"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." That age old adage is so true in so many aspects of life -- including your diving program.
I am the proud father of seven year old boy and girl twins and my kids are involved in numerous activities -- seems like I have become a taxi service!! With any new activity in which they become involved, I am always "checking the scene with my keen eye" when I take them for their first lesson or practice.
The first thing I do is check out the facility. Is it clean and well lit? Does the equipment look like it is maintained and in generally good condition? Is the practice location in a safe area? Are there many people there? Are there people there who look like they do not belong there? Do the other kids there look happy to be there? etc. etc.
Usually then I meet the coach or coaches. I definitely form an impression about them within the first couple of minutes. Are they polite and well-mannered? Are they enthusiastic? Do they seem excited to be there coaching or are they just doing it for the paycheck? Are they well-groomed and nicely dressed? Do they offer you a firm handshake and look you in the eye when they first meet or speak with you? Do they reek of cigarette smoke or smokeless tobacco products? Do they have numerous tattoos and body piercings on display? etc. etc. Call me old fashioned, but these things are important to me and, I would venture to say, important to most people -- especially those with young kids. Having a tattoo or a body piercing or smelling like a burnt cigarette does not make you a bad person -- BUT it does make a statement about you that many people do not want made around their kids. I know that I do not want my kids exposed to that "stuff" right now -- they will get plenty of that as they get older.
We are in that time of the diving season when many programs are just starting. Many new divers are coming in for their first practices and many proud parents (and grandparents) are coming to watch as well. Take a few moments to look over your facility to make sure it is presentable. While you are at it, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself -- "Would I want MY kids to dive with me?"