Project Indonesia 2016

Posted on: September 20th, 2015 by Henry Reyes No Comments

Visit the World’s Largest archipelago…Indonesia!

Don’t miss out as ISLA & Lifeguards Without Borders embark on their 1st project in Indonesia! With thousands of square miles of coastline, the splendors of Indonesia are as many as its countless islands.

We’ll arrive and discover Jakarta, a huge sprawling metropolis and Indonesia’s capital located on the northern coast of Java, where the team will meet up for a day of exploration in this dynamic city. The following morning, we will greet our friends from Surf Lifesaving Pangandaran who will be transporting us to Pangandaran Beach, West Java, in preparation for our 3-day ISLA Basic Open Water Course.

In Pangandaran we’ll meet our ISLA course participants and learn about Indonesia’s beaches, operational sites and lifeguarding resources to share ideas and techniques. Between training courses in Pangandaran, we’ll be sure to wander the fine sand beaches and journey through this remote town of beach resorts and lush natural park wonders.

On our final day in Pangandaran, the team will take some time to explore the best kept secret of Pangandaran, “a piece of heaven on earth” known as Green Canyon.

You will meet lifelong friends, experience the beauty of Indonesia, and have the adventure of a life-time!
lifeguard balawista

Tentative Project Itinerary

January 3, 2016: Arrive at Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia (CGK)

January 4, 2016: Travel to Pangandaran Beach & Prep for Training Course

January 5, 2016: ISLA Open Water Training Course: Day 1

January 6, 2016: ISLA Open Water Training Course: Day 2

January 7, 2016: ISLA Open Water Training Course: Day 3

January 8, 2016: Cascading Tour of Green Canyon

January 9, 2016: Travel back to Jakarta

January 10, 2016: Depart from Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia (CGK)

pangandaran lifeguard

Pre-Project Schedule

October 9, 2015: Project Indonesia Applications Close

October 12, 2015: Selected Volunteers Notified

October 16, 2015: $100 non-refundable deposit and airfare purchase due

November 20, 2015: $750 non-refundable project donation due

Green Canyon


ISLA Project Donation: $850 USD
Indonesia Entrance Fee: None (for U.S. Citizens, may vary by country)
Airfare: Varies*

*Each volunteer will be responsible for their own airfare to Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (CGK) in Jakarta, Indonesia. Round trip airfare from Los Angeles, CA (LAX) is approximately . $900-1,300. The $850.00 donation will cover housing, most food, ground transport, uniform, and equipment donations for the project. Tour entrance admissions in Indonesia is also covered with this donation.


      • Lodging for the duration of the project
      • Meals during Volunteer Lifeguard Portions (approximately ½ the trip)
      • In country transportation
      • 1 Year ISLA Membership
      • International Travelers Insurance for the duration of the project
      • Full ISLA Uniform
      • Equipment Donation


Project Nicaragua: Semana Santa 2015 Recap

Posted on: August 26th, 2015 by Henry Reyes No Comments


We here at ISLA are very happy to have just completed our sixth Semana Santa volunteering in Nicaragua. The Project was a great success, but it wouldn’t have been as successful without the help from our partners at Lifeguards Without Borders who oversaw the medical and scientific research component of the Project. We had 17 volunteers with us that included individuals from California, Florida, North and South Carolina, Massachusetts, the Dominican Republic, and Australia. Our volunteers worked at three different beaches (La Boquita, Jiquilillo, & Poneloya) spread across the entirety of the country’s pacific coast. It was quite an adventure and we were very busy during the four day Holiday weekend. Though the beach crowds had still not recovered from last years seismic scares (there was also a small earthquake during the Holiday this year) there was plenty of work to be done.

