Meet Huntington State Beach Lifeguard & ISLA Volunteer Leo Oorts

ISLA Lifeguard Leo Oorts

Leo during Dominican Republic’s Certification Ceremony with ISLA.

Leo with a recent ISLA-certified lifeguard in the Dominican Republic

Leo (far left) with ISLA’s Dominican Republic Instructors.
Leo Oorts, a 26 year old from Long Beach, CA, has been a volunteer with ISLA since 2011 when he attended his first trip to the Dominican Republic in 2011. An avid traveler, Leo would like to continue traveling throughout Latin America, including countries that he have not been to, such as Columbia and Venezuela. He enjoys spending his days with his friends and family, and volunteering with ISLA. Leo shared with us his experiences volunteering with ISLA.

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.

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