Florida Diving Institute

By BILL HARRIGAN

If you want personal attention during your dive instructor training, check out the Florida Diving Institute in Orlando. This PADI Career Development Center is small in size but big in every other respect. And, personal attention is at the heart of its reputation for graduating well-prepared instructors. They teach the full range of courses from Open Water to Course Director Preparation, including an exclusive three part series called Dive Center Operations, which covers all aspects of dive shop and dive resort operations. The personal attention comes from matching the small class size, generally six to eight students, to a core of dedicated instructors.

Keith Mattson has owned the Florida Diving Institute for 11 years and is the principal instructor. He became a Navy diver in 1962, building his experience as a working diver in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Keith's dive instructor credentials start with PADI Course Director and extend through an impressive range of instructor trainer qualifications, including nitrox and oxygen.

The other two staff members in Orlando are PADI IDC instructor Curt Webb and PADI instructor Robert Beasley. The fourth member of the staff is Celeste Tanguiri, a PADI Course Director who runs the Tavernier location. Yes, that's right, the Florida Diving Institute can train you in either Orlando or the Florida Keys!

The Florida Diving Institute may be a small, personal place but it can provide the full range of instruction and experience that will make you a good instructor. Whatever your interest or intended work environment, you can get the appropriate training here. Keith started the institute with the basics, offering open water and advanced certifications, and expanded gradually into instructor training. Now the Florida Diving Institute carries PADI's Career Development Center designation in recognition of its extensive vocational training curriculum. The PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) is offered each month at the Orlando location and eight times a year in the Florida Keys. After you have finished the IDC, you benefit from more of the institute's personal touch as an instructor accompanies you to the Instructor Evaluation. Of course, the instructor can't help you with the test itself but can substantially reduce the stress of the test by guiding you through the process.

It's the "post-graduate" training that gives you the edge in the dive instructor marketplace, though, and Florida Diving Institute offers a full spectrum of instructor courses. The first post graduate training is PADI's Medic First Aid Instructor, a two day course that includes teaching CPR. Next you can choose from 13 PADI Specialty Instructor courses, including U/W Photographer, U/W Navigator, Night Diver, Deep Diver, Boat Diver, Equipment Specialist, Multilevel Diver, Drift Diver, Oxygen First Aid, U/W Naturalist, Nitrox, Wreck Diver and Drysuit Diver. New instructors seeking jobs in one of the top of the line resorts or live-aboard boats can choose one or more of the three part Dive Center Operations courses. These courses, offered exclusively by the Florida Diving Institute, will provide the training owners of dive operations and resorts look for when they are hiring instructors. Each segment of Dive Center Operations is nine days long and focuses on different aspects of working in a dive center, such as boat operations, equipment repair, compressor maintenance, retail training and coral reef ecology. The Florida Diving Institute also offers training for students and instructors interested in expanding their knowledge of technical diving.

ACCOMMODATIONS INCLUDED

At many dive instructor schools, housing and transportation are extra. Not so at the Florida Diving Institute. In Orlando, lodging is provided at a three bedroom townhouse, often called the Frat House because of the college-like atmosphere. Complete with full kitchen, washer and dryer and three bathrooms, this facility can accommodate both male and female students in comfort and privacy.

Transportation to and from the classroom is arranged by the Florida Diving Institute, as well as pick-up and drop-off at the airport, eliminating the need for a car during training. At the Florida Keys location, housing is also provided but students must arrange their own transportation.

KIDS SCUBA CAMP

In addition to the comprehensive suite of instructor training courses, Florida Diving Institute runs a unique Kids Scuba Camp each summer. Set up for the 12 to 18 year age group, the program offers Junior Open Water, Junior Advanced and Junior Master Scuba Diver certifications. Plans have been made to expand the program this summer to include a series of three week ecology diving programs. In addition to receiving junior diving certifications, the attendees will study the ecology of marine and aquatic life in rivers, springs and the ocean. Accommodations will be provided and, to ensure plenty of personal attention, each session will initially be limited to 10 participants.

SCUBA SAFARIS

Kids aren't the only ones to have fun at the Florida Diving Institute. Keith offers two popular trips called Scuba Safaris. One visits three locations in the Florida Keys and the other goes to seven different freshwater springs in central and northern Florida.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Florida Diving Institute is in the suburbs of Orlando, convenient to all of its attractions but away from the tourist hubbub. The shop, classroom and pool are all co-located so you don't have to haul your gear from one place to another. Much of the in-water training is done at Lake Isis in nearby Avon Park. The institute's Florida Keys courses are held at the Florida Keys Dive Center in Tavernier, which operates two custom dive boats. Areas visited by Florida Diving Institute include wrecks such as the Eagle and the Duane as well as a large selection of coral reefs.

For more information about training or diving at the Florida Diving Institute, call (800) 282-3328 or fax to (407) 849-1427. Outside the U.S., call (407) 843-3483. Letters should be sent to 3465 Edgewater Drive, Orlando, Florida 32804 and e-mail to KAMFDI@aol. com.