Becoming a PADI Scuba Instructor – Our Experiences

So you are thinking about becoming a PADI Scuba Instructor, check out our club’s video of our IDC / IE experience.  I know for me personally this was a big decision,  because of the responsibility, time and costs.  First of all if you are a diver (and at the point of considering becoming a professional scuba instructor) you know by now that this endeavor isn’t cheap.  First you really should have your own equipment at this point, if not then perhaps you should come back when you do.  Secondly you have to have a minimum number of dives, these are cheap either.  Finally there are all the costs associated with getting to the Instructor Examination…

  • Divemaster Course (if you are not already)
  • Emergency First Response Instructor Course (EFRI) – course and processing fees apply
  • Instructor Development Course (IDC) – minimum a week or longer (Assistant Instructor & Open Water Scuba Instructor Course) — price will vary here by your Course Director and location.  We went with Platinum Course Director Camille Lemmens (
  • Instructor Examination (flat fee for exam but does have processing fees not included, dives not included)
  • Specialty Instructor (we completed ours with Camille, he gave us a great rate too).  There are Course Director (CD) Costs plus PADI processing fees too.  Dives may/may not be included depending on CD
  • Lodging – don’t forget you need a place to stay
  • Food – you gotta eat

Ok so you have the money…now your ready right?  Ummmm maybe.  Skills need to be perfect and at demonstration quality.  You also have to be ready and comfortable to present knowledge development in a classroom and conduct confined and open water skills.  Hopefully you haven’t forgot what oyu have learned in your other courses because you will need all that now.  You must consistently conduct an open water rescue and be prepared to recall all the physics, physiology, environment & skills, eRDP (or dive tables) and equipment.  Finally you still have one test left…and open book Standards test.  This test isn’t as easy as it sounds, they ask some very specific and intricate questions that will have you searching everywhere to verify it isn’t a trick question.

Don’t be scared though, if you have a good Course Director (like we did) it will be a constructive learning environment that is as challenging as it is fun.  Read our daily blogs below from our experiences:

  • IDC Day 1 – Practice Tests and Skill Evaluation
  • IDC Day 2 – Pool and Knowledge Development Presentations
  • IDC Day 3 – Graded Skills
  • IDC Day 4 – Graded Knowledge Dev. & Confined Water Presentations and Rescue Diver
  • IDC Day 5 – Graded Theory Test & More Presentations
  • IDC Day 6 – Graded Confined Water Presentations, Remainder of Presentations
  • IDC Day 7 – Open Water Presentations & Rescues
  • IDC Day 8 – More Open Water Presentations and Rescues
  • IE Day 1 – Dive Theory & Standards Exams, Graded Skill Circuit, Graded Confined Water Presentations
  • IE Day 2 – Open Water Presentations, Rescue, Knowledge Dev. Presentation and GRADUATION! Night Diver Specialty
  • Specialty Instructor Day 1 – Search & Recovery, Navigation
  • Specialty Instructor Day 2 – Wreck Diver, Sidemount
  • Specialty Instructor Day 3 – Deep, Nitrox, Emergency Oxygen Provider, Gas Blender



IDC Day 8 (Final Day) – add a new 38th Parallel Diver!

38th Parallel Scuba Divers just before dive

0630 Wakeup
0730 Meet Up
0900 Open Water Dive Briefings at Namae Beach #2
1100 Open Water Dive Skills
1300 38th Parallel Dive
1600 Dinner & Relaxation

The final day of the Instructor Development Course (IDC) was great! We were ALL looking forward to completing our final Open Water Presentations during the IDC and going into the PADI Instructor Exam (IE). Needless to say there was a definite method to the madness which resulted in successful completion of the IDC for all instructor candidates. We can’t recommend his services enough, if you have anydesire to not simply pass the IE but excel during the IE please contact him.

The celebration is definitely bitter sweet because even though all of us did well in the IDC we still had to begin and successfully complete the IE. Talk about stress… not so much because it is anything terribly difficult, because at this point we have done all the skills hundreds of times…the only difference is we have the stress of ourselves on top of us because a PADI Regional Manager will be evaluating each of us and deciding if we will become an Instructor.