Here are the Project Nicaragua 2015 Stats:

  • 17 ISLA Volunteers
  • 840 Preventions
  • 43 Rescues
  • 28 Medical calls
  • 820 Total Hours Guarded (including CRN members on our teams)

Lifeguard Tower Nicaragua

Some highlights of the trip included: a large abandoned sailboat coming ashore in the middle of the night and consequently causing a major hazard with the tide the next day, broken bones due to shore break waves, and successful resuscitation of drowning victims on the beach. No drowning deaths were recorded at any of the beaches where our ISLA volunteers were stationed. ISLA veteran and “C” Team (jiquillo) Leader Dave Wager said: “To be able to share a life changing experience with someone makes you more than friends…it makes you family. For me that’s what ISLA is all about. Expanding your lifesaving family!”

Great job ISLA Guards!!! This year’s Project Nicaragua volunteers were:

Chris Angelotti – Oceanside, CA
Donny Constransitch – North Myrtle Beach Ocean Rescue, SC
Nicole Emmerson – Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
Alexis Fender – ISLA, U.S.A.
Natalie Foley – Sandy Beach Association, MA
Bryce Green – Nags Head Ocean Rescue, NC
William Koon – Huntington State Beach (California State Parks), CA
Vasilli Pleqi – Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
Joe Perez – ISLA, Dominican Republic
Angela Ray – Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue, FL
Henry Reyes – Huntington City Beach Lifeguards/Santa Monica Harbor Patrol, CA
Nicholas Schriver – East Bay Regional Park Dist. Fire Department/Lifeguard Service, CA
Justin Sempstrot – Lifeguards Without Borders & Jacksonville Beach (ARC Volunteer Lifesaving Corps), FL
David Wagner – Huntington City Beach, CA
Hannah Wrenn – Fernandina Beach Ocean Rescue, FL
Nanz Zekela – ISLA, U.S.A.
Rachael Zielman – Surf Life Saving Australia, NSW

Project Nicaragua

But, even with all the good work done by ISLA volunteers and their Nicaraguan counterparts, there were 34 deaths by drowning during the 4-day Semana Santa holiday celebration this year. This statistic reinforces the need for additional lifesaving personnel, equipment, and training needed in Nicaragua. According to Maritza Vargas, Chief lifeguard of the Nicaraguan Red Cross, “The Nicaraguan Red Cross attended to 13 of the drowning victims who had found their way to ditches, lakes, and Chanel’s that are part of the countries water shed system but we’re unsuccessful in saving their lives. The additional twenty one individuals who drowned were individuals who unfortunately did not heed the recommendations because they were drunk.”

Product Review: Original Watermen Lifeguard Tonga Hat

Posted on: May 17th, 2015 by Henry Reyes No Comments

Lifeguard Tonga Hat

Hats are essential for all lifeguards. We all know how important it is to protect our skin from the harsh UV rays. The Tonga Hat from Original Watermen allows for 360 degrees of coverage.

For the ISLA project in Nicaragua we knew it was going to be hot. The Tonga hat kept the sun off my face and kept me cool. I normally wear a baseball cap to guard in but when we were given the Tonga hat it was a no-brainer as to what I would be using. I used the hat every day we were on the beach and my face, neck and ears did not get burnt. It also surprised me how cool the hat was, temperature wise.

The hat was very durable. The chin strap helped secure the hat on my head, as it was very windy. There were a couple of times I took the my hat in the water and I was worried what the salt would do to it, to my surprise it held up very well. The eyelets did not rust and it was even free of salt stains.

Upon returning home, I knew my hat needed to be washed do to how much I had worn it. So I threw it in the washer on a delicate cycle. The hat came out good as new. I laid it flat to dry. I recommend the Tonga Hat to all guards to help protect your skin!

Original Watermen Tonga Hat
Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: $10.50 (without embroidery)
Durability: A+
Performance: A+
Fit/Cut: A
Style/Swagger: A+
Comfort: A+
Price/Value: A+

Final Word: Great hat, for a great value!

– Alexis Fender

May 15th is International Water Safety Day

Posted on: May 13th, 2015 by islasurforg No Comments

“Striving to make a planet that’s 70% water, 100% water safe.”

