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All about scuba dives and mountain bikes

Get Out There
Photo submitted

Jennifer Keays clearly enjoys her scuba dive instructor course at Capilano University.

I feel very privileged to teach communications to the professional scuba dive instructor certificate and mountain bike operations certificate students at Capilano University.

Seeing their prose come alive when they write about their passions is truly an invaluable experience. In this month’s column, two of the students share their experiences.

I hope you enjoy them.


We all know Capilano University on the Sunshine Coast, but do we know what the overly energized students who are taking the university programs actually do when they are going to school?

As part of the tourism and outdoor recreation program, Capilano University offers one of the most amazing post-secondary courses any ocean lover and adrenaline seeking young adult would want — the professional scuba dive instructor certificate.

This program groups 15 students from all over the world. Motivation, ambition, creativity and energy, that’s what you find on a daily basis in the classrooms of Cap U.

Being a scuba dive instructor student at Cap U means that you usually spend more time wet than dry, usually move and function better underwater than on land, and people usually see you as a mermaid in training. How awesome is this!

Swimming along a giant Pacific Octopus, being able to identify all sea star, fish, anemones and all other type of marine life you see along your dive, is a typical day for us scuba students.

Not only do we excel at mastering our underwater techniques, we also take tourism management and outdoor adventure classes. These classes teach us, upcoming industry professionals, what we need to know about the tourism industry, marine biology and communications at work. These classes are university credited and those credits are transferable to any tourism program offered at Cap U.

Whether you are on your way to work for the rest of your life as a mermaid in the tropical waters, or build the most breath taking mountain bike trails, no one could ever think of, or want to have more hands on knowledge about your tourism management degree.

‘Going to school’ has never been this inspiring, fun and more educational.

— Jennifer Keays


“Look Ma, no hands!”

That was the first trick I attempted on my bike and it quickly taught me a lesson in return — never wave with both hands while riding.

I graduated from the clinic with four glorious stitches on my right palm that day. The year was 1986. I was 10.

I’ve learned a lot from biking since. I’ve learned that when bicycle meets tree, tree always wins. I’ve also learned that, like a dog, if you don’t chain your bike up, it will run away as mine did — twice.

Over time, I’ve picked up so much from my two-wheeled tutor. These are three of the most valuable lessons on living that mountain biking has taught me:

Always look at where you want to go. And never at the things you want to avoid. Ever hit an obstacle because you were trying to avoid it? Thinking about where you don’t want to go doesn't help in life either. It's the counter-productive opposite because you will become whatever you focus on. So look far. And trust me, you’ll go further than you think.
Hold your line. I once got intimidated by a rider bearing down on my tail, gave up my line and crashed. "Always hold your line. Let others find a way around you," said a seasoned rider who came to my aid. His wise words really helped me. I went from worrying about whether I was riding as fast as I was 'supposed' to, to advancing at my own pace. Like riding, I wouldn't want to live my life any other way. Once I've chosen my path, I wouldn't ever want to let anyone derail me of my goal. Because after all — it’s my ride — and it’s your ride.

Two people can ride the same trail and take completely different experiences from it. I realized that it really doesn't matter what other people say a trail is or isn't. It is what it is to me. And this is the greatest lesson mountain biking has taught me. It's my journey and I'll choose when to feel challenged and when to break into a smile because it's my experience, my ride.

Just like life. 

— Joseph Cheong

For more information about these programs please go to

Editor’s note: Lydia Watson is the convenor of the mountain bike operations program at Capilano Univeristy. She also handles marketing and community education at Off the Edge Adventure Sports. Her column appears once a month in Coast Reporter.



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