New 38th Parallel Divers

After the Open Water skills portion was complete 4 of us headed up to the 38th Parallel to welcome 2 new divers to the 38th Parallel Divers, Dive Club. Our Course Director (Camille Lemmens) and a fellow instructor candidate (Mike Podesta) joined myself and George Smith for a quick dive north of the 38th Parallel. We almost weren’t able to complete the dive because the local police said it was too dangerous of conditions to dive. We were finally able to convince them that a very short dive near the jacks would be ok for us and that made them feel better so they let us go in. As we were coming out of the water the emergency sirens were blaring for everyone to evacuate the water. As we exited we happily welcomed Camille and Mike to the dive club. The dive sites don’t have massive amounts of aquatic life and the conditions are often cold and murky but how many people can say they dove north of the 38th Parallel in South Korea?

Successful completion of the IDC, a dive above the 38th Parallel with 2 new club members…how could it get any better? Want to know what the dive was like? Check out Camille Lemmens Post on his blog about this dive

With some TTak (or Dak) Galbi:
Dak Galbi

Camille new 38th Parallel Diver
Now that our bellies were full of some delicious spicy chicken and vegetables we were able to express our gratitude to our great Course Director, Camille Lemmens. He is actually a PADI Platinum Course Director and it is definitely evident with his amazing talents in mentoring and instructing future dive industry leaders. His dedication was evident throughout the course, we all learned a great deal from this man…so to properly thank him we presented him some SWAG, 2 shirts and some stickers to put up. He can be contacted via his website PADI IDC Thailand.


IDC Day 6 – Final Confined Water Tasks

Group Pic Final Confined Water

0700 – Wake-Up
0800 – Breakfast (perhaps one day, haha)
0900 – Pool (Graded Confined Water Presentations: Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver)
1200 – lunch (at Chili’s finally)
1300 – (Remainder of IDC Presentations)
1700 – Complete

So today we started out the day a bit sluggish but ready to finish out the confined water portion and final presentations. Mainly because we knew we had a day off (Friday) from any diving evaluation. Everyone’s presentations went excellent, definitely improving upon the first ones. It would be nice to go home and sleep in our own beds for a night before we go to Open Water.

At this point I believe each of us (I definitely can) appreciate the process of the IDC. Prior to the IDC whether it was watching other instructors or in preparation for this IDC I thought oh wow this is easy, just read the slates, do the skills that I know and keep divers safe…easy cheesy right? Kind of…only not really (yet). Despite being extremely confident and competent in the water when you have students in front of you it is different, now add the fact that you have someone deciding your fate looking for the smallest details in presentation, problem solving and control. At this point you think anything except perfect skills is a “problem” and you do-it-again. I am sure each former instructor candidate will be able to relate to this. Only a few more presentations for Open Water and we can finally call ourselves….oh wait we still have to do that damn examination thing…

As you approach the end of your IDC you feel more and more like a real instructor and you become excited at the fact that the IDC is almost over hoever every once in a while you remember that you still have the Instructor Examination (IE) to complete. At the IE you have to do it all again but with a new (and more intimidating) evaluator and you better not mess up cause you only have 2 days, 2 tries (on some stuff) and that’s IT. You do NOT want to be a recycle … (I know some of you will know that word…and yes it was from the evil school, if you don’t know what I am talking about no worries you didn’t really miss anything).

Today was the first day where we didn’t have to do a Rescue at the end of the pool session so we were able to quickly get out and prepare ourselves for some much needed comfort foods from Chili’s. Not sure that was such a great idea because the sleep monster would eventually creep up on all of us in the class room and tried to put us each in a food coma.


Once we all started coming out of the food coma we were able to focus on the last 2 presentations on Open Water and several workshops. This was a great transition into Open Water diving in the IDC. Finally the presentations are complete we are able to pack up and relax for a day as we pack and drive out to the East Coast, Sacheon Beach to be exact. Stay tuned for Tomorrow’s post.

IDC Day 5 – Punishment while on Vacation…

PADI IDC Theory exams in progress

0700 – Wake-Up
0800 – Breakfast (perhaps one day, haha)
0900 – Classroom (Graded Theory Tests, 1 Graded Presentations)
1200 – lunch
1300 – (remainder of graded presentations, Professional Membership & Divemaster Presentations)
1800 – Complete

People reading the blog and/or Facebook posts were asking, “Do you Ever Work? All you do is diving stuff.”  NOPE, don’t have to worry about work…we took vacation so we could be punished by our Course Director and IDC Staff.  Not really they have been great; it is us who is most critical of ourselves because at this point we expect perfection from ourselves.

