On the Waterfront

The Best Way to have Fun

Everyone Certified: If you are guarding at the waterfront, you need to be certified as a lifeguard. If you are teaching swimming and assessing competencies, you need to be certified.

If your camp requires all staff to be certified in First Aid and CPR, then they need to be certified. Certification is a qualification for a job on a waterfront.

Best Practice: When someone applies for camp waterfront staff positions, review their certifications. If they are hired, certifications should be verified with the organizations awarding them and photocopies of the originals should be kept in their employment files.

When required by law, the age of the applicant must also be verified (if work permits are required, applicants cannot become employees until the work permits are on file).

Job Descriptions: As the camp waterfront director you need a job description. So does everyone else with responsibility for the waterfront programs.

A basic job description defines the position or job function, defines the minimal qualifications and details the expectations for the individual holding the position through the use of job segments, each with measurable outcomes.

Best Practice: Everyone at the waterfront has a job description that clearly defines their overall function, qualifications required to hold the position, and performance expectations.

Play By the Rules: There are rules set by government (federal, state, and local), rules set by your organization, and even rules set by you and your staff.

Follow these rules, mentor your staff and model appropriate safe behavior whenever you are in or around the camp waterfront. Make your rules a list of things to do because they create a safe environment for everyone.

Best Practice: Campers (and staff) should be nurtured and rewarded for playing safe. They should understand why the rules exist, and they should aspire to comply.

If a camper is putting their own self or others at risk, then perhaps some time out of the water or waterfront, to reflect on the nature of the infraction, is in order. But don’t misuse activities and punishment, like taking an activity that should be a good thing and using it as punishment (countless swimmers have been punished for inappropriate behavior using a distance swim or the butterfly stoke as the misused tool).

Be Prepared: Risk management is a critical component to a successful camping season at the waterfront. Technically, certifications and rules also fall under risk management. However, they are each important enough to have their own sections. Other risks requiring management include, but may not be limited to:

• Access and egress to the waterfront (fences, gates, etc).

• Check-in/check-out systems (tag boards, buddy systems, etc.).

• Clearly defined swim areas (beginner, intermediate and advanced, etc.) with appropriate access and egress to the beach or dock system (ladders, ramps, etc.).

• Safe docks and floats (all surfaces are free of sharp edges, top surface is safe to walk on when wet, docks and floats are easily accessed from water, etc.)

• Regular checks for water quality (cleanliness, turbidity, etc.) and dangerous aquatic life.

• Regular checks for water temperature and air temperature to best inform decisions regarding the duration and/or exposure to the water/air during programs/special events.

• Regular checks for changes in the water (tides, currents, etc.).

• Lifeguards on duty and at ready, throughout all aquatic activities (open swims, swim lessons, etc.).

• Emergency procedures posted, practiced, and followed for accidents/incidents, lost bathers, and weather (thunder/lightning, hail, etc.).

• Emergency warning systems (alarms, horns, bells, etc.) are readily available with the various warning patterns understood by everyone.

• All emergency equipment for any accident/incident is readily available and adequately maintained at the waterfront and all staff is properly instructed regarding their use.

• As appropriate, campers on a restricted activity level or with other health issues should be clearly identified to all staff (while at the same time maintaining required levels of confidentiality).

• Telephone of some type is available to provide ready access to 911 emergencies and all staff is properly instructed regarding how to manage a 911 emergency telephone call.

• Safe storage of all camp waterfront equipment when not in use and safe use of all equipment when being used will further support the equipment maintenance and length of service.

• Use of flotation devices should be clearly regulated and supervised.

About toilets, eyeglasses, towels, gum, band aids, showers, floatation devices, and everything else, you decide… What will you do when a camper says they need to go to the bathroom?

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