The CDG apply a common sense instead of a dogmatic adherence to a set of rules that may not be appropriate in all situations.
The CDG has to prepare its trainees for solo cave diving, in conditions that are often less than ideal. For this reason the Group promotes a cave diver education that encourages a thinking approach to diving.
Most other diving organisations train customers using a drill based model; the student is taught the correct drill for each situation. This works well in team diving where all the members can support each other and limits are placed on the type of dives that can be done with for each level of qualification. As the level of qualification increases, along with experience, a thinking approach is developed.
CDG cave diver education aims to start developing the thinking approach right from the start. Instead of teaching drills the Mentor helps the Trainee to understand problem solving options and under what conditions they could be applied. Diving skills are developed in parallel. Developing the thinking approach is as important as developing a Trainee’s underwater skills.
New members to the CDG will find that it has a unique character and method of working, which is due to the structure and history of the Group, the oldest amateur diving organisation in the world. People from a caving background will find that it differs from a caving club in its more structured approach to training and qualification. Those who are more accustomed to the recreational diving environment will find the group requires more from them during training, over a longer period than they are used to giving.
Each new Trainee comes to the CDG with an existing level of skill and experience, both in caving and diving. Something that is best practice for one Trainee may not be for another. For this reason, the CDG allow a common sense approach to be applied instead of a dogmatic adherence to a set of rules that may not be appropriate in all situations.
The CDG expects an element of independence from its Trainees. That said, it is normal for their Mentor and other Qualified Divers to cave and dive with the Trainee regularly throughout their progression to Qualified status which is continuously evaluated by their Mentor(s), reviewed at Section meetings and formally recorded through the following broad phases:
- The open water phase when a Trainee hones their kit configuration, practices basic diving techniques and masters the elementary principles of line management.
- The overhead phase when the Trainee is introduced to the overhead environment in a controlled and progressive manner.
- The exploration phase when the Trainee undertakes increasingly complex dives and practices more advanced skills such as surveying, underwater digging and extended range techniques.