Featured Volunteer: Grace Hamilton
Meet ISLA’s volunteer global lifeguard, Grace Hamilton. She joined ISLA for our Chiliean Lifeguard Exchange. Read more about her and her ISLA Experience, “This experience is paid in sunsets and unforgettable friendships that money can’t buy!”
When did you start lifeguarding?
I have been an ocean lifeguard for 5 years with the Australian Lifeguard Service. I also work for Australian Training Consultancy as a Trainer and Assessor for first aid and work at a beautiful gym and yoga centre Heart and Soul Health Clubs.
I began lifeguarding in 2010 for the AUSTRALIAN lifeguard Service and was situated at my home beach breaks across the Tweed Shire for three years. I then moved to Byron Bay where I have been lifeguarding in the Byron shire for the past 2 years as. I have been offered opportunities to lifeguard in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia but unfortunately have been at busy times and was unable to attend. In 2015 I was lucky enough to join the International Surf Lifesaving Association on an experience of a lifetime to adventure to Chile, South America. There myself and 3 other guards from around the world put our lifeguard skills to use.
How did you first get started with ISLA?
The Chile Lifeguard program for me was a very last minute decision. Initially I was thinking of heading over to Japan to snowboard with some friends for my uni break, but at last minute decided I’d like to put my time to a bit more use and began researching volunteer programs. When I came across the Isla website and read up on the chile exchange program i thought how unreal it would be to get on board something like this. I applied straight away, thinking it was a long shot and wouldn’t hear back from them. A few days later I was out surfing and came back to a few missed calls from an international number. I couldn’t believe it Isla got back to me I was accepted. Without hesitation I accepted and in less then a month later I was on the other side of the Pacific Ocean lifeguarding and surfing.
What was the ISLA Experience for you?
I didn’t really know what to expect on my adventure over to Chile, I hadn’t know many people from Australia that had visited the country nor did I have much time to prepare myself for it. All I can say is that now I’m home and have finished the program I do not regret one minute of it, I didn’t know anyone before I went over there now the once strangers have become close friends.
Some places I had only dreamed of to surf I was able to tick off my bucket list and the entire program was unbelievably a lot better then I could of imagined, visiting snow covered volcanic mountains in Patagonia, blue lagoons amongst the forests, white water rafting, jet ski training, skipping past the popular over crowded hot springs to the locals hot springs a little higher into the mountains, meeting many like minded surfers who’s passion is just to enjoy every spare moment in the salty sea yet are all individually driven towards success. The Isla Chile program 2015 was a 10/10 and It sure won’t be my last program with Isla.
From being in Chile and living in the lifeguard house in Tongoy as well as meeting many other Chileans I learnt that people can have so little yet give so much. My favourite saying was one that a lifeguard in tongoy told me ‘ we are paid in sunsets!
What do you do outside of lifeguarding?
I am currently approaching my third year studying nutrition and complimentary medicine at Southern Cross University. As well as holding over 30+ awards involving first aid or rescue techniques.
What are your interests?
My interests include the ocean and its beauty, the untouched presence of nature and education that promotes an overall well-being.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies include surfing, nutrition, scuba diving and the occasional Sunday session with my friends whether it’s having a BBQ on the beach or adventuring to listen to some live bands.
What are your goals?
My goals in life is to simply just be the best person I can be and not waste time waiting around for something to happen. I’m pretty happy with my pathway in life at the moment. Studying what I love for a lifestyle choice and not so much a career path but if that’s how it works out I’ll be pleased with the out come also.
What is your favorite…?
My favourite colour is purple. Jack Johnson is my favorite beach music but I like to listen to a wide variety of music anywhere from Chet Faker, Blink 182 to Van Morrison. My favorite beach food is watermelon and grapes. I enjoy all types of sport, I’ve played a lot of field hockey and competed in surf life saving for many years as well as a couple fun surfing comps.
What is your favorite beach?
My favourite beach in the world would have to be between dreamtime at Fingal NSW or Broken Head NSW although Punta De Lobos, Chile was a real eye opener too and has to be up there.
What is your favorite rescue equipment?
The rescue board, it is effective in making quick and efficient rescued both at a distance off shore and in the break zone plus when I get some free time it’s always fun to go catch some waves on my lunch break.
What is your hope for drowning prevention?
Drowning is a major issue across the world, . The prevention of drownings is not going to happen over night nor is just one person going to put an end to it.Through education and the building of skills worldwide i hope that around the world people can come together and collaborate ideas just like we did in Chile.