After being formed in 1989 by David Bress, Lambda Divers enjoyed a long period of success promoting recreational scuba diving to the LGBT community in the D.C. area.
Over the years, their participation at the international Diving for Life event has raised more than $200,000 for local LGBT charities with a focus on HIV/AIDS prevention.
That all ended in 2014 when everyone involved in the organization found themselves at a crossroads in terms of their interests and direction.
Toward the end of last year, they reconvened and conducted a survey as to what the members wanted to accomplish going forward. They found there was enough interest to relaunch the group.
In January of this year, a new board was formed and the divers rejoined Team D.C. Their first focus was to kick-off a membership drive with their first two big pushes at Team D.C. SportsFest and Capital Pride. The Pride Festival resulted in 68 new email addresses from interested parties.
Their next course of action was to partner with Blue Planet Scuba to launch their Discover Scuba Splash Party at Gallaudet University followed by a happy hour at H Street Country Club.
“We had instructors working poolside to introduce people to the experience of scuba diving,” says Vice President Ross Yerger. “It’s important to show them what they need to be comfortable under the water.”
The group is planning more Discover Scuba events and happy hours to continue the push for new members. They were expecting to sponsor their first dive in 2017 but that changed when they were approached by David Bress, one of the original founders of Lambda Divers.
“David has completed 998 dives,” Yerger says, “and he wanted Diving for Life to be his 1,000th dive.”
In the diving community, multiple clubs sponsor the same trip to obtain group rates and defray costs. The local divers have attached themselves to two international events coming up later this year.
Yerger, who works as a federal agent in D.C., received his diving certification right after graduating from Penn State University. After several years of not diving, he rediscovered his love for scuba diving on a trip to Puerto Rico. He met the Lambda Divers through a friend in 2009 and is looking forward to the future of the club.
“The happy hours we are going to host in between the diving trips helps to keep people engaged,” Yerger says. “We are going to target quieter settings for the get-togethers so people have a better chance to talk and share photos from prior trips.”
They have trips planned to Bonaire (Sept. 10-17), Lake Phoenix (Aug. 19-21), the Phillipines (Nov. 5-12) and to Cozumel, Mexico in 2017.