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Once upon a time it was hard to get cave trained.

We're going back to long before my time, but word is that if you could identify a cave instructor they would actually try to talk you out of it. Or they might simply refuse to train you until you pestered them for long enough or convinced them you were going cave diving whether you got any training or not. They they might cave (pun intended) and train you.

The custom is obviously not so anymore. Which is a good thing, to a degree.

Thing is: cave diving is not for everyone.

Many divers already know it's not for them and avoid it. Which is fine. Some people are reef divers. Some people are wreck divers. Some people just enjoy poking around at the bottom of a river for fossilised shark teeth. Whatever; takes all sorts to make a world.

But there are also some people who really should probably not be cave diving. As much as the risk of the endeavour can be mitigated, it does take a certain mindset and a certain skills mastery to be done safely both for the diver, the team, and the delicate environment. Most folks who might want it, with concentration and work of varying degrees can achieve what's needed, but the truth is that some folks just don't have it. Which is not a personal shortcoming, it just is.

I suspect, in those early days, before training protocols and equipment had evolved into what they are today (which is to say, generally more structured, dependable, and safer) it was in everyone's best interest to assume that people were of the latter, non-cave-adept variety. To keep people out of the caves unless they were REALLY determined and obviously wanted it with a burning passion. To ensure that the candidate was not the sort of person to treat the training as just some cool card, and would become truly involved with the sport and the community.

All of that was to quantify the degree of how the change is a good thing.

Because training and equipment is so much reliable now. Because there are a great many talented and capable instructors in places all over the world who can instill the sorts of skills and help achieve the right mindset to safely cave dive.

It might mean that people are not guaranteed to make a life-long investment. It might mean that people pursue the certification and never cave dive again. Or that, like so many cave divers do, they cycle in, dive a bunch for about 5 years, and then move on to some other dumb hobby (dumb defined as, "not cave diving").

And that's all OK, too. Not ideal. But OK.

Because the caves are bloody awesome. And for those five years, or possibly only 5 days, they do get a glimpse of what is going on under their feet. Appreciate it. Understand it. See the value in protecting it. And maybe they go on to be better buddies or mentors or simply just better divers.

There is, however, a continued holdover from those old days where instructors were supposed to be circumspect: I'm still not supposed to, as a cave instructor, tell a person, "You should learn to cave dive." Because it still holds true that not everyone should.

But what I was thinking about today, as I brought a fella out for his fourth day of cavern tours...

I don't really have to tell people they should get cave trained.

Much like a drug dealer who offers that first fix, all I have to do is show them the caverns.

And then wait.

Because they'll be back. They always come back for more.

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