Article By John Tapley and Photos By Gary Lehman
One of the most prominent scuba diving facilities in the northeast is Dutch Springs: an outdoor recreation facility located in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, which offers a variety of scuba diving and water activities. Summertime is especially busy in the area, and as the dive season heads in to full swing, Dutch Springs will engage divers both new and veteran with its second annual Dive Expo, slated for Saturday, June 9.
Opening at 8 am, the Dutch Springs Dive Expo is an opportunity for scuba explorers to learn important details on scuba diving, and become comfortable with their equipment and each other before the busy dive season. Throughout the day, visitors will be able to meet with manufacturer representatives, take part in seminars, and mingle with their fellow aqua explorers.
Education is the keystone to this second annual dive extravaganza, as Dutch Springs operation manager Andrea Scott elaborates:
“At Dutch Springs we have a lot of recreational divers and instructors bringing students. We’ve seen a need in the diving community in general: once divers get certified, they need to know what is out there for them to meet other divers, keep diving and learning, and to learn about the equipment.
“One of the great things about our expo is that we’re able to have hands-on, in-water demos of any gear from participating manufacturers. You’ll be able to talk to industry leaders – to see new equipment and touch and feel it – in a booth setting like an expo, and most manufacturers will allow you to check out the gear in the lake.”
Through this hands-on approach, visitors will have the opportunity to learn and try out different gear configurations that suit them the best. Exhibiting manufacturers will share a broad array of scuba diving equipment and apparel, and will include leading companies in the dive industry such as Oceanic, KISS Rebreathers, Lavacore, Oceanic, Halcyon, Hollis, and many others.
“If you need a new regulator you’ll be able to understand the differences between them and will be able to dive with and see if you like it – if it’s configured nicely or if it feels comfortable to you,” says Scott. “When you rent gear, there’s only certain styles [a dive shop] might have, but at an expo, all the manufacturers will bring something to demo: all types and styles of scuba equipment to experience.”
In addition to these offerings, the Dutch Springs Dive Expo will also include in-booth seminars centered on photography, videography, and other pursuits that connect with the sport of scuba. Throughout the day, walking speakers will highlight these seminars for the audience at large. Visitors will also be able to take home door prizes donated by manufacturers.
As the sun sets on Saturday, June 9, expo organizers and attendees will meet for a dive safety speaker series – the first of a regular program held throughout the year – which offers opportunities to mingle and learn more about good scuba safety procedures. From 7:30 to 9:30, guests can also take part in an underwater lighting demonstration hosted by participating manufacturers.
Opened in 1980, Dutch Springs is a multi-purpose recreation area focused on scuba diving and water activities. Spanning 50 acres of water and 50 acres of land, Dutch Springs offers over 20 attractions tailor-made for scuba divers: to dive in, through, and experience. Each year, around 30,000 scuba divers – most from the northeast; some from all over the United States – visit the facility and dive in the pristine Pennsylvanian lake.
“When we started, we were just a scuba diving location: you would come if you were in a class or certified,” explains Scott. “We wanted to expand but didn’t have things for friends or family members of scuba divers, and the local community didn’t know a lot about us.”
Since the outdoor recreationalarea has focused on expanding its services to a wider audience, it has developed and installed a number of additional interests. Guests can swim, relax on the beach, and enjoy the Aqua Park: a facility, which hosts team building and experiential learning for youths, adults, and corporate groups – through activities such as rock climbing, ziplining, bungie trampoline, and many others.
As the second annual Dutch Springs Dive Expo reaches its conclusion, Scott hopes guests will return home with a greater sense of belonging in the dive community – whether in Pennsylvanian waters or a country away.
“It’s exciting to be a part of the dive community. We want divers to become friends with one another: to socialize and create a large community,” she says. “We sometimes think small – the divers you know are just from your club – but there’s a whole world of divers.”
“We want everyone to know how many certified people are out there: who want to go diving but don’t know who to buddy up with or where to go diving.” Scott continues. “We want to foster a large community where people can know each other and experience diving all over the world.”
The Dutch Springs Dive Expo is open to visitors at no additional cost beyond usual admission fees – day, season, or instructor passes. Guests may freely enter the event, but Scott recommends they register in advance to receive an early program syllabus, attendee name badges, and bonus raffle tickets. Prior to participation, guests must show proof of certification to help show organizers direct them to the right exhibitors for their level and interest.