Idaho is not at the top of the list for dive destinations, yet Neptune Warrior and Boise Scuba Center in Meridian, Idaho, are bringing divers out every week to participate in their Ultimate Diving Challenge and theme-based dives.
The Neptune Warrior project was founded about two years ago by Rob Anderson (NAUI 31192). With the primary purpose of “Healing Heroes One Dive at a Time,” Neptune Warrior works with veterans, police and first responders to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, provide support and promote community through diving.
“One week, it might be an obstacle course with skills including a mask-off swim while your buddy guides you. The next week, you hit five numbered golf balls into the pond while a buddy marks their splash spot with a compass, then the team goes to find them. Another week, you are racing others in a shared-air obstacle course,” said Anderson. “I hate the words ‘Fun Dive.’ Every dive should be fun. Who wants to sign up for the ‘No-Fun Dive?'”
Last year, Charlie Sterling, owner of NAUI affiliate Boise Scuba Center, asked the Neptune Warrior team to run his dive club’s weekly dives, taking the dives out of the hands of the shop and turning them over to the group of dive fanatics. It has brought new energy to all local diving.
With NAUI Instructors and leaders on-site to teach or coach, participants have been introduced to or completed parts of certifications such as NAUI Advanced, Rescue or Master Scuba Diver. It has been a way to drive interest in new skills. The challenge dives have also given back to the community through NAUI Green Diver Initiative projects.
“It was time to revive the local dive scene,” said Anderson. “We have hundreds, maybe thousands, of divers in the community, and I got tired of two or three showing up for a ‘fun dive.’ This thing is on the rise, and we’re seeing divers from other shops who are curious about what we’re doing.”
Anderson also uses the program to push his own NAUI Divemaster candidates. “[They] are required to come up with and help plan activities, set up and brief about the specific obstacle or challenge.”
While Idaho has a short dive season, Neptune Warrior extends diving in both open water and confined water. Anderson brings on sponsors such as Black Rock Coffee Bar for on-site warm drinks and Café Zupas for hot soup. In deep winter, diving goes inside. “We’ve had 15 divers come to our game night and indoor dive challenge nights. Sure, we can bring out divers when it’s near freezing outside to win prizes from our local sponsors, but I really do like the indoor diving nights when we have snow piled up.”
Anderson is fanatical about local diving. Neptune Warrior is “reinventing the way we dive, the way we view diving, and how we appeal to the dive community. It’s time to re-create the way we approach diving … There is no way we could do this without the support of Boise Scuba Center. We are supporting their shop. Charlie has been awesome on letting the fanatics run his weekly dives.”