Your day starts at 07:00 with breakfast. After breakfast, the plan for the day is reviewed. Some volunteers will be doing scuba courses, others will be out doing marine research, underwater cleanups or community work. Sometimes you’ll take part in shared efforts by the whole organisation, but in your first many weeks, you’ll spend the vast majority of your days on scuba training. We’ll usually have lunch around one or two o clock - if you’re doing work far from our base, you’ll eat your lunch at a local market there. After lunch we often continue with our various activities until sometime in the afternoon. During your training, you’ll spend quite a bit of time studying in the afternoons, or discussing dive theory with your instructors. Later in the program, you’ll be more engaged in entering survey-data on computers or various base work.
The evenings are different. At times you will be at work analyzing data collected on the dives or studying for your next scuba course, but often you’ll just want to relax and unwind with fellow volunteers. What you do after dinner in the evenings is very much up to yourself. You may want to organize a game or movie night, share a drink and a laugh, get people around a camp fire or something completely different. Other options would be to go on a night dive, go for a run, catch up with friends and family at home using our free WiFi, work out in our gym or just quietly read a book. It really is up to you.
When you wish to have days off, you can let us know. This may be to experience other islands elsewhere in the Philippines, to go for a visa-and-shopping run to Dumaguete, to explore the area on a motorbike or just to have a day to yourself and laze in a hammock with a book. While we feel the work we do is important, we don’t expect you to take part in everything all the time - especially if you stay for months. (But if you want to, you’re most welcome!)
Sunday is always a day off. No volunteers are allowed to do any diving, except during unusual circumstances. The reason for this is two fold - firstly it’s important to off-gas from time to time so you don’t get the "Friday Bends" (a slang term in the dive industry, where divemasters and instructors can load their bodies with gas day after day, until they eventually experience symptoms of decompression illness). Secondly, we wish to give our staff a day off as well. Obviously food needs to be cooked, but other than that, nothing happens on Sundays, unless you organise it yourself. (When’s the last time you went swimming in a mountain lake, visited a faith-healer or sang karaoke anyway?)
To enroll in the PADI divemaster course you’ll need to have certain prerequisites in order. You do not need to arrive at Marine Conservation Philippines with any dive experience (But if you do, that’s great!), but by the time you start your divemaster course, the prerequisites must all be sorted. If you arrive as a non-diver or as a diver with very little experience, (Say only a handful of dives and the Open Water Course), you will have to spend some weeks to build up your experience and do the prerequisite courses, before enrolling in the DM course.
The progression in PADI courses is outlined below. Unless you’re already certified to a certain level, you’ll have to do them one by one, until you can start the divemaster course. You can purchase the manuals you’ll need and pay for the certifications at base (cost listed below too)
Open Water - USD85
Advanced Open Water - USD85
First Aid + Rescue Diver - USD65 + USD85
Divemaster Course - USD200 (materials only, certification payable directly to PADI)
8 weeks - If you’re already a rescue diver and have 40 logged dives
10 weeks - If you’re already an open water diver with at least 20 dives
12 weeks - If you’re a non-diver or a diver with less than 20 dives
This is barebone minimum durations; You’ll be glad if you can spend more time in your training! The more time you invest, the more you get back obviously.
Divemaster courses are only conducted in very small groups, so you get the professional and personal attention you need to develop as a professional diver. As such, courses start on specific dates and to join you should have the relevant number of dives and qualifications required to start. If you need to do any other dive courses prior to your divemaster course, factor this in, so that you will be ready (rescue diver with 40 dives) to start the divemaster course. You should arrive at least 4 weeks prior to the start date of the divemaster part of the program if you have less than twenty logged dives already. You should arrive at least 2 weeks prior if you have between 20-40 dives.
Kindly note, that the starts dates are for all candidates. Even if you have already done the prerequisite courses and have enough dives, the professional course only starts every four weeks. You are however very welcome to arrive before that and get involved in the conservation work.
Once your divemaster training is complete, you’ll start taking a very active part in the research and conservation efforts going on at expedition camp. All those long weeks of training start coming into use! You’re been trained to be a valuable colleague to the scientific and instructional staff at base, and you now have a chance to make an actual difference! The longer you stay, the more you can help with the important work going on. For divemaster candidates who can dedicate more time, discount rates are available, as well as the option of doing free technical deep dive training (provided firstly that you want to, secondly that you have the skills, mindset and maturity and accept the higher risks.) The deep training is entirely optional, and is only discussed at base, once you have the foundation to make an informed decision - but the discount rates are applicable no matter what.
4th Month - Free TEC 40 Course
5th Month - Free TEC 45 Course
6th Month - Free TEC 50 Course. Trimix courses available too, but you must pay for gasses.
No. There’s no denying that being a divemaster looks good on your resume and shows leadership qualifications, but if you’re not happy with the idea of taking charge, leading divers underwater, giving briefings to a bunch of people or maybe even having to try to save someone if an accident occurs, then it’s not for you. Of course you will not be very proficient at those skills initially - no-one is. You may never have addressed a crowd before you start the divemaster course, you may be used to others taking charge. That’s all alright, but you have to be ready to take the reigns yourself. You don’t have to be good at these things to start, but it’s important to keep in mind that the end goal of the course is to make you reasonably confident with all of these tasks.
Minimum age to participate in this program is 18 years. Travel insurance and PADI Open Water certificate are compulsory.
We ask volunteers to remember that the support of the local community is of absolute importance to our environmental efforts. We are the guests and must behave accordingly. With enthusiasm, a willingness to learn new things and consideration for people and culture you’ll come a long way. Upon arrival at the expedition base, you will be briefed on local culture and customs.
As a participant in the Marine Conservation Program, it's your responsibility to read the two liability documents BEFORE departure, as you will be required to agree with and sign them when you arrive at the base in the Philippines. If you do not agree with or sign the forms then you cannot participate.
Before you come you must read and fill out the PADI medical form. No matter how you answer the questions, even if you answer no to all stated conditions, you must get clearance from a doctor before you can take part in the divemaster program. To ensure you can participate, we ask you to do this prior to departure, and to bring the filled out and signed PADI medical form with you.
Volunteers need to be flexible and keep an open mind concerning their placements as situations can arise beyond our control which could require you to be placed at a different project than the one you have initially chosen. We will of course always do our utmost to fulfill your initial wishes but do remember that where you are going is quite different from where you are coming and as such one should be prepared for things not always going according to plan.
Volunteering and intercultural travel share a common trait: the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. This program is designed for proactive individuals and groups that are prepared to adapt to the local environment and its current needs. Naturally, the scheduling and activities of our program are subject to change. Alterations in activities are mainly due to changes in local conditions, which we believe is part of what makes overseas programs the interesting adventure and incredible learning experience that they are.
Our projects range from 1 week up to approx. 30 weeks. Projects have a specified minimum stay, then it’s up to you how long you can commit. In our experience the longer you stay the more you will gain, as your understanding of the project broadens and you take on more responsibilities. Every volunteer will be given a certificate of appreciation at the end of their stay as a symbol of volunteering stay.