Who remembers their first encounter with SCDC? Was it your first visit to an ABC social, your first dive as a guest or a chance conversation with an existing SCDC member that led you to joining up?
I certainly remember very vividly and fondly the chain of events in my early days with the club, and have been thinking about this recently, in light of one of our newly formed SCDC committee goals. I’ve even been digging out my old log books to look for my first SCDC dive.
As you might have read in my last post, the committee has established seven guiding goals under three broad themes of ‘Variety, Growth, and Community’. One of the goals is to ‘Develop a coherent recruitment strategy and induction process to grow and retain the SCDC membership’. Over the last month or so we have seen a steady trickle of guest divers on club trips, and have also very happily welcomed quite a few new members. However, it has become clear that the process of welcoming, supporting and informing new members, from the first moment they contact the club to becoming fully participating SCDC divers, is perhaps not quite as streamlined as it could be.
In order to come up with a cunning plan to improve our induction process I would like to establish a small working group to think through the issues and come up with some proposals. The group will have 2 or 3 committee members included, but we are also extending an invitation to interested non-committee members who would like to get involved. I imagine that your initial commitment will be limited to just one or 2 short meetings. If this is something that you would like to do, please fill in this very short form, or contact me directly.
Potential new members to the club come in all sorts of varieties of course, from experienced, fully-kitted out divers moving to Hong Kong who want to continue their diving in our wonderful club setting, to complete beginners looking for their first underwater experiences. I think there is also huge potential to attract already active local divers who are going out regularly with commercial dive operators, to come and dive with us and experience that ‘sense of belonging’ that has been identified as such a strong positive feature at the heart of our club . The aim of the working group will be to come up with a set of flexible, responsive processes that can support and welcome this wide variety of new members and help them settle into the club.
As for my own first SCDC experiences back in 2005, I arrived in Hong Kong as a recently qualified Dive Leader and an active member of a local club (Huddersfield BSAC 18). Whilst Emily’s priorities were to find somewhere to live, open bank accounts, and settle into a new job, I set about trying to find a new diving home that would be equally as much fun as my old club had been. My first visit to ABC started in some confusion as I wandered into the Marina Club and asked where the divers were. I was somewhat surprised that a bunch of potentially crusty neoprene-fettishists would be hanging out in such a luxurious place, and was soon pointed in the right direction towards ABC by a helpful security guard. My chuckle muscles were well exercised that first evening by Neil Hambleton, Jason Pacey, Paul Bayne and others and before long I had signed up for my first dive. Turing up on the ABC junk with my very chunky and robust equipment, carefully selected for the usual British diving conditions certainly raised a few eyebrows - 5mm gloves, a 3L steel pony cylinder and a chunky reel that could be operated by frozen hands in the aforementioned gloves were all part of my regular set-up. Rob Christie was my first ever SCDC buddy and our first dive together was to 16m at Fury Rocks according to my logbook. My notes documented a ripping current and “quite poor” visibility of around 2m (actually I think that was probably generous!). Looking back at my notes recently, I was amused that I commented that “I’m not really sure what I’m looking for in Hong Kong yet” - a state which some might argue has not changed since.
So, what do you remember about your first encounter with SCDC? It would be good to hear your experiences over a drink or between dives sometime. And if you would like to contribute to the club by helping to support the newcomers of the future, don’t forget to give me a shout, or fill in the form at the link above.