A Passion Can Spring From Anywhere, or “WOAH, Look at THAT!”

You never know what will spark your curiosity. For 12-year-old me, it was a trip to the Florida Keys with a group of middle schoolers and some teachers, where we studied marine sciences for two weeks. I was a returning student for the next two years, being one of (if not the only) students who went all three years.

That simple summer trip led to more adventures. I became a PADI certified scuba diver a year before I was legally old enough to do so, again in the Florida Keys. I traveled to Maine for Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island (beware, that tiny island is the mating ground for every seagull in the eastern half of the United States) and received college credit for the biology course I completed. I left the country to study marine ecosystems in the Bahamas (I know, such a sacrifice of my time) through Cornell University. For pleasure, I went to SeaCamp in Florida, and with my family to Hawaii. With my experience and combined diving hours, I was a level or two away from being a Master Diver. At 18 years old.

I am now 23, and while college interrupted my annual trips, to this day I have a passion for the ocean and scuba diving.

The point of all this information (aside from showing off my aquatic chops) is to illuminate the importance of trying new things and encouraging exploration. How much would I have missed out on had I decided to hang out around Hinsdale, IL during the summer of my 6th grade year? I’ve seen so much of the world, and have a better idea of how much there is left to see. I’ve touched sharks, watched Spotted Eagle Rays glide through the reefs, and bumped noses with a sea turtle at 70ft below the surface on a night dive under a full moon. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.

When I have kids, I want to make sure they have something to seize their curiosity, like I had. I know it sounds cliché, but I want to give them every opportunity to learn and experience what’s around them. Learning doesn’t just mean a classroom and books, chalkboards and homework. Keep in mind that learning is everything that the kid takes in, what he sees, hears, tastes, touches and smells.

I know that some people would think that 12 is pretty young to send your son off to another state for that kind of immersion, but please listen to me when I say it’s one of the best ages to do it. We’re young, eager, and ready for something new before it’s accepted that there IS nothing new, that life is just a series of days after other days with slight variations. Believe it or not, there does come a time when something new and exciting isn’t as new or exciting as it could have been, especially with the advance of technology and a near-constant stream of digital information.

So schedule the time, save the money, take your kid to Disney World before he learns about the mechanics behind the rides, to Sea World before he learns about the Gulf Spill, and to the Space Museums before he learns we’ve never been back to the moon. Who knows, you may spark something in your kid that WILL take him to the moon someday. Or, in my case, to the bottom of the ocean and face to face to face to face with thousands of fish at the edge of our known world. Trust me, it rocks.

4 Responses to “A Passion Can Spring From Anywhere, or “WOAH, Look at THAT!””
  1. Lizard says:


    I am so glad you had such a passion and such amazing parents for encouraging you pursue your passions. Without them, I would never met such an awesome individual.

    And I know how much you loved living with the gulls who frequently decided that you made a great toilet. 🙂

    I hope the future little Kennys have as much drive and passion as you do….


  2. That is one thing I failed to mention, which I want to rectify: THANK YOU MOM AND DAD for encouraging me and giving me those opportunities. Mom was a great partner to have along on many of my dives (she is also a certified diver!) and Dad held down the fort at the spas and hotels for us 🙂

    Liz: I made a great friend as well, all the more reason to branch out and try new things!

  3. Karen says:

    What a wonderful testament to growth and maturity. I love how you are able to put feelings, emotions into words we can all relate to. Life is all about making memories, finding interest that can lead to a passion that leads to healthy growth. I could not be prouder of the man you are, or love you more. Keep writing, it is something you do so well!

  4. Bob M. says:

    This one ranks up there among your best. The ones born of your own experience alway are. Keep writing. It’s a gift.

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