Sweet, sweet summertime. The days when children spend hours at a time outside — laughing, splashing, and playing in the best thing that keeps them cool, happy, and active: water. A camp’s waterfront is often the core of its programming activities. It’s the highlight of every counselor and camper’s day. But with the fun comes the need to ensure your waterfront is properly prepared for the upcoming camp season. While there are many camp activities that require constant supervision, swimming and other water-related activities need special attention to ensure camper safety and most importantly, fun. Read on for five simple waterfront safety tips to get your camp’s waterfront swimmer ready.

Inspect Your Waterfront

As the Aquatics Waterfront Director or the Waterfront Supervisor, it is your job to fully inspect your camp’s waterfront at the beginning of the season. Survey the entire waterfront and apply what you know about the year's incoming programs. Will you be adding a new activity, such as SUPing to the list? Or adding on to your aquapark with Aquaglide’s customizable pieces, like the Jungle Joe or Monkey Dome? Make sure you’re prepared by knowing what you have to offer, and what the condition of your waterfront is. How did your waterfront fare over winter? Are there any fallen trees in the water, or other hidden dangers? This will take a thorough visual and physical inspection of the shoreline. Take this opportunity to walk the shoreline, and view the shoreline by boat.

Check & Update Safety Equipment, Prepare Waterfront Areas

Conduct a thorough review of all safety items on-hand, and replace any that have too much wear, are broken, or are simply outdated. Whistles, poles, rescue tubes, a first aid kit, buoys, and radios should all be readily available, and up to standards.

In preparing your waterfront, your camp should have two swimming areas — one for swimmers and one for non-swimmers. All non-swimmers should be confined to waters less than chest deep. Once you have those areas in place, determine a solution for how they will be divided. A swim dock is an excellent choice that will last years, or you can opt for a float line, or lines of camp employees.  Additionally, if your camp has an aquapark, be sure to inflate, clean and properly uv treat your park pieces to kick off camp season.

Hire Certified Employees

Ensure you have plenty of certified employees in place for the season. Check in the on requirements for your state, and make sure you know how many lifeguards you need for your waterfront facility. What square footage can one cover? How many children per lifeguard? In addition, determine your camp’s counselor to camper ratio. If it’s 1:4, hire and employ those individuals accordingly.

It helps to have a visual. Sketch your waterfront and note where camp counselors and lifeguards will be positioned throughout the day, around the swim area during aquatic activities.

Educate Your Campers

Waterfront safety starts with the camper. Set limits early on, implement the buddy system, and require a swimming proficiency test. A detailed buddy system and a buddy board can help your camp immensely when it comes to camper accountability. Make sure to have a clear buddy board, that pairs each camper with a “buddy” of similar swimming ability. This “buddy” will act as their “personal protector”, or another set of eyes. This board may be a white board, or even a handheld sheet. And while in action, determine who will conduct buddy checks and how often, to make sure everyone is following along.

During the first free swim of the season, conduct a swimming proficiency test to determine each child’s ability. Make sure you have the proper facilitator administering these tests, such as a Progressive Swimming Instructor with current certification. Following the test, group children based on results. For example, non-swimmers vs. swimmers. Once those groups are identified, provide extra precaution with identifiables for each group, like a colored wristband. That way, all employees can clearly identify if a non-swimmer, who is wearing a green wristband, is in the swimmer area, with those who are wearing red wristbands.

Experience The Waterfront For Yourself

Get in the water! We’re looking at you Aquatics Waterfront Director, or Waterfront Supervisor. Observe lifeguards, observe children, observe procedures. Sometimes it takes being amidst the fun to catch a potential hazard. Have a plan in place. While we hope to never fall in a sticky situation, it is sometimes unavoidable. Prepare and brace yourself and your team when each “scenario” arises by having a plan in place. This includes a lost swimmer, a drowning, an injury, dehydration, or any other medical emergency.

Make it a great season by implementing these crucial steps early. It’s time to get in the water and have fun!

Blog provided by Aquaglide.