The ISLA Experience: Lauren Badenhoop
Tell us about yourself.
Well…I am creative and love to explore new things, I crave adventure, and I love traveling and seeing how others live in different parts of the world.I became Nationally Certified EMT in the spring of 2013. Now, I am working on getting my Associates of Arts, then majoring in Advertising Management and minoring in Graphic Design.
Tell us about some of your goals.
My short-term goals are to get more involved with drowning prevention, train hard for lifeguard competition season, and get my AA in the next two years. My long-term goals are to attain my Advertising Management degree, have a job that I can travel with, see more of the world and it’s variety of cultures, and of course… be happy and healthy.
I like long walks on the beach, training for lifeguard comps, traveling, swimming, surfing, hiking, painting, taking pictures, watching the sunset, and hanging out in a hammock.
- My favorite music genre would be Indie Rock. Surfer Blood, Alt-J, and, The Kooks are my top 3 favorite bands right now.
- My favorite color is the color of the sky right before the sun dips below the horizon.
- I’m not much of a ESPN girl, but I do love watching the Nutrigrain Ironman races!
- I love pizza, tacos, chips and salsa, and steak. I almost devoured an entire pizza to myself when I came back from Nicaragua.
- Quotes I like- “I want to travel across the world and breathe the air of new places.” “I must be a mermaid. I have no fear of depths &; a great fear of shallow living”
- My favorite beach in the world is Popoyo in Nica. I felt like I could live there forever, it was so beautiful.
What inspires you?
Smiles, laughs, raised eyebrows, and questions, inspire me. I am inspired to travel, so I can educate and learn.
Where have you worked as a lifeguard?
I’ve lifeguarded in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua; and Jacksonville Beach, FL. I just got back from Nicaragua. I had an unforgettable time working with ISLA and Lifeguards Without Borders! We went up to northern Nicaragua to a small beach near Leon.
What was your experience like in Nicaragua?
Every morning at 6 am we would train with them for an hour, showing them new stretches and workouts, got them all out in the water and comfortable with the waves. Then our group would split into pairs, and go to 1 of the 4 towers to guard along side the Cruz Roja Nicaragüense, 9am-5pm. We showed them how to whistle their new Storm Whistles, body surf, dolphin dive, and got to hear their stories of rescues and past Semana Santa’s.
It was such a great experience and really opened my eyes to what is going on in other parts of the world. They were so appreciative when we donated our equipment. I think we all “got something in our eye” after seeing the huge smiles on their faces. I couldn’t have asked for better people to spend such a life changing moment with. Our group was full of funny, smart, and caring people that I know will be life long friends. I can’t thank ISLA and LWB enough for the experience, it has truly changed me.
What I loved most about volunteering for ISLA…
Was the look on the Cruz Roja Nicaragüense faces after handing them their new equipment. Volunteering on this trip has been the biggest life changer for me. Getting to see the culture, meeting and getting to know the people, and working with such great guards that will be “mi familia” for the rest of my life was an experience of a lifetime. I am so thankful to have been chosen.
I Started Lifeguarding…
In the winter of 2012, I became a lifeguard with the American Red Cross Volunteer Lifesaving Corps. I became a lifeguard because I have always had love and respect for the ocean. I had just left school and thought a 12 week recruit class would be a positive challenge for me to do. My class started with 76 people, but after 12 exhausting weeks of rigorous training only 22 got in (the largest to have ever gotten in in 100 yrs). The ARCVLSC has been around for 100+ years, and we volunteer every Sunday and holidays. After joining the ARCVLSC, I became a Jax Beach Ocean Rescue lifeguard and have been working with both organizations ever since.
I am a lifeguard because…
I want to keep beachgoers safe and educated, having the ocean as my gym, and to be apart of such a great organization. I love waking up and going to work everyday, not many people can say that.
I I heard about ISLA…
through Lifeguards Without Borders. They posted a link about the Nica and the Dominican Republic projects that were coming up, so I checked it out and was hooked! Like LWB, ISLA does something unique. Going to other countries and training guards on ways to prevent drowning is not a simple task, but it really pays off and is a great thing.
Outside of volunteering for ISLA…
I compete in lifeguard competitions local, regional, and national with Jax Beach Competition Team. I also work with Lifeguards Without Borders to share information on drowning prevention, so we can reduce the global burden of drowning. I volunteer with the ARCVLSC on Sundays and Holidays.
What is your favorite piece of rescue equipment?
The paddleboard, hands down! I have had multiple rescues while either out surfing on one, or taking it off the truck. It’s my favorite event in competitions, in fact my teammate, Eva, and I are 5th in the nation for board rescue!
I will continue to prevent drowning by…
Working with organizations like ISLA and LWB, reading and sharing articles on prevention, and traveling. I hope that someday learning to swim is looked at like learning to walk, or talk. Its that important.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Adventurous, Happy, Mermaid.