It all started when Jake Whitlock, a 13 year old ocean-lover from Massachusetts got a writing assignment for school. His task: write about something he would love to do. His finished paper was 3 pages of underwater adventure centering around his desire to go diving with some guy named Jonathan Bird. (Hey, that's me!) He e-mailed it to us--and we loved it. Then we started hatching a plan to make his dream come true. With his parents' permission, we enlisted the assistance of Katherine Apse, a scuba instructor working for United Divers in Somerville, MA. Kat specializes in scuba certification for children and young adults. Because Jake is 13, he can be certified with a full adult certification. Kat and I met up one morning near his house and hiked up the street with Cameraman Tim and Production Manager Julia Cichowski for an "Ed McMahon Moment." Jake's parents knew we were coming, but Jake didn't.
I knocked on the door and Jake answered--and his expression said it all! He was shocked and thrilled! The Blue World film crew was at his front door! I introduced him to Kat and explained that she was his new scuba instructor. You have never seen a 13 year old light up more than to discover he is getting certified to dive, and he will be going diving with someone he watches on TV.
Over the next few weeks, we showed up randomly during his scuba course. We filmed him in the classroom, his first breaths underwater in the training pool, and even his first dives in the ocean. We dove together in some murky water in Nahant, MA on his first open ocean training dive. His certification at this point is almost done, but the adventure is only half over. We plan to take him to a tropical island for his big dives with the JBBW team. But which island? Well, that's a surprise. Can't give everything away just yet.
This will be a fantastic segment for season 3, especially for the younger viewers in our audience when they realize that they too can become scuba divers!