(July 23, 2021) The Ocean City Beach Patrol is again offering its annual Junior Beach Patrol Academy this summer for youth ages 10-17.
The four-day academy is offered Tuesday through Friday, where participants are split up into four different levels. There are two time sessions available: 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-5 p.m. The academy started the Tuesday after the Fourth of July and runs for six consecutive weeks.
The sessions were limited to 20 participants each last year, due to covid-19 restrictions. With restrictions lifted this year, the Junior Beach Patrol Academy has 280 participants registered.
“We are already filled up with more people on waiting lists, so all of the four-day sessions are booked, but the one-day sessions on Thursdays still have openings,” OCBP Lt. Ward Kovacs said.
The one-day sessions run on Thursdays from 1-4:30 p.m.
This year’s turnout is the most participants the program has ever had, Kovacs added.
“Each day has a different theme, and the kids learn all about beach safety but also learn about the relationships we have with other agencies. They get to experience the fire department, EMS, police department and the bomb squad in the program,” Kovacs said.
Participants will start at level I and can progress up to level IV, which is the crew chief level.
Level I participants will start by learning about rescue buoys and receive a holistic introduction on the importance of beach safety.
Level II and Level III participants will learn how to use landlines and complete rescues drills. They will also learn how to use surf rescue boards and practice with all equipment.
Level IV participants, the crew chief level, will help lead the programs and assist in training the participants in the lower levels of the program.
Kovacs said that his favorite part of the program is seeing the kids progress through each level and how close each crew becomes throughout the process.
“On day one the kids barely know each other and by the end of the first week you will see them already exchanging phone numbers,” Kovacs said.
Callie Mull, 14, is a fourth-year participant in the program. She is an aspiring beach patrol lifeguard. Her brother, Connor, is a member of beach patrol.
“I have done three weeks every year since I was 10. My brother started when he was younger and I want to be a lifeguard like him,” Mull said.
Jack Falcon, 12, joined the program because he enjoys the beach activities with friends and his father is a sergeant on the OCBP.
Falcon said his father, Jamie, has been on the beach patrol for 25 years and that he is interested in joining when he is old enough.
The four-day sessions cost $137 for non-Ocean City residents and $112 for residents, while the one-day sessions cost $35 for non-residents and $30 for residents.
Parents can also enjoy a day on the beach and experience their children go through the program.
For more information on the Junior Beach Patrol Academy, visit https://camps.oceancitymd.gov/junior-beach-patrol-camp/