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Chris Donnelly - Platinum Course Director

Chris Donnelly - Platinum Course Director

It was 1990 and I was fidgeting in my grade school classroom on career day. If you know me at all, fidgeting keeps me occupied, I would much rather be out diving or adventuring than sitting at any desk.  Suddenly, the next career day presenter was a Scuba Center owner, and the next thing you know, my fidgeting stopped! I was mesmerized by the slide show of the shipwrecks off New Jersey and the Scuba gear and information Brownie presented to my classmates and I.  I had never taken a breath under water at this point, but I was hooked.   At the end of the presentation, I grabbed one of every sticker Brownie had to offer, the biggest, a bumper sticker said, Discover Diving!  For the next two years, I badgered my parents to not only let me get certified, but of course to pay for it too. 

In the fall of 1991, my freshman year of high school, I finally won the negotiations to learn how to dive.  Mom and Dad (mostly Dad as mom was worried) finally signed me up to dive at Brownies store in the greater Philadelphia suburbs.  For the following 10 Sundays I learned all things scuba, I got my first set of personal gear (Mask Fins Snorkel etc.) and every Sunday for the next 10 weeks I was dropped off at the dive center in the morning and picked up around 5.  My Grandmother wasn’t too happy I was missing Sunday mass. However, after I told her that Froggy, an elevator repair man and dive professional, drove me back and forth to the pool every Sunday played Sinatra on the car rides, suddenly it was ok to miss mass.  Sinatra was something special to my grandmother. 
When spring finally arrived and the local lake opened for diving, we scheduled to complete my checkout dives, so on a cold rainy weekend in April, my dad drove me up to Bethlehem and we got a hotel at the Radisson, which is still there to this day, and had a super weird Ferret convention going on that weekend.  Wild.  

4 scuba dives and 1 skin dive were required back then, the water was 38 degrees or so, I was 15, and froze my butt off.  It didn’t matter how cold it was; I loved every minute of being underwater that weekend.  Every dive I marched down the hill and back up the hill, my father standing at the top of the hill in the rain smoking his Marlboro lights sans filter wondering how I enjoyed this muddy location, freezing rain and bitter cold water. 

Fast forward 30+ years later, and I have been a dive professional in the Philadelphia area since 1997, and full time since 2001.  This is the only career I have ever had and have been fortunate to experience some world class adventures. Those adventures include becoming a PADI Course Director at a young age, diving all around the world including dozens of islands, up and down the east coast, the Andrea Doria, with many many places left on my travel list.  Big Critters are really what get me excited, someone once told me eventually I would "Grow Up" and start to be interested in the little things underwater, well I guess I haven't quite grown up as the big things, like sharks, whales, rays, dolphins and huge shipwrecks are still number 1 on my list. 

Currently my favorite diving activity is diving with my son, it is by far the best adventure I have had the privilege of participating in.  

Recently we purchased a dive boat we plan on diving in New Jersey with, it’s a little 6-pack, we plan on exploring the coast of Ocean City NJ and hope to see you out there with us.