About International Water Safety Day
International Water Safety Day (IWSD) is celebrated on May 15th each year and is designed to help spread global awareness of the ongoing drowning pandemic, and educate the youth in becoming safer in and around water. The lack of water safety education has propelled drownings worldwide and is why IWSD is a global team effort to make drowning preventable. IWSD is proud to announce several global events taking place on May 15th, 2015. These are a few of the many examples of how IWSD is celebrated around the world:

Safe Greece
Dr. Stathis Avramidis’ project will reach nearly 500,000 school children in Greece to teach Water Safety. The event is endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Hellenic CDC, International Swimming Hall of Fame, Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, Hellenic Federation of Underwater Activity, and International Awards Guiseppe Sciacca.

Bridging the Hydrological Divide
Diversity in Aquatic Programs will celebrate International Water Safety Day at the Jim and Jan Moran, Boys & Girls Club, Deerfield Beach Florida. A collection of aquatic professionals from across Broward County and the nation, will gather to interact with the children ages 7-14, to educate and practice some basic water safety skills, as well as showcase and promote the plethora of Safe Water Sports, activities, and professions in the classroom environment.

IWSD in Jamaica
A team of Aquatic Professionals along with Jamaican Olympian Janelle Atkinson-Wignall will present International Water Safety Day in Kingston, Jamaica. The team will make an impact on hundreds of students teaching our 10 #WaterSafety Rules in classroom settings.

Water Safety Awareness Workshops
In recognition of International Water Safety Day, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation is conducting citywide Water Safety Awareness Workshops from Saturday, May 9 through Friday, May 15 with Parks aquatic program participants attending including parents of tots, children, adults, senior citizens, swim team members and those with disabilities. The Water Safety Awareness Workshops will reach over 5,000 children.

Water Safety Carnival
International Water Safety Foundation teams up with Sail Nauticus and Norfolk Public Schools to put on the 1st Annual Water Safety Carnival. Discussions on lifejacket safety, boat safety, sailing knots, and a life ring toss will be addressed. Two-time Olympic swimmer Dr. James Walsh will be guest speaking.

How You Can Show Support on May 15th:

  • Use the hash tags #watersafetyday and #stopdrowning on social media
  • Share our Drowning Pandemic video (above)
  • Download a badge from IWSD website to add to your blog our webpage
  • Wear BLUE
  • Connect and become active with the local aquatic professionals, enthusiasts, coaches and athletes in your area, to create your own International Water Safety Day Event for next year

Go to for more information on how to host or sponsor an #IWSD event!

International Water Safety Day

Water Is Life For Me, It’s Made Me Who I Am Today

Posted on: May 6th, 2015 by raquel No Comments

Meet ISLA’s volunteer global lifeguard, Nick Schriver. He joined ISLA for our 2015 Nicaragua Lifeguard trip, check out his ISLA Experience…

Nick Schriver

What can you tell us about yourself?

I am a waterman – I love to swim and will get in just about any body of water and “navigate the waters,” swimming, free-diving, scuba diving, paddling, boating, and surfing. I am a water baby, and water is life for me, it’s made me who I am today. There is no better feeling of inner space, the closest thing to outer space. Pools, lakes, bay, the ocean, what have you… I gravitate toward the water and wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t sort out life challenges while swimming and thinking about them. Keeping the lifeguards stoked on swimming is always one of my objectives, reminding them of the essence of the job and getting in the water to swim every chance they get. No cats allowed and “you’re getting in the water today.” Oh and I like the smell of chlorine on my skin

My two main hobbies are snowboarding and surfing, depending on the season, any free day that I have, I spend it doing those sports. I have a 6 y/o son and have recently taught him to be water safe and ski the mountain top-to-bottom by himself. Passing on the “stoke,” one of my life goals – check. My dedication into life is for him; I do the best I can as a parent.

The meaning of life for me is to be able to influence and impact as many lives as possible thorough my family, friends, lifeguards, work, hobbies, and public. Being able to move on and see the impact I’ve made, passing on whatever it may be to the next generation, also through sharing my walk of life and being able to talk about and share life’s peaks and valleys, lessons learned, and passion for life.

