pals
Even though all divers are taught to be self-sufficient, there’s truth to the old adage about safety in numbers. It’s always nice to have a reliable buddy to help share the responsibilities of dive planning and lend a hand when needed. Many divers cite the lack of a buddy as a reason why they don’t get out diving as often as they’d like. California dive clubs have rosters that range from a few dozen to a few hundred members. Being a dive club member is a great way to up your odds of finding a dive buddy.
A portion of diving that is often not well emphasized is the social aspect. Diving is fun! And sharing our underwater adventures with others just ups the “fun factor” all the way around.
Adventures that take place while diving can be exhilarating. We encounter the unusual, colorful, strange, and exciting in an environment that can also be challenging. A lot of what we experience while diving is the stuff that our nondiving friends just don’t understand. But our dive buddies? They get it. Our stories about swimming with sharks or dealing with challenging surf entries don’t fall on deaf ears. In many instances, our dive buddies become lifelong friends – and maybe even life partners.
Years ago, we were approached by a giddy young couple that informed us they met through a “dive buddy wanted” ad in this magazine. Their dive outings led to romance, then marriage. They’re dive buddies for life.
Sharing The Love
As a new diver, gaining experience in the water is critical. Diving with an experienced diver will add to your comfort and consequently enjoyment and as a result you’ll dive more often. Within a dive club you stand a much better chance of finding an excellent mentor. Often senior dive club members are more than willing to take newbies under their wing, teaching them tricks and techniques learned from many years spent blowing bubbles.
Are you an experienced diver? Become a mentor at your local dive club and you’ll find novices ready and willing to learn to become better divers. You’ll gain the satisfaction that comes from sharing your knowledge with newer divers, and you’re likely to be inspired by you novice buddy’s excitement and enthusiasm about all the new experiences you’ll share together.
Because the club will be purchasing dive travel as a group, they get a better rate, and in most instances the savings will be passed on to you as a benefit of your club membership. The same goes for chartering a local dive boat, where you’ll likely find that your charter cost is lower than what you’d pay if you were just a single diver on the same type of trip. Any surplus funds from the charter usually go into the dive club coffers for deposits in more trips and other fun stuff.
Professional dive centers love clubs, so much so that many sponsor these important institutions. Dive clubs encourage divers to be long term, devoted and active enthusiasts. Clubs are chock full of deeply committed divers. Dive shop sponsorships often include excellent values on services, trips, classes, exclusive gear giveaways and specials, and discounted pricing on air fills and air fill cards.
Entertainment, Education & Prizes
A good diver is always learning. Most dive clubs have monthly meetings with experts presenting on subjects ranging from specifics on dive locations, the undersea ecosystems, travel, tech diving, and more. These presentations are not just informative but entertaining with humorous speakers and beautiful imagery from the underwater world both locally and around the globe.
Perhaps one of the more entertaining portions of these meetings is the occasional raffle that some clubs stage. Most are fundraisers to bolster the club’s non-profit bank accounts to help pay for charter deposits. The odds are good that you’ll win a prize, which may vary from inexpensive accessories to big-ticket items like dive computers and regulators.
Dive, Dive, And Dive Some More
And of course the best benefit of a dive club is the diving. The wetter the club, the better. Club meetings and raffles are great but the main emphasis is on getting out and diving. A handful of California clubs have by-passed formal meetings altogether and communicate via email and social media to plan meet-ups at local beaches on weekly schedule to get wet.
Tips For Choosing A Dive Club
Here are a few tips to help you select a dive club that’s right for you:
Are they local? It helps to choose a club that holds meetings that won’t require a lot of travel. In major metropolitan areas there are dozens from which to choose.
Are they involved in the local community? The best clubs are involved in the diving community as a whole. There are underwater cleanups, surveys, Chamber Day, and the Scuba Show. Photo contests and film festivals are also other ways clubs get involved. Political activism on behalf of the ocean environment is sometimes a theme of activities.
What is the main emphasis of the club? There are clubs that specialize in free-diving spearfishing, others in photography, still others in beach diving and even a club that specializes in wreck diving. There are two clubs in California that specifically support and are part of the LGBT community. Clubs come in all shapes and sizes and flavors. It should not be that hard to find one that suits you.
Attend few meetings before deciding on a club. By attending a few meetings you’ll get the “vibe” of the group. The better clubs are attended by a good amount of people. Frequently you will see a surge in meeting attendance in the winter when they might not be getting wet. Each club has its own energy and pace.
Given the opportunity, dive with them. This will give you a feel on the competence level of the members. If everybody aboard the boat is using a rebreather, and you’re on scuba, maybe this group isn’t the best fit for you. In this case, give another club a try.
Another factor is the leadership and volunteerism. The best clubs are those with strong leadership, but that also create an inclusive atmosphere, inviting all members to be a part of the club’s activities.
Do they dive California? While this is not a must, it can be quite important on many levels including getting to know the members, their competence, the activity level of the club, and the quality and operative quality of their gear.
You’ve Chosen A Club, What’s Next?
First, fully avail yourself of the benefits. Attend the monthly meetings or scheduled dives. Participate! If available, read the e-newsletter as they often contain tidbits of information that you’ll find quite useful. Of course you can also contribute to the newsletter with your knowledge, experiences, photography and humor.
Shop the dive center that supports the club and let them know your club affiliation. They want to know! The more support you show, the more they will support the club.
Finally, take your membership to the next level — become a leader in the group. An officer in the group is not as much work as you might think and you can steer the club in ways that will benefit all concerned.
Join the club, have fun and become a social butterflyfish!
The author wishes to thank the many dive clubs that supplied information for use in this article.
For an extensive list of dive clubs of the western U.S., see the Dive Club listings on this web site
DUE$ TO PAY?
Yes, many clubs require their members to pay an annual membership fee. Don’t sweat it, though. Club fees aren’t steep and by the time you add up the savings you’ll enjoy with your membership, you’ll be ahead of the game – and depending upon how much diving you do, your club membership could offer you a significant savings on boat charter fees, and more.