Doing a PADI IDC in Bocas – becoming diving instructors

padi-owsi-idc-bocas-wanderlustIn the beginning of 2017 Thom and I did the IDC. But what’s an IDC? It stands for Instructor Development Course! As we both are passionate divers it didn’t take us long to make the decision to go from PADI divemaster to instructor.

After our Mexico adventure where the previously planned IDC didn’t turn out to really happen we moved to Panama to continue our diving education. On the pretty little Panamanian island of Colon (in the area known as Bocas del Toro) we found a new diving center. One that hosts IDC’s. Our plans changed for the better and we became instructors there.


The Prep

A few weeks before the official IDC began Thom and I started the preparations for the course. We studied a lot of diving theory and upon arrival to Bocas we trained our skills in the water together. Our course director was Eddie, who welcomed us to be part of the Bocas Diving Center family while letting us practice the days before the IDC started.

After a few days of being in Bocas one of the two PADI staff instructors arrived. This British fella, Nick, became our close friend within a few days. Same goes for other students that arrived before the course and some that were already living on the island. There was the French Manou, the Catalonian Lara, Carlos the Spaniard, Kat the Canadian and the Panamanian Arelis. Plus, within the first few days another staff instructor from Costa Rica, Nere, arrived.


We went into the water every morning or afternoon. The diving center is located on the water edge and has a pier where you can jump of into the water or where you take the boat. We got some lessons for our theory from the course director and the staff instructor and we practiced exams to see if we actually understood the theory. It was all very helpful to do before the official IDC started and I would highly recommend any IDC candidate to do the prep!


Instructor Development Course

Then the day came to start our IDC program. A hotel room was our home for a few days where we went through presentations about the diving world and especially about standards and styles within PADI. Speaking about the law, about the risks, about the health standards, the prerequisites for courses and so much more!


We sat in that hotel room from 8 in the morning till late in the evening and got loads of information. It was hard to fall asleep after, because our heads felt fried with info. It was intense, but useful and necessary.


After the presentations were done we got into the water. Ready to get scored on how we teach brand new divers.


Our course director would choose two people to pretend to be students and another one to be your assistant. The two students would of course screw everything up and make mistakes you had to take care of. I will never forget that one of my exercises was to take a group of students for a controlled descend and one of my students had to make the mistake to descend with the snorkel instead of the regulator. Being super focused on the skill you might end up missing those giant details during the training and it is really incredible to see which things we all had to fix. The best thing about this kind of training is that you will never let those things go wrong afterwards in real life since you’ve been so well-trained on foreseeing mistakes.


The Instructor Examination

I.E. doesn’t stand for Instructor Examination, but for It’s Easy!”

– Nick Hopes (Staff Instructor)

At the end of the IDC it was time for the I.E., which were going to be the most exciting days of the IDC. A written exam about Physics, Physiology, Recreational Dive Planner, Equipment and Environment, a written exam about the Instructor manual, classroom presentations about theory and the in-water rescue, confined and open water exam for skills and scenarios.

Passing the I.E. was a big step for us and we were thrilled to be part of the PADI professional community!

Specialty Instructor

After the IDC and having done the I.E. it was time to relax. For a day. Because we had to keep on going after. We signed up to become Open Water Scuba Instructors, but we also signed up to become Specialty Instructors afterwards!

Sidemount. The name says it all. You mount on the sides. Normally, in recreational scuba diving, you mount your tank on the back – this is also known as backmount diving. We trained in sidemount diving and became instructors for this specialty. We also became Nitrox, Emergency Oxygen, Gas Blending and Deep specialty instructors.


2017 Photo by Marjolein van Hout

The months after we had a little holiday followed by our trip to Karpathos, Greece. I worked as diving instructor for Karpathos Diving Center from April to October and became Master Scuba Diver Trainer in August. A MSDT has over 25 given scuba diving certifications on her name.

My PADI instructor number: 391839

Have you been thinking about doing an IDC? Are you an instructor now? How was your road to becoming a scuba instructor?


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Ever since I left my home country I felt at home at any other place I went to. I enjoy getting to know more cultures by talking to strangers and hearing their philosophy about life. Speaking with gestures when you can not find a shared language, finding places only the locals go to and learn about their customs and values. Hanging out with local people makes me happy. The experience of every new place is a step out of your comfort zone where I like to wander around until it feels like a second home.

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