Margo Peyton, a Cape Cod native who has made Columbia her home for the past 16 years, was introduced to diving by her father, Edward Salvador, an accomplished diver. When Margo was 6 years old, Edward would place her in a tidal pool, with a tank and weight belts, and let her breathe from the regulator, his big paddle fins dangling from her tiny feet.
In 1989, at the age of 25 and fully certified, Margo started diving with Barry Clifford and John Beyer, the underwater sea explorers who found the real-life Whydah Gally off the coast of Cape Cod. What Margo found was a life-time passion that blossomed into international recognition and a successful business, touching the lives of thousands of diving enthusiasts.
After a couple of years working and living on Grand Cayman Island, Margo moved to Florida with her husband, Tom, and two small children, Robbie and Jennifer. Employed as a travel consultant for a scuba diving company, she quickly became frustrated with the amount of time she was away from her children and the lack of scuba diving activities available for children.
“I missed my kids,” says Margo. “I was putting them in summer camps, and they kept asking, ‘Why can’t we be with you, why can’t we go with you?’”
In the year 2000, when Robbie and Jennifer were 6 and 4 years of age, Margo launched Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures, starting with a SASY course — supplied air snorkeling for youth — so that her children could accompany her to work. As they grew, more programs were added, and today Margo’s company offers diving courses for all levels of experience and ages, as well as 15 college accredited programs through the Professional Association of Diving Instructors and family-oriented scuba vacations to 13 different countries.
When Tom became an editor for The State newspaper in 2005, the family, and Kids Sea Camp, all moved to Columbia. In 2012, Margo founded Ocean Wishes Foundation, giving underprivileged and special needs children access to PADI training programs.
“I teach high functioning autistic children, deaf children, and handicapped adults and kids,” she says. “When they are diving, everybody smiles.”
All of this hard work did not go unnoticed. In 2009, Margo was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame, becoming their youngest member ever inaugurated. And, in November of 2018, she became one of only four women ever inducted into the International Diving Equipment and Marketing Association Hall of Fame, where she is also the youngest member. This past April, PADI recognized Margo and Tom Peyton’s accomplishments and notable influence on the scuba industry, awarding them a Lifetime Achievement Award — only the second one ever given. These recognitions stem from her deep commitment to safety, education, and conservation.
“I have more than 7,700 youth dive certificates and zero dive accidents,” says Margo. “Diving is an extreme sport, and we are all about safety.”
Today the entire family — Margo, Tom, Robbie, and Jennifer — are diving instructors intricately involved with the family business, dedicated to giving others the chance to disconnect and unplug from their virtual worlds while reconnecting with each other.
“That is my goal every day,” says Margo. “My two children were my greatest drive, and now they are my greatest teachers and the reason for my success. I’m just doing what I really always wanted to be doing.”