Dominican Republic Here We Come!

Posted on: April 8th, 2014 by islasurforg No Comments

Hi! My name is Jenalea Cree! I am currently packing my swimsuits, fins and t-shirts to get ready to go on my first ISLA trip to the Dominican Republic. I am extremely excited and a little nervous but can’t wait to see the difference ISLA can make while in the DR and how I can contribute.

Jena

A little about me is that I am currently a Lifeguard and Junior Lifeguard Instructor at Crystal Cove State Park in Laguna Beach, CA. If you haven’t been there before, you should! It’s truly an Orange County gem, stuck in time, and nestled between the famous Newport and Laguna beaches. I graduated from UC Santa Cruz about a year ago and have been lifeguarding in Santa Cruz and Crystal Cove ever since!

I got involved with ISLA after hearing Will Koon (if you don’t know who Will is check out our Facebook page! He’s pretty cool!) talk about ISLA at lifeguard training in Huntington Beach. I had always had the travel bug and couldn’t wait to get involved with an organization that allowed me to see the world while doing my favorite job, lifeguarding! So I Facebooked Raquel Lizarraga (another amazing person doing some pretty cool things for ISLA and life in general!) asking how I could help and I’ve been working with ISLA ever since! Already I have had the opportunity to help with the Global Drowning tracker, the Kiss FM interview and the Drowning Prevention 5K.  So if you guys are looking to get involved with ISLA just Facebook us! Everyone is super friendly and we are always looking for inspiring people to join the team!

KIIS FM

I am the most excited to now finally have the opportunity to travel abroad and help people in other countries in person. I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone and helping out in Orange County but I can’t wait to experience a new country and use my lifeguarding skills to help other people who don’t have the knowledge we have in Southern California. I am extremely excited to meet the local people and immerse myself in a whole new culture and place.  I’m also really excited to meet the other lifeguards traveling from beaches allover the United States that will all becoming together to work for this awesome cause! I can’t wait to travel to the Dominican Republic and the next few days can’t go by soon enough! DR here we come!!!

 

-Jenalea Cree

Jena

 

Want to join our team?

isla

We’re looking to add more people to our volunteer team. Are you someone with the desire to travel the world? Someone passionate about helping others? Are you interested in volunteering for an organization that changes the lives of thousands of people around the world?

Apply to join our team of Global Lifeguards and our opportunities!

The Story of the Dominican Republic

Posted on: April 7th, 2014 by raquel No Comments

In the Fall of 2011, I was studying abroad in the Dominican Republic when Hurricane Irene tore through the Caribbean.  At the time, I was taking a community health class at the University in Santiago where I was living, and my professor’s husband found out I was a lifeguard and asked if I would be willing to help in some of the recovery and flood rescue efforts after the storm.  I jumped at the opportunity, and quickly found out that emergency services and water safety in the Dominican Republic were worlds away from my experience working for California State Parks in Huntington Beach.

Will

After the hurricane recovery was complete, my new contacts at the Dominican Civil Defense asked if I would be willing to help train some lifeguards in the Dominican Republic.  I thought about it for a few days, and contacted fellow lifeguard Henry Reyes from the City of Huntington Beach who was volunteering with an organization that had done some lifeguard work in Nicaragua (ISLA). I asked Henry if he would be willing to organize a team from the states to come down and help teach a basic beach lifeguard course, and he responded quickly with an excited yes!

From this point, it was my job to coordinate the course, and Henry’s job to get the instructor team together.  I put Henry in contact with fellow California State Lifeguard Leo Oorts, and the two quickly added Huntington State Guard Jesse Heydorf, Huntington City Guard Morgan McGowan, and infamous Corolla Ocean Rescue Captain Mike Hudson from North Carolina.  They secured some critical support from the Huntington State Beach Lifeguard Association, California State Parks Training Division (with the help of Torrey Pines Lifeguard Ed Vodrazka), and the company, Auto Accident Refund.

Will

On my end in the DR, things didn’t come together so smoothly… to say the least.  I worked with a few different groups to cover accommodation, food, and transportation for the group.  Too make a very long story short, one week before the planned training the arrangements for our training location and sleeping arrangements fell through and I was left with nothing except 6 willing volunteer Lifeguard instructors who had already purchased their airfare.  I was desperately trying to figure out what to do, and spend the next four days traveling all over the north coast of the country trying to find place to salvage this massive project.