I love my career in public safety, I’m an Aquatic Supervisor and Fire Lieutenant and am “living the dream” to be able to have a direct impact on society, teach lifesaving and directly and indirectly see the impact I’ve made on lifeguards and lives saved, those aspects make me thankful for my life and influence. I’m passionate about life and although I love my job, “I work to live.”

I have been lifeguarding for over 21 years and was hired as a career lifeguard in 2001. I consider myself a swimmer by trade and attribute making a career out of lifeguarding my hard work, grit, successes, and passion for lifesaving. I work for the East Bay Regional Park District – Fire Department/Lifeguard Service – we are open water lifeguards, lifeguarding at lakes, reservoirs, bay, lagoons, and pools, catering to a population of approximately half-a-million visitors annually.

When did you start lifeguarding?
When I was a kid I stared up at the lifeguards in their towers as if they were superheroes; I was in awe and forever inspired. I started lifeguarding in 1994 at Lake Anza, Tilden Park, East Bay Regional Park District, – Berkeley, CA. I chose this noble work work because I could use my swim talents to the fullest while aspiring to make a difference in society.

What is your favorite beach?
Francis Beach – aka “Kelly Beach”, Half Moon Bay State Beach, CA

What is your favorite aspect of being a lifeguard?
Being able to detect and make life-altering decisions in a matter of critical moments and decisions that will determine survivability outcomes. As a leader in lifeguarding I love working with adolescent lifeguards, I feel I have a direct impact on the future of our society through influencing them and the difference that they can make in the future; they endlessly challenge my wit and physical abilities keeping me young.

Nick Schriver

What inspires you?
My son, family, loyalty, righteous peeps, snowboarding, surfing, my job, scaring myself on open water swims, and life-fitness. And… hitting a long-ball straight drive golfing.  Inspiration is making a difference through lifeguarding; knowing that you can look at a life saved and know that they will go home to their family.

Why did you get involved with ISLA?
ISLA is doing work in a field that is underdeveloped and still young as far as advancements and addressing an underrepresented global problem/disease – drowning, and preventing it. I wanted to get involved so that I could increase drowning prevention awareness on a larger scale, being able to influence lifeguards through prevention, pro-activeness, and training. When I first heard a presentation from “Lifeguards Without Borders” at the Surf Lifesaving Training Officer Academy in Florida, I gained a new perspective on the drowning epidemic and how there is much work to be done not just at locally, but globally; I wanted to put my newly acquired skills and knowledge to work with ISLA. Nicaragua has always been on my bucket list and is right up my alley because I love Latin America and I love to speak Spanish – it’s in my blood, I’m half Peruvian. ISLA enables me to use all of my passions and talents to contribute to society on a much greater scale.

What interests you the most about ISLA?
The positive work ISLA is doing is motivating and innovative, it’s truly where the “rubber meets the road” as far as the work they’re doing. I love the idea of helping lifeguards and people in other countries and bonding a shared mission.

What was your 2015 ISLA Experience like?
It was certainly more than I expected, meeting a group of new lifeguards from all over made the first part of the trip so much fun, the lifeguard culture is fun and extreme, such a unique group and life-long friendships were molded. Once we got our assignment it was a fight against the elements of the heat, sun, and staying hydrated. It was taxing to work long days being in the sun and drinking warm water, and then having trouble sleeping because it was too hot and you were too excited for what the next day had in store. Because I speak Spanish I was translating non-stop, much like a diplomat, mainly for training, but also helping bridge the gap between the non-Spanish speaking ISLA volunteers and the Red Cross. We had one action-packed day of several rescues and a resuscitation; that was the highlight of the trip – saving a drowning victim’s life, knowing that we did more than what we expected to do. However what resonates even more was the Nica culture, making life-long friendships, training with the Red Cross Nica lifeguards (up at the crack of dawn), sharing ideas, and motivating each other.

