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Junior Lifeguard Camp Returns to Panama City Beach

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — Swimming, paddling, running and more are all skills lifeguards need.

And you may have noticed that Panama City Beach’s lifeguards were a bit younger this week.

“It’s kids ages 9 to 15,” said Wil Spivey, director of beach safety. “This is a one week course, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 11.30am”

Panama City Beach Rescue hosted a junior lifeguard camp this week.

In this camp, children learn all the basics of beach safety and supervision.

“Running, swimming, paddling, performing rescues,” Spivey said. “We learn about rip currents. We learn more about beach flags. We discover marine life.

The goal of the camp is to teach kids how to be safe at the beach and to teach others, but before the campers started their training, they did some practice.

“We just have to make sure the kids know how to swim,” Spivey said. “It’s physically demanding, but it’s also very rewarding.”

A typical day for junior lifeguards includes stretching and warming up and they can even play fun beach games.

One of the more challenging events is an activity called the Gauntlet.

“It’s a 200-yard swim, a quarter-mile run and a 200-yard paddle,” Spivey said. “It’s a bit like a lifeguard triathlon.”

The goal of the Gauntlet is to be trained to save lives.

“When it comes to beach safety and life monitoring, when someone has trouble in the water, the quicker you can get there, the bigger the difference that can make,” Spivey said.

Junior lifeguards learn all sorts of things, but perhaps the best part is self-confidence.

“It’s seeing kids doing things that maybe they weren’t sure they could do,” Spivey said. “When we go out a little deeper in the water than before or the first time a child catches a wave.”

The camp trains the next generation to keep others safe in and out of the water.

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