Discouraged and running out of steam, I took a bus late one night from Santiago to Puerto Plata for a last ditch effort to try and find a place.  My plan was to visit the hotels and resorts and ask for a place to host the course in exchange for free training of hotel employees.  On the bus I saw another guy, and we started chatting.  The man’s name was Kelvin Duek, and he had lived in the DR for close to 15 years.  Eventually I told him my sob story and the hail marry plan to salvage a humanitarian project, to which he shook his head offering several choice words about Dominican government agencies.  He then gave me the phone number of a friend and former business partner of his, and told me “if anyone can help you, this guy can.”

That guy was Gordon Gannon.  Gordon, a Canadian expat, had lived in Cabarete for over 20 years and was very well connected.  The following morning I gave him a call and explained my situation.  He told me he would call a few people to see what he could do.  Not feeling very confident, I started walking down the beach visiting hotels.  After 4 rejections it was noon and I was starved, so I walked to the next hotel, the Viva Wyndham Tangerine in Cabarete, to eat lunch.   As I am sipping on my presidente my phone rings, and I answer to Gordon’s excited voice.   He tells me that the General Manager at Viva (ironically where I am sitting having lunch) used to be a lifeguard in Italy and was willing to donate use of their beach space and the conference room at the hotel for us to host the course!  I immediately guzzled down the rest of my cervesa and ran to meet the GM Diego Girbaldi and thank him for the support.

Gordon and Diego had effectively put together everything we needed for this course in a few short hours, a couple of days before the team from California arrived.   Months of work, failures, trials, and many lessons learned led to the first ISLA Basic Open Water Lifesaving Course in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, and we still owe Gordon and Diego a HUGE thanks for making it all happen!

Dominican

 

This year is our 4th trip to the Dominican Republic. Since our first project, we have:

Sent 25 volunteers

Offered 3 courses

Trained 120 people

Certified 64 lifeguards

Saved 574 lives through rescues, preventative action, and medical aids.

 

I can’t wait for our 4th trip! Our team arrives Tuesday in the Dominican Republic! Stay posted for updates!

 

-Will Koon, Vice President of Operations

Will

 

Education, Prevention, and Intervention

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by raquel No Comments

Get to know our volunteer, Andrew Douglas!

He joined us on our international lifeguard exchange to Chile!  And he’s a senior at Clemson University in South Carolina, majoring in Marketing and Spanish & International Trade.

Andrew

What is your favorite beach in the world? 

I have been to many beaches. None compare to the clean water and white sand in Ocean City, especially considering all that there is to do in the town. Everyone takes a lot of pride in the beach to keep it clean and beautiful. Long Beach Island, NJ will always be one of my favorite beaches because that is where I went every summer as a kid with my family.

I really enjoyed my time in Chile with ISLA because it was the first time I ever got to go in the Pacific Ocean. The geography of the beaches in Chile are much different because they are more mountainous. The beaches I am used to are barrier islands.

When did you start lifeguarding? 

I was always a pool rat over the summer as I grew up. I knew I wanted to best summer job around as soon as I was old enough. I began lifeguarding at my local pool, where I worked for four years. One of my best friends and coworkers decided to do Beach Patrol one summer. When I visited him, there was no doubt that I was going to join him in Ocean City the next year.

How did you first get started with ISLA?

The same friend, Colin, found out about ISLA. We planned on doing a trip together, but he decided to continue his work with Students Helping Honduras. I was still interested, so I looked into the trip to Chile.

What interested you most about ISLA?

It was a unique experience to travel, to lifeguard, and to practice Spanish.

Chile

What is the best beach food?

In Ocean City:

Breakfast: Fractured Prune (28th Street)

Lunch: Belly Busters (45th Street)

Dinner: Macky’s (54th Street)

Favorite beach music?

I usually sing to myself in the stand (anything and everything that pops into my head). Batteries for my radio were too expensive. However, I used to stand up and dance with the guards to my north and south every time Call Me Maybe came on the radio 

Hobbies?

Sports, Working out, TV series, School, Traveling

Favorite Book?

Adventures of Huck Finn

Favorite Music?

Dave Matthews Band

Sports?

Baseball and Water Polo

Favorite thing about lifeguarding?

I love the responsibility. I was in a position of authority on the beach at age 19. People really look up to the lifeguards, and they are very appreciative for everything we do. A bonus would be the blonde hair that all my friends at school think is fake when I return after a full summer.

ANDREW

Favorite piece of rescue equipment? 

Buoy. It is basically the only thing we use. It also makes me feel like I am on Baywatch.

How will you continue to prevent drowning?

At OCBP, our mission is Education, Prevention, and Intervention. Ideally, we would never have to intervene. I believe in this mission, and I will practice it throughout my life.