How fitting is it to be listening to Eminem’s Survival while writing this blog? This process does feel like “Survival of the Fittest, this…is…DO or DIE” sometimes. Morale was so high at one point a candidate expressed his feeling of achievement regarding his presentation by saying, “my presentation was so bad I got criticized by my McDonald’s wrapper last night!”

So how did the IDC go today? Well the day started with all dive theory tests: Physics, RDP/eRDP, Equipment, Skills & Environment and Physiology. Every did well on the tests with only a little difficulty on physics for some. There is no doubt that the questions are simply designed to mess with a person. I don’t care how knowledgeable an instructor is these tests will find a way to have you wondering if you even know your own name. Double negatives and weird associative logic where you bring a damn bag with air from 40m to 20m. Do they ask how much air you have now…NOPE. They ask how much it has changed from 40m to 20m, here is my answer… who the hell cares…you have air in a bag at 20 meters. After some directed anger at the demented evil examination creators and a convoluted quasi formula at trying to figure out how the hell you get 5/3 without actually just “getting it” …. ah forget it … just watch the video and smile…Happiness…..APPROVED!


After lunch we moved into presentations with everyone doing well and getting a second passing score. Today there were no longer 20+ minute presentations and we all were able to effectively and efficiently deliver a quality presentation.

Once we have finally given in to the PADI methodology and succumbed to their presentation powers of 3’s (equipment, dives sites, continuing education) we will be ok. HIT THE POINTS and move ON! Where is that video again?



Phew…needed that…morale re-established!

Once we we finished the presentations we were finally able to relax a bit and be students again. We learned about professional membership and conducting the Divemaster course.

Finally we received tomorrow’s confined water presentations….because an IDC course day wouldn’t be complete without homework. Thankfully I was able to get mine done early and focus on this blog a bit. I think we are all ready for tomorrow to be over and head out to the ocean!

IDC Day 4 – Good Presentation, But….

PADI IDC July 2014, Osan ROK, Skill circuit 020
© 2014 Camille Lemmens


0700 – Wakeup
0800 – Breakfast
0900 – Pool (Confined Water Presentations, Rescue #7, 800m Swim)
1300 – Rescue Diver Presentation form CD followed by Instructor Candidate Presentations
1800 – done in classroom

So today we had an stressful and eventful day but everyone performed perfectly in every demonstration, skill and presentation… This is what we wish we had heard.

Everyone did do well and learned a great deal of information via constructive criticism. Everyone was very motivated in the morning to knock out Confined Water Presentations. This was the first time that many of us were being evaluated by a Course Director for Confined Water Presentations (we all did our Assistant Instructor Course with an IDC Staff Instructor). Now you would think that this shouldn’t matter however the aura of the CD (more like the oh shit, I better not mess this up because I am getting graded factor) had us all nervous. At each presentation we would quickly huddle for last minute advice or clarity from our fellow instructor candidates and then want to get right to it. Once our presentations were completed we would come to the surface and try to reassure each other that we did great and scored a 4-5 no problem (just trying to make everyone feel better). The CD and the IDC Staff Instructor would step back and confirm what they each witnessed and us candidates would let each other know what we saw and most importantly let each other know if we corrected all of the problems.

Once all candidates were done with their presentations the Course Director and IDC Staff Instructor went over our performances. In our head we each hit every point and didn’t miss a thing…then we heard the words “That was a good presentation, but…” followed by spirit crushing constructive criticism. It wasn’t really spirit crushing, it was very professional and will definitely assist us in the IE. No one LIKES to hear they weren’t perfect but everyone wants to hear how to improve to pass the IE with high marks. Catch 22.