What was the most memorable about your 2015 ISLA Experience?
The crazy action-packed day with my ISLA partner Chris Angelotti, where we had several surf rescues and the resuscitation of the drowning victim; at the end of day just before the last rescue, looking at him and say “What the…?”

Can you share any stories with us about your Nicaraguan trip?
From the first time I met our veteran volunteers Dave Wags and Hannah Wrenn I could sense their excitement and how it built as we got closer to the beach and our assignment. The first morning on assignment at Jiquilillo beach Hannah woke up at 5:00am and sprung out of bed with the most enthusiasm I have ever heard and said “it’s 5 o’clock everybody get up” – like it was Christmas! Her energy was contagious, even at 5:00am… Now I get it now, that will be me next time.

Nick Schriver

What is lifeguarding during Semana Santa like?
Lifeguarding at Jiquilillo beach was awesome because of the Nicaraguan Red Cross and how well organized and motivated they were. The days were long and we were up at 5:00am to train and then lifeguard side-by-side with the Nicaraguan Red Cross lifeguards, sharing ideas, influencing each other, and making a difference through preventive actions, rescues, and lifeguard strategies. It was fun to go on walking patrol and to mingle with the Nicas, making prevents and telling them about ISLA and what we were doing. Semana Santa was exhausting in a good way, putting in work, knowing that you are truly making a difference and helping modernize the Nicaraguan Red Cross lifeguard service through our influence.

What was the highlight of this year’s trip?
Being my first ISLA trip, the entire trip was a highlight but three high points would be: arriving and meeting all the volunteers, receiving our beach assignment, and going on a surf trip with three other volunteers. Each was a highlight because of the anticipation, the unknowns, and fun. But the action-packed day of making rescues and saving the drowning victim’s life at the beach was truly the highlight that sticks out the most.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about joining an ISLA trip?
Hold on for a wild ride! Mentally and physically prepare yourself for a marathon, so that you can endure tough elements of being in uncomfortable situations for long periods of time. Be patient, flexible, and of course put a smile on your face because “winning and looking good are number one.” Just as it was for me, the trip and experience will be one of the most fulfilling and impactful things that you will do in your life, it may even be life-altering and you will go back home a changed, more inspired, and passionate person. The trip will remind you about what it means to be a lifeguard and the difference you can make both small and big. Lastly, bring your best sunscreen!

How will you continue to prevent drowning and create Awareness for the global drowning epidemic after your ISLA Trip?
I plan on carrying forward the message and creating awareness of drowning being a disease that is misunderstood and underrepresented, changing perspectives and understanding on the topic and the difference we can all make as lifeguards and humanitarians. We can all work together to make a positive impact in the global drowning epidemic. I will work to be able to connect with our Hispanic park visitors, speak to them in Spanish, educate them and move towards making them water safe and teaching them to wear lifejackets. This awareness needs to be made at local, state, national, and international levels so that more progress, research, and development can be made to better understand the impact of drowning. Lastly the way that “Lifeguards Without Borders” is training and educating lifeguards on how to treat and resuscitate drowning victims is radical, enlightening, innovative, and inspiring. We as lifeguards need to understand this movement and recognize that we are “resuscitationists” and have a few critical moments to make life-and-death decisions. I want to help train lifeguards and spread their message and methods.

Describe yourself in three words.
Deliberate, versatile, humble


Want to join our team of International Lifeguards? Want to help #StopDrowning?

Are you someone passionate about helping others? Interested in traveling the globe as a humanitarian lifeguard? Signing up to our newsletter below is the 1st step!

Volunteer Lifeguard

DO IT, You Will Definitely Not Regret It

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by raquel No Comments

Meet ISLA’s volunteer global lifeguard, Vasili Pleqi. He joined ISLA for our Nicaragua Lifeguard trip for the 2nd year in a row. Read more about him and his 2014 and his 2015 ISLA Experience…

Vasili Nicaragua

When did you start lifeguarding?

I started lifeguarding in February of 2012, when my swim coach/Jr. Guard Director for 5 years in a row told me, “You will make a hell of a lifeguard, you have everything you need to be successful”, ever since then I learned that lifeguarding is way more than just looking good, talking to opposite sex on the beach, and partying everyday after work.

