VENTNOR – The Beach Patrol put 220 future lifeguards through a week-long training camp that allowed them to have fun and experience what it’s like to be a real lifesaver on the beach.
The Junior Lifeguard program was held on the beach in front of Beach Patrol Headquarters on Suffolk Avenue Monday through Friday, July 8-12. There were 220 children ages 5-13 participating in age-group activities, including stretches, warm-ups, surf dash and beach flags. Each activity simulated real lifeguard skills.
Approximately 15 rookie lifeguards assisted with the activities each day, such as throwing a tennis ball into the ocean and having the children retrieve it.
“This is the biggest group we’ve ever had, up from 170 last year,” Lt. Megan Holland, who organized the camp. “We try to link the events to the skills needed to be a lifeguard, such as always keeping an eye on the victim and be ready to run and swim for a rescue.”
Participants also learned everything there is to know about surf boats and tried their hand at rowing while the boat was still on the beach.
“We couldn’t take them out into the water because there were just too many kids,” Holland said.
New this year was an obstacle course that was both fun and challenging. Children had to climb over a lifeguard stand, jump onto the beach, run in and out of a line of paddles standing upright in the sand, step through rings and crawl under a lifeboat.
The junior lifeguards participated in another fun event – sandcastle building, just like the pros.
Professional sand sculptor Matt Diebert provided instruction on how to build a sandcastle or carve a sand sculpture using buckets of sand mixed with water.
“You need lots of water,” he said, showing the participants how to carve the head of a dolphin using his hands.
Parents donated burgers and all the fixings for the hungry athletes following the competitions held Friday morning.
Medals were awarded to first, second and third place boy and girl winners in each age group. All participants received a Junior Lifeguard T-shirt they will no doubt treasure until they get the real thing.