Not many people realize the benefits of sending your children to surf camp, or a professional Jr. Lifeguard program. Not only do children get the chance to interact with other kids, they learn independence and social skills in many aspects. Here is all you the information you need to make an educated decision.
Junior lifeguard programs and surf camps are available along most coast lines around the world. Each organization has their own curriculum and can be physically demanding. The junior guard programs teach lifeguarding skills, first-aid, CPR, ocean safety, rescue techniques and other ocean related skills like surfing, snorkeling and kayaking. They also learn the importance of teamwork, and how to act responsibly in critical situations. They also will participate in water competitions. Participating in these programs can lead to potential jobs and help with college scholarships.
Surf Camps will help your children develop a love for nature, water, and the outdoors. They will learn to help others and develop attitudes that build character and leadership. The camps will teach them to be self-reliant, responsible and encourage new friendships.
Summer Surf Camps
Along with the YMCA there are several privately owned or owner managed surf camps. All campers will participate in a swim screen or swim test. Camp counselors need to see how comfortable each individual camper is in the water.
Surf camps are separated according to age levels. Make sure they also are separated by ability and skill levels. Camps start with campers as young as 6 – 7 & 8 year-olds.
Jr. Lifeguard Programs
Most junior lifeguard programs are set up for kids 7 through 17 years of age. They are taught by professional lifeguards. The camp counselors working with the junior lifeguard program are chosen based on their work history, lifeguarding experience and desire to work with kids. Students are taught in depth oceanography and wave education, along with a wide variety of beach safety skills. They will be taught first aid, CPR water rescue techniques, become proficient in their swimming skills including body surfing, boogie boarding, surfing, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking. They will compete in events with other junior lifeguard programs.
Note: Sign up deadlines are approaching for Summer Jr. lifeguard programs.
What Should Your Child Wear?
With Ocean temperatures ranging between 60 – 70 degrees in the summer, combined with windy mornings and afternoon fog, attention is needed when providing layers of protection for your camper. Protective layers start with sunscreen, we suggest Solrx, it stays on all day whether you are in or out of the water. As well, a Jr. lifeguard rashguard will keep your camper warm, even offering another level of sun protection.
Boardshort and Swim Suits
Don’t send your son in any type of swim wear other then boardshorts. Broadshorts are the official apparel for male lifeguards around the world. You can even add a pair of compressions shorts for protection against rashes from scratchy seams or sand deposits.
Jr. lifeguard Girls’ swim suits must be durable and tough enough to stay on through the waves. Straps on a girls’ swimsuit must be able stay on their shoulders. Different agencies have different rules on the choice between a one or two-piece rescue bikini.
Not all Surf Camps are Alike
When searching for a summer surf camp for your kids ask about their supervision ration and the training of each counselor. Camps should maintain no larger than a 2:10 ratio of staff to campers at all times however some camps supply a low of 3:1 surfer-to-instructor ratio ensuring more personalized service and a safer experience. Make sure campers are closely supervised in the water by both certified ocean lifeguards in towers and in the water. Ask about their policy on leaving children unsupervised, their bathroom policy and what happens when your child gets cold. Make sure weak swimmers will be kept in shallow water next to a surf instructor. Campers will be in the water every day for both surfing and body boarding. Body boards and surf boards should be supplied.
Summer Surf Camp Sessions
Each city, county or state will have various length sessions. Session can run for one week to five weeks. Some sessions run all day and some camp sessions run twice a day, either in the morning or in the afternoon.
What to Bring to Surf Camp or a Jr. Lifeguard Program?
Backpacks are great to store rashguards, surf hats, sweatshirts and swim fins. As well as towels, writing utensils, water bottles and snacks. Goggles are required for warm-ups and swim events throughout the day. Proper foot protection is suggested to protect your child from the hot sand. Always remember to label everything with your child’s name. Even when the lifeguards have a lost and found, kids don’t often thing to check for their stuff. That said, leave expensive items at home, the camp staff are watching your kids not their personal property. It is good to ask if wetsuits are required, as some programs necessitate them.
Note: Cell phones are not allowed during class time.
Surf Camp and Jr. Lifeguard Program Pricing
Pricing varies between summer surf camps and Junior lifeguard programs. The YMCA price is based on the needs of your family. Other private camps have individual set prices. Jr. lifeguard programs whether put on by the state, county or city have different pricing and rules. Some may even offer scholarships.
Surf Camp and Jr. Lifeguard Program Tryouts
Everyone must attend a tryout and pass the swimming requirements in order to be accepted into surf camp or a Jr. lifeguard program. Candidates may attend as many tryouts as needed in order to pass the swim test. Training is recommended before attending a tryout. Tryout requirements are different for each age level. Some tryouts are given on a first-come, first-serve basis so arrive early on test day.
Once your kid finishes Summer surf camp or completes a Jr. lifeguard training program, they leave with a solid foundation of water safety for life!