Ocean City Today
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OCBP to offer Junior Beach Patrol Academy this summer

By Kara Hallissey | Jul 06, 2017

(July 7, 2017) The Ocean City Beach Patrol begins another summer of Junior Beach Patrol Academy this Tuesday, where children gain awareness and experience with educational training in the surf during the four-day hands-on program.

“It’s great for kids who want to be outside and like being in the ocean,” said Ocean City Beach Patrol Lt. Ward Kovacs, director of the academy. “It also boosts your confidence in the ocean. The academy generally attracts children who like being outdoors and are athletic.”

The academy has prepared a number of lifeguards, known as Surf Rescue Technicians, and five current crew chiefs, which is about 25 percent. At least 10 of the rookie lifeguards participated in the Junior Beach Patrol Academy and will sit in the stands protecting Ocean City’s beach this summer, he said.

“We originally started the academy to teach beach safety and as a recruiting tool,” Kovacs said. “I don’t think any of us expected it to be at the level of recruiting it is now.”

This summer, more than 200 youth ages 10-17 will participate in the academy during a six-week period. The program is designed for various skill levels, that way returning campers can continue their surf rescue education every summer.

Depending on their age, participants can complete a one-week session or choose to finish multiple levels all in one summer. In any given session, half of participants are residents and the others come from all over the United States and Canada.

First-year Junior Beach Patrol Academy participants learn about rescue buoys, safety information and a little bit about semaphore flag communication whereas second-year returnees study landline rescues and third-year students gain experience with paddleboards, Kovacs said.

“Around 10 years old is when kids want to go to the beach with their friends’ families,” he said. “Completing Junior Beach Patrol Academy can be a trade-off [to go on these trips] if they can demonstrate to their parents they can [navigate themselves safely in the water.] It benefits the parents too. We wear them out and they go to sleep early. That’s when we know we did our jobs.”

The fourth year is the crew chief level where students are in a leadership position and responsible for taking charge of a team, he said.

After completing these levels, participants can apply for a paid position as an assistant instructor and some eventually go on to join the Ocean City Beach Patrol at 17 years old.

“People work with us a few years and then move on to be police officers, firefighters, paramedics, [members of the] Coast Guard or join the bomb squad,” Kovacs said. “These kids eventually go into these jobs and we give them exposure to water safety early in their lives.”

There are competitions through an obstacle course with relays that include running, swimming and paddleboarding in addition to a graduation ceremony on Fridays.

The Junior Beach Patrol program started in 1992 to help cover its three-part mission of education, prevention and intervention, he said.

Several afternoon camps will take place to accommodate more participants and there will be half a dozen one-day sessions on Thursday afternoons this year.

“One-day sessions are for kids in town that can’t register for four days or are hesitant,” Kovacs said. “They can see if they like the one-day before signing up for the four-day session.”

The Junior Beach Patrol Academy is a four-day program and runs from 8-11:30 a.m. every Tuesday through Friday, July 11 through Aug. 18. The six Thursday sessions take place from 1-5 p.m. each week. Children ages 10-17 must know how to swim to participate.

“People love the afternoons,” Kovacs said. “The afternoon sessions are popular and we had so many people on the waiting list that we added more a couple years ago.”

To sign up for the weekly camp or a Thursday session, visit www.oceancitymd.gov/oc/departments/recreation-parks/camps/jr-beach-patrol or call Ocean City Recreation and Parks at 410-250-0125.

The Junior Beach Patrol Program costs $108 for Ocean City residents and $130 for non-residents with Thursday’s sessions costing $30 and $35.

“It is a way to keep our guards involved and a great summer job,” Kovacs said. “Kids are running around with the lifeguards all day and they gain skills. The ratio of instructors to participants is really good for safety and it’s been successful. There is a lot of one-on-one time with instructors.”

 

Junior Beach Patrol Academy

 

Morning Academy

Tuesday through Friday

8-11:30 a.m.

Section A: July 11–14

Section B: July 18–21

Section C: July 25–28

Section D: Aug. 1–4

Section E: Aug. 8–11

Section F: Aug. 15–18

 

Afternoon Academy

Tuesday through Friday

1-4:30 p.m.

Section A: July 25–28

Section B: Aug. 1–4

 

One-Day Sessions

Thursdays, 1-5 p.m.

Section S: July 13

Section T: July 20

Section U: July 27

Section V: Aug. 3

Section W: Aug. 10

Section X: Aug. 17

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