PADI IDC July 2014, Osan ROK, Skill circuit 045
© 2014 Camille Lemmens
As no surprise we had the Rescue #7 to do. Once again we were able to fine tune our skills and give each other feedback of anything that could possibly deduct points during the Instructor Exam. Proper head control, ensuring to seal the mask and WEIGHT BELT (weight belt), Mask (mask) … oh no the flashbacks have begun…

Once Rescue #7 was complete we used a bit of peer pressure to convince fellow candidates that we should knock out the 800m swim. In his defense he did run 5+ miles that morning prior to breakfast…still can’t figure out why anyone runs when we have cars?? Once that was done we crawled out of the pool and each indulged ourselves with some food that we normally wouldn’t. A few got delicious carb packed bread/cheese sticks while others opted for large hoagies (sandwiches) instead of the normal small…but hey we swam 800m (some more because they forgot count).

Now for our personal favorite…Knowledge Development Presentations. This was homework from the previous night. For some of us it was fresh in our heads form a few weeks ago, and other’s hadn’t done these presentations in 7 months. There is something magical that happens, almost like witchcraft, a candidate makes this great plan that spells out a perfect presentation that hits every requirement…then something happens where (despite it being written right in front of your face, on on the screen) the candidate simply forgets to discuss that item. I think there are evil gnomes that live in my computer or note cards that delete and erase key points, then write them back after the presentation is complete, leaving the instructor candidate baffled by him/her not mentioning a topic that is clearly highlighted…

“P” for plenty is a formula used by demolition experts, this however does NOT translate into presentations. The goal apparently is not to see long you can present a single topic for?? Apparently you should be quick and to the point…who would have thought? In our never ending quest to hit EACH and EVERY graded mark me inundate the audice with repetition and massive details. Did you catch you breath? Everyone passed the presentations…but more are to follow, our class cannot get enough Prescriptive Teaching training.

Once the presentations were done (and the Oreo’s gone…thanks Carel) we had our final presentation of the day … more standards, Adventure in Diving. “Knowing Where to Look Without Wasting Time”.

Finally done for the day right? Hahahahahaha NOPE! We each were given new presentations for tomorrow and oh yea … Dive Theory exam tomorrow (graded). Then of course blogging for anyone who is still reading this post… then perhaps some food and sleep….

Hopefully you enjoyed the read…good night.

IDC Day 3 “Happiness Denied”

© 2014 Camille Lemmens


0700 wake up
0800 breakfast
0900 pool (Graded Skills)

Today’s focus was the graded skill circuit! Talk about nervous. I don’t care how good you feel your diving skills are anytime someone is conducting a critical evaluation of your abilities to perform demonstration quality skills there will be some anxiousness. As expected everyone did an excellent job and remembered all aspects of their skill demonstrations.

© 2014 Camille Lemmens


Once the graded skill circuit was completed we moved right into Confined Water Presentation where our Course Director did CESA (Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent) Presentation, Demonstration and Instructor portion for us to see first hand. This was a great aid to see exactly what will give us maximum grades.

As any former IDC candidate can tell you it would be a day in the pool without rescue #7. Day 3’s rescue went even better, now that it is becoming muscle memory we can focus on perfecting each individual sub-tasks and better determine what is the best way to accomplish each little detail that we will be evaluated on. This is also a great place to find out how fellow candidates’ equipment works and is removed effectively.

I am sure that some of you looking at this title you immediately thought that one of our fellow instructor candidates had a problem with skills or some other task. This wasn’t the case, in fact this comes from a fellow instructor candidate, Carel, who said “Happiness Denied” as a response to not being allowed to watch the über motivated PADI actors performs skill demonstrations for a second and third time. While Carel and the all the instructor candidates were eagerly looking for more entertainment others were invoking post-lunch siesta rights…

Allen Sleeping
© 38thParallelDivers

In his defense he has been extremely busy ensuring all the logistics and coordinations are made and in-place for each day’s events like classroom setup, equipment repair and more.

To finish out the day we were given our Knowledge Development Lessons and our Confined Water Presentation topics to complete as homework and be evaluated on first thing in the morning. Ok everyone…it has begun…we will now be evaluated on our actual Instructor skills! Briefing, demonstrating, problem solving, controlling & delivery, debrief…and that’s just for the confined water. Knowledge development is set in a classroom environment and requires Intro, Content, Summary and Overall handling (and many sub tasks, participation, visual aids and more).

Since we are all fairly tech savvy we decided to leverage some collaborative technology in order to provide the best content…we will be using Google Docs to create a shared word processing document that we can each simultaneously work on. Each candidate has his/her own section that can be seen by the entire class in real-time as it is being created. Google Docs also allows for the class to text back and forth to each other as any questions/concerns arise. We will see how this helped everyone out tomorrow. Wish us luck!