I believe that someday, our public school system should teach kids how to swim. This would be costly and time consuming, but I think it is important. An easier option would be to simply teach kids about the ocean (since many learn to swim outside of school). This could be done with the Physical Education and Science teachers teaming up. This knowledge is essential. Just because you know how to swim does not mean you know how to swim in the ocean. Since I started working at the beach, it has become very obvious and scary to see how many people do not know what they are doing. That is why we educate in Ocean City, but we can only reach a limited audience.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Creature of Routine

 

Want to join our team?

isla

We’re looking to add more people to our volunteer team. Are you someone with the desire to travel the world? Someone passionate about helping others? Are you interested in volunteering for an organization that changes the lives of thousands of people around the world?

Apply to join our team of Global Lifeguards and our job opportunities!

Just Add Water! You can’t Have a Drowning Prevention 5K Without it!

Posted on: March 19th, 2014 by islasurforg No Comments

Drowning-Prevention-5K-Starting-Line
Drowning is the leading cause of preventable cause of death. While drowning does not seem prevalent in our community due to our skilled lifeguarding system, drowning does happen more often than you would think. The World Health Organization estimates that over 400,000 deaths around the globe occur annually due to drowning.

This is where ISLA newest event, The Drowning Prevention 5K comes into play. ISLA, International Surf Lifesaving Association, strives to prevent drowning around the world by traveling to countries that are in desperate need of a lifesaving development services. From Central America to Eastern Europe, ISLA has making a positive impact on the world. In effort to share our mission and gain support from the community, we decided to host a 5k walk to unite our local community by teaching them about the importance of drowning prevention in a way that gets them motivated to make a difference.

What you didn’t know was that ISLA had some help from a local HB Jr. Lifeguard & Girl Scout by the by the name of Tatum Guerrero, who decided that she wanted to create this event as her Gold Award service project. Here’s her story:

Tatum Guerro

Tatum (left) with her friend Zoe passing out race jerseys.


How did you get involved with ISLA?

I first heard about ISLA when I was about 14 years old during a lecture in the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard program. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to support their cause. As an avid surfer and junior lifeguard participant, drowning has always been a huge issue to me. I knew getting involved with ISLA was the best way to fuel a passion of mine, so that is when I decided to work with for them for my Girl Scout Gold Award Project.

Why did you chose a 5k for your Gold Award Project?

To me, a 5k was the perfect way to get the community connected with ISLA. What could be better then walking for a good cause and a fun expo at the finish line? In addition, we had a game provided by my Girl Scout troop that informed the public about the drastic statistics on global drowning. Educating the public while encouraging them to become active was going to have a more significant impact on community support than just a workshop or lecture.

Who else was involved in organizing the 5K?

The entire ISLA team played a HUGE part with reaching out to our partnering organizations (Project Wipeout & Huntington Beach Surf Lifesaving Association) and sponsors, getting supplies, and promoting this walk. Not only was my Girl Scout troop involved in the planning but my sister’s troop, Cadette Troop 826, helped set up the water station. Students from the Huntington Beach High School Surf team, Volleyball team, Softball team, and Wrestling team all came to help set-up and assist with the run. Also, my high school friends helped spread the word to their friends and family. One of my friends even designed the logo for the event.

How were you able to support ISLA in getting sponsors?

Since I could not personally obtain sponsorships for ISLA due to Girl Scout policy, I shared ISLA’s sponsorship forms within my social network and connected them directly with ISLA. ISLA was able to secure sponsorships from Huntington Beach Hospital, Huntington Beach Reality, Xyience Energy Drinks, Dukes and Sandy’s Restaurants, Yoga Works, Quiksilver, Chick-fil-a, Core Power Yoga, Wahoos fish tacos and more.

What were your thoughts when you first heard it was going to rain the day of the 5K?

My first thought was, “NO!” I was so bummed when I heard it was going to rain. Three days before the event we had 75 degree weather with bright sun. My biggest concern was that the rain was going to inhibit the walk from being as successful as it could be. Despite the rain, the walk went great! This is just another example that you can do anything, no matter what the conditions are, if you just stay positive.

What was the race day like?

At first, it was a little hectic due to the rainstorm. The start/finish banner ripped, the course became flooded, and we had to shut down registration to protect the computers. Once the rain stopped, we rapidly cleaned up the course and set back up. From then on, everything ran smoothly. We didn’t experience more rain until we finished the clean up. Registration was unbelieveable! I was amazed by how many people not only braved the weather and showed up to check-in but also registered on the day of the race. Once the race started, I felt a huge relief. The rest of the event went as planned and I could not have asked for a better day for the inaugural run.

