Meet Huntington State Beach Lifeguard & ISLA Volunteer Leo Oorts
How did you first get started with ISLA?
I first heard about ISLA through Will Koon of an opportunity to lifeguard in the Dominican Republic. What attracted me to ISLA was the organization’s previous experience in training lifeguards abroad. At that time, ISLA had conducted trips to Nicaragua and Ecuador. Once I was set to attend the ISLA trip, I was most interested in the experience of lifeguarding and training in unfamiliar environments with minimal resources. The experience was great and much more than I had envisioned. It really opened my eyes to see the real need for lifeguards worldwide, and more importantly, the interest by people to volunteer their time and train others in becoming lifeguards.
What does your position at ISLA entail?
While in the Dominican Republic, I had the responsibility of a course instructor in leading lectures, drills, and exercises. The course was an intensive 3-day basic Ocean Lifeguard Training course that included a first aid CPR practical exam, written test, non-buoy and buoy rescue practical exam, and physical training. As a lifeguard volunteer who is fluent in Spanish, my position with ISLA also involves direct instruction in Spanish and translation for non-English/Spanish speaking participants. Most of our trips are abroad and knowing a second language is advantageous.
Understanding the culture and the means by which people live in these regions is extremely helpful toward the success of an ISLA project or any other type of trip. There is a huge amount of responsibility held by each volunteer in hosting a successful lifeguard training course and the commitment and effort given by every volunteer is critical toward the success of each project.
What do you love most about volunteering for ISLA?
There are many advantages to volunteering. Volunteering to provide a lifeguard service simply because you love what you do, that is the most rewarding. I really love the opportunity to meet new faces, share new experiences, and lifeguard. There are tons of people, lifeguards and non-lifeguards, around the world who share the values and vision of ISLA, and who are willing to volunteer, contribute, donate and help in many different ways. Good things will come.