On a non-IDC note we just had customized mesh Dive Gear Bags (with the 38th Parallel Divers Logo of course) designed today. We are told they will be ready 18 August 2014, we will post a picture once they are complete with final prices. Anyone interested please let us know (please message us on our Facebook Page).

IDC Day 2

Rescue 7 for IDC Students
0700 wake up
0800 breakfast
0900 pool

Doesn’t sound to stressful at all when I am typing out the initial timeline however after late night studying and blogging from the night before 0700 came faster than I wanted.

Today we immediately hit another skills circuit this time without demonstrations prior to skills. This was another great opportunity to get constructive criticism. Remembering to SLOW DOWN was a common theme throughout the skills for some while over exaggeration was for others. All-in-all our fellow instructor candidates did really well.

We even had to master a new skill (perhaps a distinctive specialty in the future) avoidance of the “Cleaner of Terror”! This insane self-propelled evil robot was trying to kill us all. At one point it either attempted to choke out divers with its cable or suck up our fins. This was a stealthy little bastard that would lie in wait for instructor candidates to be mid skill…then with the speed of a bullet and cat-like prowess it would attack! Finally though it gave up as it did not like the taste of rubber and neoprene.

Once that battle was over watched “Control” workshop. This provided a block of instruction on how to best control students while we were instructing as well as best positioning recommendations during the IE. While the primary focus isn’t the IE, it is obviously extremely critical to pass…without passing there is no teaching. We were reminded several times to remember to be close but not intimidating and NEVER turn your back on students (they might just disappear). Some great points that we will all hopefully remember to implement immediately.

Next came the rescue workshop where we covered several of the skills that would be needed to be demonstrated (possibly) during the IDC/IE. We covered several skills like panicked diver underwater and how to safely get a victim (patient) out of the water without drowning them.

Finally…as no surprise to anyone who has attended an IDC we had to perform rescue number 7 again, this time with a pocket mask. Today’s rescues went MUCH better and we were able to switch buddies to learn each others’ equipment. Once we got the “O.K.” from our instructors we packed up and headed out to lunch.

After the food and coffee coma set in we were given a few moments to prepare for more theory exams, this time we finished off the remaining theory: physiology, skills and environment, Recreational Dive Planner (RDP or eRDP), and equipment. Once again everyone did well (and passed). Once again we were reminded RTFQ and RTFA (read the F***ing answers… read what ALL the choices are).

Because Standards Are Important Everywhere You Go…

Finally confident in our theory knowledge we moved right into some more presentations, this time all about the Instructor Manual and the PADI standards. We were given some great practice questions and went over how to effectively and efficiently search the digital version of the Instructor Manual. This also provided opportunities for us to “what if” our Course Director and his IDC Staff Instructor. This was an important dialog for us because (as most Expat divers in Korea should know by now) Korea dive shops/resorts/instructors live by slightly different rules and regulations. This is especially true of insurance, there are very different requirements. Once this workshop was completed we were finally able to relax and get some food.

Stay tuned for Day 3…

The blog picture was courtesy of our Course Director, Camille Lemmens and his blog post can be found at

IDC Day 1 – It Has Begun!

IDC Day 1 Group

The PADI IDC has begun…technically just the OWSI (Open Water Scuba Instructor) requirements because all of us attending are already certified PADI Assistant Instructors. That being said 3 candidates just finished the AI course so it should be fresh in their heads and 2 of us finished 7 months ago so the repetition is great for us.

It is definitely intimidating to start a course that tells you if you have what it takes to instruct others. I believe most of the stress is self induced (at least for me); our Course Director (CD) has been great in creating a relaxed, professional environment; which is critical for a positive experience.

The morning started off with a good breakfast, some of the candidates got together to talk some smack to relieve the tension before training. Others met up at the end of breakfast just prior to the start of Day 1.

After paperwork and presentations we dove right into the physics practice test which every passed without difficulty. Our CD opened up the class to questions on anything that we wanted to get a better grasp on and we also received the best advice (applicable to all tests):

1.RTFQ – Read The F***ing Question
2.ATFQ – Answer The F***ing Question
3.TTRB – Tick the Right Box (fill in the correct box on the answer sheet)
4.TAB – Tick a Box (no answer will definitely be WRONG)

I know I left out a few so I apologize to my fellow candidates and CD.