What can you tell us about yourself?

Right now I am a LG Training Instructor. I have been an Jr. Lifeguard Instructor for 2 years, Graduated from Ponte Vedra High School in May 2014. Graduated from First Coast Technical College with an EMT-B technical certificate in Dec. 2014 (waiting for NREMT exam to be scheduled) I am currently a Full Time student at Florida State College in Jacksonville Nursing is my major.

My professional life goal is to move up the ranks of the Ocean Rescue Dept. while in school and traveling, and in 10 years I see myself being a Physician Assistant and working in the Emergency Room.

Another life goal for me is to visit as many countries possible and experience different cultures, that is why I will continue to be an active member of ISLA.

Some of my favorite hobbies are hiking, rowing on my free time, and reading non-fiction novels.


Vasili Pleqi

What is your favorite beach?

Beside the Glyfada (the beside where I grew up in Greece), Ft Lauderdale is my favorite beach, it brings memories from Greece, lots of people year round, stores, restaurants and bars on the board walk. Although, nothing is better than camping out on the beach in a tropical country.

What is your favorite aspect of being a Lifeguard?

Being able to put together all the things you love and are passionate about.

How did you first get started with ISLA?
I found out about Isla from one my co-workers Taylor Anderson upon his return from ISLA’s 1st Eastern Europe trip.

What interests you most about ISLA?

Besides traveling, There is nothing better than making new friends, sharing stories, learning new ways to rescue people, and most importantly being part of a taking to underdeveloped countries improve their lifeguard operations.

What was your ISLA experience in 2014?
I had an incredible experience with the crew. I got to bodysurf some of the biggest waves, made new friends, exchanged lifesaving techniques with the team, and quickly learned to appreciate all the resources we have here stateside. My #1 tip for your next ISLA to be patient and have fun.

What was your ISLA experience in 2015?

The experience was one of a kind! We had an awesome group of lifeguards from Massachusetts, N. S. Carolina, Florida, California, and Australia. It was a good feeling to be able a make a difference in the community of Poneloya, Nicaragua with our presence at the beaches. We were able to interrupt the process of drowning to a few, and that alone I am very proud to be an ISLA member and honored to be selected to go two years in a row.

What is lifeguarding Semana Santa (Easter) like?

Chaos with long and hot days! It is definitely not the type of lifeguarding we do back in the states, the way EMS works, and scope of practice! If I had to describe it in one word I would say “IMPROVISE”, work with what you have! It’s amazing how you only need a BVM to interrupt the process of drowning, compared to all the advanced equipment we use back home.

How will you continue to prevent drowning And create awareness for the Global Drowning Epidemic (WHO Estimates 375,000+) after your ISLA trip? 

After coming back from my trip, I will be continuing to host water safety workshops in my city, and collaborate with the ARC, and the ARC Project an organization from the Great Lakes with swimming lesson events, and surf camps. Project Wipeout has been very supportive on this cause and has been sending a lot of educational brochures, posters and coloring book to be used and passed out at our Water Safety Events throughout the city.

Vasili Pleqi

Describe Yourself in 3 words.

Responsible, Confident, Adventurous

What inspires you?

What inspired me to continue these trips is the good times we all have, saving lives, giving back to the local communities we work with, and the great opportunities to see the world! Pretty much what the US Navy says ” Join the Navy, and see the world”

What you you say to someone who is thinking about joining an isla trip?

DO IT, you will definitely not regret it! Heres 3 tips If you join next years Semana Santa team, #1 Watch Dr Justin Sempsrott lecture on drowning, it will definitely come in handy. #2 Pack very light, #3 Work Hard, Party Hard! #4 Don’t be the first one to go to bed.

Want to join our team of International Lifeguards?

Are you someone passionate about helping others? Interested in traveling the globe as a humanitarian lifeguard? Signing up to our newsletter below is the 1st step!

Volunteer Lifeguard