Ease Into a Diving Career

By Walt Stearns

Looking for something different in a scuba instruction career development center? How about an IDC training facility that provides its candidates with the training needed to become a PADI instructor as well as providing room and board in a homespun setting? Offering this type of arrangement, in conjunction with its course program, is the Eastern Academy of Scuba Education (EASE).

Haven't yet heard of it? This relatively young IDC/CDC facility was established just four years ago, in early 1992. It is an offshoot of the Deep Six family of Florida East Coast Dive and Watersports Centers (from Melbourne to Stuart, Florida), which have provided dive equipment and services, including instruction, since 1979. In the heart of Vero Beach, Florida, five minutes from its parent Deep Six watersports retail facility, EASE's Instructor Development Center is like no other.

Nestled in the middle of a secluded, three acre tract of oak hummock woodlands, the EASE campus resembles a combination bed and breakfast inn and summer camp. Working from a converted three bedroom, family sized home, the facility features a large, dedicated classroom equipped with all the current audio, video and conventional PADI teaching materials. Complimentary housing, provided for up to 10 IDC candidates, is comprised of a series of bunkbeds in each of the three spacious bedrooms.

In addition to conducting courses, an EASE staff member prepares home cooked meals (no fast food takeout here) each evening. Candidates fix their own breakfasts and lunches from a pantry stocked with favorite food items. With a washer and dryer at their disposal, taking care of laundry is easy. The grounds also feature a 25 by 50 foot pool right off the living room.

Highly Personalized

The concept behind the EASE campus originated from the Hammett family's understanding that becoming a scuba instructor can be a big step, both financially and psychologically. Typically, the duration of an IDC (for candidates already holding a divemaster rating) from start to graduation, including the Instructor Evaluation Course, can be up to ten days. The actual instruction/training is just part of your financial obligation. Often overlooked are the logistics for habitation, dining and even transportation, factors that can add substantially to the overall cost.

Besides removing financial stress, the closeness created by the EASE facility sets an atmosphere conducive for great camaraderie. Additionally, the advantage of having most of the course teaching aids and materials, classroom, pool, etc., close at hand, makes it easy for students to practice anything they feel necessary.

In fact, the only reason IDC students need to leave the EASE grounds is to fulfill the ocean and dive boat training requirements in West Palm Beach, a 75 minute drive from Vero Beach. The usual boat for these field trips is Giant Stride, operated by Capt. Jay Mauney, who also serves as one of EASE's backup course directors.

In addition to the large pool and West Palm Beach dives, a lake across the street from the EASE campus also provides an effective site for some in-water training. The lake is also convenient for accumulating additional dive hours or skill improvement, practicing anything from basic open water training to navigation or search and recovery techniques and the IEC exam that follows the IDC program.

EASE is not limited to IDC. It also provides everything from advanced or rescue, to medic first aid and divemaster training, with the same arrangements, which can be a big help if the goal is to achieve an instructor rating. For already established PADI instructors, EASE provides additional training/certification for medic first aid and DAN oxygen instructor (which allows students to obtain PADI's oxygen provider specialty instructor rating). Job placement is also a part of the services offered by EASE. Stephanie Tillman helps students with this part of their career planning as well as resumes and curricula vitae.

In the short time since EASE opened its doors, it has been awarded PADI's Five Star rating as a full service Instructor Development Center and been certified and licensed by the State of Florida Board of Independent Post Secondary Vocational, Technical, Trade and Business Schools. This means everything in PADI's training programs, from beginning level scuba instruction to IDC instructor ratings is identified as vocational/technical training for career purposes.

When it comes to finding a center for continuing scuba education, it's nice to find a place such as the EASE facility, where the term 'highly personalized' really means something. To reach EASE for more information, call (800) 732-9685; outside the U.S. call (561) 562-8338 or write to Eastern Academy of Scuba Education, 416 Miracle Mile Plaza, Vero Beach, FL 32960. You can also write to the e-mail address at deep6ease@vero. com.