November 23, 2018

This year has been one of the most exciting so far. Between school, sports, and music, I’ve been extremely busy. Looking back on this year as it comes to a close, I’ve had some important life-changing experiences. One of the biggest was my A Rising Tide experience. Only a year ago, I hardly knew anything about scuba. I’d always wanted to explore it, but because of the cost and the fact that there aren’t any oceans nearby, it made that dream seem pretty unlikely. I’d also been looking for some kind of big project that I could reflect on as a highlight of high school. Diving!Around this time last year, I had just gotten back from a trip to San Diego to visit some family and was getting the ocean blues. Something about the ocean always inspires me and I was sad to say goodbye. As soon as we returned home, I wanted to go back to the ocean, but my family wasn’t exactly planning any trips back out soon.

I kept my eyes open for opportunities. I wore a trendy t-shirt that I had bought in California, which had an ocean conservation message on it. One day, a friend of mine noticed it and told me about a scholarship she was applying for. I looked into it and it seemed too good to be true. I researched it further and it turned out to be completely true. Ocean First was giving away full and partial scholarships to The Florida Keys, which also happened to include free airplane ticket, hotel, a documented web series about our trip, and an entire set of scuba gear! That wasn’t all; we would be getting a marine bio course and free scuba lessons, and best of all, a scuba certification.

I had about forty-eight hours to record a video, edit and submit it, which wasn’t a whole lot of time. I decided to go for it. I was so excited and the possibility seemed so big. I anxiously waited for a reply to my video submission. I giddily opened the email and scanned through it. The next moment I was running through the house jumping up and down and yelling and probably scared my poor little brother. I had won! Not just the partial, but the full ride! I was going to get scuba certified!

On the boat

Over the next several months, we met the team, got our gear, trained, and even got to dive in a shark cage at the Denver Aquarium. It’s amazing how much we learned in such a short time. We had started, not even knowing what a Buoyancy Control Device was, but by the time we were done, we could assemble all our dive gear with our eyes closed. One of the best parts was how much everyone cared. Our dive instructor, our team leader, our photographer, the company owner; everyone was so nice to us and really just wanted to bless us.

It was one of the best experiences of my life so far!

Our crazy adventure finally culminated in our open water trip to the Florida Keys. Over that time, I learned a lot about marine biology, scuba, and how to work together with a team of divers. We learned how important it is to keep the ocean clean and gained a new appreciation for it. Most importantly, I learned to not give up on dreams. Dreams are only crazy until you accomplish them. One little decision began an amazing adventure. If I had just written it off as impossible, I never would have had that incredible experience. It only takes one small action at a time to Go Big.

Season 2 of A Rising Tide is now accepting applications. Don't miss your opportunity.

Joshua Johnston, A Rising Tide Scholar, Season 1

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