Drowning-Prevention-Race
How many people participated in the event?

We had about 85 people register prior to the event and about 20 more sign-up on the day of the event which would totaled just over 100 participants and about 40 volunteers.

What did you learn?

I learned that 3 gallons of rainwater poured on top of your head from a collapsing canopy really wakes you up! In all seriousness, I learned how to properly plan an event, from brainstorming ideas to the first planning stages of filling out applications for approval to finalizing event details. Planning this event also taught me how to prioritize and get organized! Being more organized with my time and “to-do’s” made planning a lot less stressful. I also learned how to be more flexible and open to new ideas, how to work with people, and how to solve problems. Most importantly, this opportunity taught me how to be a more confident leader.

What are you going to do next?

I hope to continue volunteering for ISLA and to help them with future projects. I will be graduating from Huntington Beach High School this year and I am looking forward to attending college in the fall. I plan on being involved in community service projects throughout college. I desire to make the world a better in as many ways as possible. I also hope that the Drowning Prevention 5K continues to grow and engage community so everyone can practice how to be safe, in and out of the water, and to raise support for the ISLA cause so they can continue making a global impact.

ISLA on the KIIS FM Radio Station!

Posted on: March 14th, 2014 by raquel No Comments

On February 12, 2014, myself (Jeff Hart) along with Henry Reyes and Jenalea Cree got to go to 102.7  Kiss FM Radio Station and be interviewed about ISLA.

KIIS FM

 

The experience to go to the Radio Station was pretty amazing.  I have never been on the radio before so I was  a little nervous when I was pulling up to the building.  I got there super early and seeing all the different radio stations there was very intimidating. I knew though once we started the interview, everything would go great because I was talking about something that I am so passionate about.

KIIS FM

I have traveled with ISLA before to the Dominican Republic and it was such a great experience to be part of this organization as well as share my experiences with the public over the radio.  I am a full time Lifeguard for the County and love to share the knowledge that I learned over the years with both the public on the radio as well as others in the areas that ISLA travels to.  The interview went very smooth and the DJ Chewy Martinez made it feel like it was just a conversation with him.  The microphones didn’t even seem like they were there.  After we left, they sent us the times of when the interview was going to air.  I actually woke up early to listen to it, as well as listen to it again at work.  I also recorded it so I could let my fiancé listen to it later that night.  It was a great experience to be part of and i am honored to be a part of ISLA as well as send out a message of something I believe in so much.

Check out our interview!

-Jeff Hart

 

 

Product Review: Original Watermen Super Stretch Boardshorts

Posted on: March 4th, 2014 by islasurforg No Comments

Original-Watermen-Super-Stretch-Boardshorts
The uniform for a lifeguard is simple: boardshorts and sandals. With that, the boardshorts we choose should be designed with lifeguards in mind because it is the main uniform item we require. The Super Stretch boardshorts by Original Watermen were designed with working water professionals in mind and the result is a great pair of boardshorts to work in.

As the name implies, these boardshorts are super stretchy. During rescues and workouts in Chile and in California, I never once felt the limit of the stretch in these boardshorts. They can handle stretching into any position that I found myself in bodysurfing, paddling and running. The super stretch material also dries extremely fast. On my latest ISLA trip in South America, I would come back from a rescue, towel dry, and the shorts will be bone dry within 20 minutes; That’s ridiculously fast!

The shorts also have minimal seems that are all very low profile. While this may seem like an aesthetic quality, it does directly relate to performance in that minimal seems with less bulk translate to no rashes and a more comfortable all-day wear.

There is one right side pocket that is big enough to hold your radio or pocket mask that has Velcro closure. Like everything else with these shorts, minimalist is the key. The Velcro is thin and not the full length of the pocket, this makes the pocket hardly noticeable when not in use and doesn’t leave you with a wet Velcro pocket all day.

Most importantly for all the lifeguard bums trying to save some money: these shorts are durable! I have yet to rip a pair despite paddling and working around boats and rocks in Chile. The shorts also hold color really well so you wont have to buy a new pair because your red trunks are fading to pink.

Overall: ★ ★ ★ ★
Price: $54.00 (as low as $29.00 with bulk pricing)
Durability: A
Performance: A
Fit/Cut: B+
Style/Swagger: A
Comfort: A
Price/Value: B+
Contact: www.orginalwatermen.com

Final Word: Extremely durable, quick drying, and comfortable with minimal seems to prevent rashes. A bit more expensive than some shorts, but it does pay itself back in durability.

-Kevin Craig