About Skydivers & Mentors (S&M)
Skydivers & Mentors (S&M), founded by Jim Shorter in 1998, is not a club, clique, or elite group. We are a virtual network of skydivers who share a common thread of values. We value safe skydiving fostered by sharing and passing down experience to new skydivers from those of us who have learned the sport, more often than not, the hard way. We value the free exchange of skydiving knowledge and experience. Our goal is to make safe skydivers out of new skydivers through this kind of sharing and mentoring. We welcome anyone who is willing to adopt these values, share their skydiving experiences and thoughts in an open forum, and have a good, safe time in the air. The SkyGod mentality has no place here.
We formed Skydivers & Mentors because we saw how hard it was for jumpers just off student status to figure out the sport of skydiving. Even after learning how to jump out of an aircraft at a high altitude, there was still an overwhelming amount to learn, to practice, and even to buy, before a student could jump safely and comfortably with other jumpers. The more experienced skydivers tend to avoid the new jumpers because of their low experience, or they sometimes bring the new divers into jumps for which they aren't ready. New skydivers tend to jump with each other, but they don't have the experience to effectively coach each other, so they pick up bad flying habits that they later have to unlearn. Or, worse, their inexperience gets them into situations they aren't prepared to deal with. Overall, a hazardous situation for everyone.
We believe that the average fun jumper is already financially drained by the time they come off of student status. And while higher levels of instruction by a well-trained coach is probably a worth-while investment, by the time the new skydiver has purchased gear, after what was just spent on learning to skydive, there isn't much left even for solo jumps. If skydiving becomes any more of a capital-intensive sport than it already is, we are concerned that the cost will discourage potential jumpers. We are also concerned that expensive skydiving will encourage unsafe skydiving practices as people try to save costs on their skydiving.
We, ourselves, remember just coming off student status and the bewildered state we were in, not to mention the depleted state of our bank accounts. We remember how hard it was to pick up the nuggets of insight from the more experienced skydivers on their way to the big loads. One of our members put it very well when he said, "You come off of student status holding an empty bag of "Experience" and a full bag of "Luck". Your goal as a skydiver then becomes to fill up the bag of "Experience" before the bag of "Luck" runs out."
So, what is the answer?
We believe the answer is skydivers mentoring skydivers. We believe that sharing experience and opinions among skydivers will give everyone, especially the new skydivers, the knowledge and insight to improve their skills, select gear, consider training, and grow as skydivers. We want to help the new skydivers fill up that bag labeled "Experience" as quickly as possible. In the process, we all develop as skydivers, we all get better at the sport, and there are many more great skydivers around to make those hot skydives with.The USPA is encouraging mentoring programs, especially with the new Integrated Student Program (ISP). S&M has been mentoring long before the ISP program was Adopted, and we do it for FREE for members.
So, what are you waiting for, c'mon, join us, and let's jump together some time!