Fenwick prepares to cover its beach

With the summer only an arm’s length away, the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol Committee met April 9 to review lifeguard decorum and responsibilities, discuss plans for a July 2 community beach bonfire and set parameters for the planned junior lifeguard program.

In the wake of concerns from the community as to how Fenwick lifeguards conducted themselves and applied their authority in 2004, Fenwick Beach Patrol Captain Tim Ferry assured the committee and the community that they will see a more professional atmosphere this season.

“There had been problems in the past where lifeguards have spent too much time talking at their chairs with girls, and that won’t be the case this year,” said Ferry. “It’s OK for them to talk to guys or girls, as long as they keep their conversations to a minimum and scan the water at all times. We’ll have our lieutenants checking in on our chairs periodically,” he added.

A strong emphasis was also placed on this season’s lifeguards maintaining order not only in the water but on the beach. Lifeguards will implement the no-glass policy on the beach, and if problems persist they are being encouraged to call the police.

The surfing beach in Fenwick will remain north of a set of orange flags, but surf conditions will dictate their position. The surf beach has been taken advantage in the past by surfers overstepping their bounds, Ferry said, but with a 90-percent retention rate of last year’s lifeguards, Fenwick will have a more experienced crew to enforce beach regulations.

“Right now, we have only four spots available for the summer. We want to have a tryout prior to Memorial weekend tryout,” said Ferry. Prospective lifeguards can pick up applications at the town hall, and each candidate will receive a letter informing them when and where the tryout will take place, and what to expect.

The beach will be fully guarded starting June 11, and lifeguard positioning will be at Ferry’s discretion. The amount of lifeguards manning each chair will be determined by several factors: potential crowds, surf conditions, weather, guards still in training or drilling, and guard scheduling.

“We will staff the beach to maximize the effectiveness for safety,” said Ferry.

The lifeguard stands will also feature new beach information signs to further protect the community. The signs will include useful information such as water temperature, high/low tide and surf conditions.

With the Fenwick beach patrol in order for 2005, the committee’s attention turned to the next generation of lifeguards. The patrol will offer a junior lifeguard program for boys and girls ages 9 to 15.

The program will offer six summer sessions, tentatively starting on July 5 and running until Aug. 9. Each session will cost $35 and will last two days. Parents of interested participants can register and send their entrance fee for any session as early as mid-May. The cost of the camp will includes uniform, instruction and supervision, a certificate of participation and U.S. Lifeguard Association Junior Lifeguard membership.

The USLA has certified the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol training regimen.

Each session will be limited to 15 participants, each of whom must have adequate swimming skills. The camp is not a swimming lesson but will provide some swimming techniques, Ferry noted.

The goals and objectives of the program are to promote public education regarding beach and water safety, promote health and fitness, provide training in water-safety and beach skills, develop skills in teamwork and sportsmanship, and to develop future lifeguards.

With responsibility comes reward, and the town is planning a community beach bonfire scheduled for the evening of July 2. The event will have activities for the whole family: kids’ games, music, volleyball, horseshoes and some good ol’ relaxation. The children’s activities will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by the bonfire at 8:30. Everyone in the community is being encouraged to attend.