After the classroom we went to lunch followed by the pool. In a few moments were were about to be evaluated by a Course Director. But this experience was great, we were able to see perfect skills demonstrated by our Course Director and his IDC Staff Instructor just prior to us having to complete the skills. At the completion of every skill we were provided good feedback and tips for success during real-world instruction as well as some IE specifics.

Once skills were completed we got into Rescue 7. Rescue 7 is one of those skills that cannot be taken lightly; first off if it is needed in a real world situation someone’e life is literally in your hands, secondly there are so many sub-tasks that need to be completed (many in a specific order). Our class was able to get in 2 rescues each which left us feeling good about our improvement from the first rescue and got us all back into the mindset of PADI professionals.

Clean-up, refill tanks and FOOD! However the fun doesn’t stop there, we all had homework assignments to complete as well as any personal studying and visualization for tomorrow’s dives.

Quick write-up on the blog then finally SLEEP, see you all tomorrow!

The blog picture was courtesy of our Course Director, Camille Lemmens and his blog post can be found at, specifically here

New Emergency First Response Instructors (EFRI)

EFRI-Fun 2

This past weekend we headed down to Osan Air Base to attend the Emergency First Response Instructor Training conducted by Aquatic Frontier. This was the second step in our progression toward the PADI IDC/IE & MSDT that begins on 25 July. Our first step was completing the PADI Assistant Instructor (AI) Course.

The weekend was packed with all kinds of training, videos, presentations and exams. We had knowledge reviews, skills assessments and instructor assessments to complete. The simulated scenarios were fun despite being serious. It was great working together with some of our fellow IDC instructor candidates Carel and Mike.

One of the biggest benefits of this course is that you can teach your friends and family (as well as future customers) how to save a life…is there anything better (who knows the life might be yours). These skills are also great for new parents or anyone with children in the house…who wouldn’t want any of their children to know how to help their siblings?

Once all the training was done we were able to decompress with some not so serious photos…


Preparing for the PADI IDC and IE

As some of you know a few of us 38th Parallel Divers are preparing for one of the most exciting recreational scuba courses that PADI offers, the PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) and the Instructor Exam (IE). Needless to say I am, and I am sure that the others planning to attend are, nervous; but in a good way.

Aside from the fact that we are all putting in significant time (having to take about 2 weeks vacation time off) and money (approximately $2000) we are ultimately being rated on our abilities in instructing others in a safe and precise manner. This is without-a-doubt critical to ensure we teach safe and environmentally friendly habits and techniques to students who might in turn instruct students later in their diving career.

We know that we will be tested in 4 major sections:

  • Classroom Instruction
  • Confined Water
  • Open Water
  • Dive Theory & Standards and Procedures

I believe the nervousness comes from wanting to get everything absolutely perfect and on the first try.  While this is something great to strive for it doesn’t always provide the best learning, sometimes getting it a bit incorrect (or less effective) will allow the CD (Course Director) to show us a better or preferred technique.

How have we prepared?

  1. Get in LOTS of diving (real skills in a real environment)
  2. Re-read the PADI Encyclopedia of Diving, take the tests from previous courses
  3. Get to the pool and hit the demonstration skills until you are comfortable doing them slowly, precise and demonstrating key points

Because I am (and I know the other divers are as well) a perfectionist I wanted MORE preparation, more visualization, more understanding of best methods…but how?  I stumbled across Steve Prior’s YouTube Channel; according to his site he is a PADI Platinum Course Director.  The best thing about the videos is that they are FREE!  Steve does also offer Distance Learning IDC Prep (£125 approx $214).  For us this is a bit too much to spend just prior to the IDC; especially since the IDC is entirely designed to prepare instructor candidates for the IE.

Here is one of the free video from Steve Prior (Skills for the new 2014 OW Course):


Our IDC is being taught by Camille Lemmens, a Platinum Course Director, who has a massive amount of experience and knowledge (which is why we reached out to him to come here and instruct us).  

Our IDC starts on 26 July 2014, stay tuned to see what it was like attending our 2014 IDC/IE in South Korea…for now we have to hit the books and keep preparing…wish us good luck!