Summer Camp Swimming

As camp director of Swift Nature Camp and an American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor I know how important proper safety at the waterfront is. Learn about some of our water safety guidelines... 

Be on guard

Swimming areas are filled with distractions, lifeguards must always be aware. Kids could die if one lose his or her focus. Actively scan your area. All at the swimming area must realize that the waterfront is an area of grave danger.

Buddy pairs are very important

 “BUDDY CHECK” Swimming in buddy pairs adds a layer of redundancy to the active scanning that lifeguards perform on the dock or shore. Buddy pairs also give lifeguards something to look for the camper that is swimming alone.
Buddy separation is common and therefore becomes a good target for lifeguards who are actively scanning their area. Lifeguards who make sure buddies are together are making sure campers are safe while swimming.
“Where is your buddy?” is a great question that tells me the lifeguards are doing what needs to be done. This is often followed by the reminder for buddy pairs to swim within 8 feet of one another. THis provides verbal confirmation that the lifeguards are doing their job.

Staff must always swim in buddy pairs 

Staff set a good example for campers and help protect one another when they also buddy up during staff swims. No one at camp should ever swim alone, even briefly.
When I need to hop in the water at an odd time to fix Sally or Wally ( our swimming structures) , I always have a fellow staff member actively spotting me and acting as my buddy. Other staff should do the same.

Avoid so-called “triples” 

Triples are only allowed for a short period of time, until another shows up at the waterfront. If singleton swimmers show up for a swim, I find them another swimmer with whom they can buddy or they often buddy with a lifeguard.

Never swim at night 

As Director, I am at the waterfront for any early or late swims and I call time over when the sky is to dark to swim. Never should campers or staff swim between sunset and sunrise.

Never exceed ratios

 Programs vary, but I’m most comfortable with a ratio of 1 staff member to every 12 swimmers in the water. On particularly hot days, We train our own lifeguard’s so our staff is made of 80% Lifeguards so that ratio is never exceeded. This exceeds the state of Wisconsin’s codes. 

Use PFDs

 When an off-camp trip includes a water element, we follow this rule: “Above the knees requires PFDs.” Even when we are at an island near camp we wear PFD’s to ensure safety. 
PFD’S are always used when a child is in a watercraft. Every time and always no exceptions.
That means that dipping your feet in a cool mountain stream is fine, but as soon as there is any significant wading or swimming, every person is wearing a properly fitting life jacket.
Children enjoy water activities more than any other while at 
Overnight Summer Camp but it is also a very dangerous are if not all safety precautions are not being met.
Read 938 times Last modified on Sunday, 13 March 2016 12:28
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25 Baybrook Ln.

Oak Brook, IL 60523

Phone: 630-654-8036


W7471 Ernie Swift Rd.

Minong, WI 54859

Phone: 715-466-5666