Beach patrol

Instructor Charlotte Blacketer speaks to a few of the junior guards participating in the annual Galveston Island Beach Patrol’s Junior Lifeguard Program.

A group of children stand in a row in front of their rescue boards along the shoreline wearing yellow tank jerseys and carrying their rescue tubes in one hand. Some of them are vibrating slightly as they get ready to go into action. They then grab their boards and stand on the line.

The instructor yells for them to start, and they spring for the water. As they get into shallows they bunny hop and then a few hop on their knees and power through the inside break while the rest drop to their bellies. Sports day for the junior guards!

The Beach Patrol Junior Lifeguard Day Camp is well structured and economically priced. We offer a number of scholarships as well. We started it in the late 80s to be a feeder program for lifeguards.

Participants undergo one and a half hours of classroom instruction in each four-hour day, studying topics as diverse as beach lifeguard principles, first aid, CPR, marine biology and ecology, and sports fitness topics.

Junior guards are exposed to a wide range of activities. They learn about the lifeguards’ workday by assisting real lifeguards as they perform their regular duties. They play games that are relevant to the lecture and classroom topics, and they participate in several educational field trips.

Our objectives are to show the participants the values of mental and physical discipline and to teach them to respect themselves, others, authority and the natural environment. Our primary purpose is to provide a fun, safe place for youth to grow and learn about themselves, and the diverse environments of the Texas Gulf Coast. Our hope is that many of them will become the lifeguards of the future.

The Junior Lifeguard Program starts in June and continues for six weeks. Sessions are held three times a week with Fridays as an optional sports training day. “Sports day” will offer more intensive physical training and Lifeguard Sport competition practice. Most of our full-time staff, and about 40 percent of our total staff, were junior guards.

Today at Stewart Beach is the final day of the program. The guards have “Beachfest” from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. They’ll have friendly competitions, food, awards, and time to socialize and share memories with all their beach friends, parents, supporters and the lifeguard staff.

You are welcome to come hang out and see what these amazing guards of the future can do!

Peter Davis is chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. The views in this column are Davis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Park Board of Trustees or any other entity.

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