INDUSTRY NEWSSSI EXPLORERS LAUNCHED FOR JUNIOR DIVERSScuba Schools International has replaced its old Scuba Rangers junior programme with a new one called SSI Explorer, to encourage children from six to 11 to enjoy underwater activities.

The set of courses begin by offering ‘a solid foundation in ocean conservation’ through the introductory Blue Oceans Explorer component, followed by snorkelling training in confined-water environments to earn participants their Snorkel Explorer rating.

After these initial experiences, SSI Explorers can select from Scuba Explorer, Mermaid Explorer or Freediving Explorer courses, or pursue all three ratings. Those below the minimum open-water scuba qualification age of ten can try it out under supervision in the pool or confined water.

As they gain underwater experience, SSI Explorers can then expand their knowledge in any or all of 22 directions through speciality courses such as Marine Mammal Ecology, Photo & Video, Boats, Night & Limited Visibility, Underwater Model or Search & Recovery.

Completing two of these courses earns a Speciality Explorer recognition, four Advanced Explorer, and a Rescue Explorer speciality can lead to Master Explorer status, complete with certification cards.

The courses combine direct guidance and supervision by SSI Explorers instructors with manuals for self-study, featuring explorers Emma and Nico, Spike the shark and turtle Shelly.

The programme has been devised as offline and book-based to encourage children to interact directly rather than virtually with the marine environment. “Besides fun for the whole family, your children who have not yet achieved the minimum age for scuba diving will learn important life-skills,” SSI promises parents. “These underwater adventures will enable young divers to acquire maturity, self-esteem and a sense of responsibility.”

Quizzes, challenges, sticker sheets, colouring pages and a logbook feature are included in the manuals.

The Scuba Rangers programme had run for more than 20 years. “All SSI Scuba Rangers Instructors will have the ability to upgrade to SSI Explorers Instructor free of charge, using SSI’s Sponsored Upgrade area when logged in to divessi.com,” said SSI Manager UK & Ireland Andrew Rose.

“SSI Explorers is a versatile programme that is designed to be delivered in a flexible format,” he explained. “This way centres can build it into their schedules whatever their business model.”

Pricing would depend on the parts of the programme offered by a centre and on participants’ choice of activities. “The child also has the opportunity to complete activities with more than one centre and have it count towards their ratings,” said Rose.

“Resort-style centres will probably offer it as a course with a fixed programme and price; in home markets many centres offered the Scuba Rangers programme as an ongoing kids’ club and charged for activities accordingly. I would expect that these centres might continue to offer the Explorers programme in this way, with weekly activities.”

Recommended retail price of the Explorers Kit, including training material and registration, is £22.50. www.divessi.com