Well, another year has flown by for the Toronto Scuba Centre and we are on the verge of sending our first officially led Toronto Scuba Centre international dive group off to sunnier climes. In light of our first TSC dive trip and the start of the new year, here’s a quick look back on last year and a brief look forward to what we hope to achieve this year.
Numbers, numbers, numbers
2011 saw such numbers of students taking courses with us that they blew 2010 numbers out of the scuba-park. Peter and I were run a little ragged over the course of 2011, especially in the summer months, so much so that our scuba dive crew saw a lot of action and grew a little as well.
We’d like to take a moment to thank the many many many students who took courses with us in 2011, ranging from Open Water to Advanced to Rescue to Divemaster, as well as a number of specialty courses throughout.
It certainly was all-hands on deck pretty much year-round. We would like to send out a special shout-out to all of our dive crew: Christine, Aaron, Carl, Tiff, Chris M., Mario, Niels, Paul, Galia, Danielle and Jungho. Guys, you made it a successful year for us in terms of the number of courses ran and you made it a successful year for an awful lot of students.
Last year saw our usual summer jaunts up to Brockville, however, this time there was a noticeable difference. The year before saw three Brockville trips, with pretty good numbers, but 2011 saw every last space filled and a lot of happy divers!! We even had repeat customers on back-to-back trips! Advanced one weekend, fun divers the next.
Giving a little and trying new Things
Just at the start of the school summer holidays, TSC was approached from a very unique angle to see if we could help out some very special kids. 43 Division of the Toronto Police Service approached us to see if we would be willing to introduce some kids participating in the Cops & Kids programme in conjunction with TAVIS (the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy) to scuba diving. With the extremely kind co-operation of our training facility, we jumped at the chance. Over the course of a month, Peter and I met groups of cops and kids at the pool and gave all of them a chance to breath underwater, feel the freedom of underwater diving and provide an opportunity that possibly would never come their way.
Peter and I are always proud of the Toronto Scuba Centre and all of the students that pass through our training facility, but working with these kids gave us an extra special dose of good feeling over the summer. We hope we get the opportunity to offer this short glimpse into the world of diving to another group of kids next year as well.
And that wasn’t the only large group to pass through our hands last year. We had two other large groups come and try a taste of scuba diving. One of our former rescue students and now DMT’s, Jungho Kim, brought his entire office staff to jump in the pool and experience a little underwater magic over the course of three weeks. Another group of intrigued possible divers!! Thanks, Jungho for getting your entire crew down to the pool and you’re doing great on the DM course … keep your eye on the prize.
Our third group came unexpectedly and right at the end of last year, when we were suddenly swamped and enjoyed introducing a Scout Troop to breathing underwater. All had a great time and we’re now looking to make the Scouts a regular part of the TSC scene.
Some of you may think I have just been paying lip service to changes to the website and that all of our promises have been a long time coming. Well, the very end of the year saw a number of those promised changes installed on our slightly revamped website. Many of you may not notice the changes, but that’s because we have kept the aesthetics of the site intact and simply upgraded many of the pages or added new areas for you to explore!!
One of the most exciting prospects for us is the new interactive portion of the website (also home to this blog). Yes, we’re still working on populating the various interactive pages, but now we have: a gallery, where we will start to post pictures from our family of scuba divers; a world map, where we can log where TSC students have traveled to; we have this blog, which remains, but will be on the interactive part of the site; and, hopefully in the new year, we will start development of a TSC website forum, so that you can discuss dive matters with us and other students directly. There are a couple of other ideas that Peter and I are floating around, but we’re keeping them under our hat for now.
On top of that, we have now made the whole website much more user-friendly for getting information on courses and for signing up. As of January this year, we can now also process MasterCard and Visa, as well as PayPal, so everyone should have at least one way of signing-up!!
On the social media side of things, many of you are now receiving our sort-of monthly newsletters, something we started in the latter-part of last year. We think the newsletter looks great and the unsubscribe rate has incredibly low, but we would be interested to hear any feedback on the newsletter. If you have any thoughts on how our current format looks, the general content from newsletter to newsletter, or if you think we could add something to it, please, by all means let us know.
Finally on the web front, we are more consistently tweeting and updating Facebook. We hope it keeps us on your minds in between newsletters and blog postings, as well as keep you up to date, a little, on what is going on with your favourite dive school/club.
Beyond the web frontier, TSC also has also streamlined its entire approach over the last year. Most of you wouldn’t have much opportunity to see this, but our gear room has been organized and everything is now easily stored, catalogued and managed, so that we can run courses smoother and keep track of everything. This includes the process through which we rent our wetsuits and gear, making the job of getting you lot in the water easier for us and easier for you.
All in all a busy, but productive year, for TSC.
So, what is coming up this year, if so much happened last year? Some of it we have to keep mum, because we like to surprise you occasionally and because certain concepts need to be fleshed out before we can give one or two projects the green light.
What is for sure this year is that we will be doing more courses, all of the time. With a fuller cadre of instructors, as well as a bigger inventory of gear, we are now able to run two or three courses simultaneously, so it’s go, go, go!
Keep your eyes on our website. I know I just described a whole bunch above, but we intend on making some very funky changes or additions over the year. We’ll make some announcements as well, but check back in occasionally. I’m VERY excited about this year, for many reasons, but especially for how cool the website is going to get.
Finally, let’s talk about travel again for one last gasp. The Caymans is our first trip, coming up this Sunday. It is going to be a fantastic trip for those going. But, we are already contemplating the next steps. Later this year, we anticipate setting up another Caribbean getaway, probably in the Fall (Autumn). Our goal after that is probably a much bigger endeavour, such as PNG in 2013. Start thinking about that now and saving those pennies. It’ll be one of the dive trips of a lifetime, but it will be STUPENDOUS!!
And, as always, we will be doing our yearly trips to Brockville. Last year, we had to turn people away when we got booked out, so think about July and August now and book your spot soon.
I’ll leave it there for now, but there will be updates sporadically on new things happening for TSC. I’ve been inspired to write a new blog a few days ago about funky creatures living in our oceans, so I will post a blog on that topic next. Once that is up, I’ll get back to some of the other topics that have been languishing on my list.