Week four of the annual Volusia County junior lifeguard camp wrapped up with a day of competition.
Week four of the Volusia County junior lifeguard program came to a close at the Andy Romano Beachfront Park on Friday, July 2 with a friendly competition between participants.
On Fridays, the campers have a chance to showcase what they have learned throughout the week by participating in three different physically challenging events: beach flags, run-swim-run and the iron guard. Preferences amongst the kids were divided between beach flags and the iron guard with a few who touted the jet ski day, an activity they had done earlier in the week. The iron guard is one of the most strenuous of the three because participants must run a race on the beach, swim out into the ocean and back, grab a surfboard, paddle out around a stationed lifeguard then return to shore.
Boden Beck, 10, won her age group’s iron guard and run-swim-run events.
“I think this is really fun,” she said. “I mostly like the socializing part with my friends, competition day and eating lunch.”
The camp was organized according to age: A group 13-15 year-olds, B group 11-12 year-olds and C group 9-10 year-olds. Lifeguard instructor Allie Lydecker was C group’s leader. Lydecker recently graduated from High Point University with a bachelor’s degree and is pursuing a master’s degree in tourism and hospitality along with a graduate certificate in sport event management. On her free days, she works as a lifeguard.
“It gets chaotic but this is so much fun,” Lydecker said. “How can I pass up essentially 40 hours a week of being a glorified camper.”
Tryouts for the 31st annual junior lifeguard program were held at Deltona, DeLand, Edgewater, Port Orange and Ormond Beach YMCAs on Saturdays, May 8 through June 12. Per the Volusia County website, swimming skills are a requirement and participants must be able to swim 100 yards in two minutes and 15 seconds or less, tread water for five minutes and swim underwater for 10 feet. Those that meet these prerequisites are selected to attend the camps offered in Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach. Prior attendees do not need to tryout.
There are six weeks of camps offered at the various beaches with an advanced camp held the seventh week. To be considered for the advanced camp, interested individuals must have participated in three junior camps previously.
“They patterned our program after the California junior program,” beach safety officer and program coordinator Jonathan Merwin said. “It’s just me and the instructors. Looks like a six-ring circus happening simultaneously but it is really well organized.”
Each camp features learning rigorous skillsets necessary to become a lifeguard and an extensive educational component. Camp participants are taught the importance of maintaining their own personal health as well as being trained to help others. They are given the tools necessary to administer CPR and first-aid along with basic lifeguard rescue techniques. Camp instructors also teach the kids about oceanography, marine biology and the impact current environmental issues have on the ocean.
Lifeguard instructor Rina Christensen has been involved with the Volusia County program for three years and is in her sixth year working on the beach in ocean rescue. She enjoys working with the older kids in A group.
“This program teaches them more about responsibility outside themselves,” Christensen said. “We are teaching them about safety and ocean awareness for not just themselves but people that are visiting the beach.”