IN RESPONSE TO LAST NIGHT’S SCUBA POST, reader Dave Parmly emails:

Great observations. My gear is bought from the Boy Scout Sea Base (used for one season…mint condition) for $300 (BC, weight belt/weights, all regs and hoses, Suunto depth/press/compass computer…can’t beat that price. “Rental Quality”…means it’s durable and reliable. Having your own gear makes it FAR more likely that I’ll dive on family trips to Florida. Both my sons have done the dive thing at the Boy Scout Sea Base on Islamorada in the Keys. Great program. Last time was a live-aboard on a sail boat. Awesome to leave land and not come back for a week.

UT has a superb non-credit SCUBA course. It’s NAUI, and boy do they drill and drill and drill…our 16-18 year olds could do everything in their sleep. Very comforting for dads and moms watching their babies go into a potentially lethal environment with every dive. We’ve put over 20 young men and a few adults through it. Many moms have told me how impressed they are in their “scatter-brained” teenagers ability to focus intently when assembling their gear. I say “Well, tell the kid they might die and it gets most kids attention.”

It’s a cool thing to watch “kids” handle the potentially dangerous implications of diving. Of course, I fall into the camp of “You have to expose young men to death and danger as a part of their growth” school. If it’s not done under controlled circumstances, they will seek it under out-of-control circumstances.

Yes, I got my nephew certified when he was 12. He went on to get his helicopter license before he was 18.