Regular inspections by certified team ensure kids of all ages play safely

A special, award-winning Parks Division team certified as Playground Safety Inspectors by the National Playground Safety Institute of the National Recreation and Parks Association has the challenging job of inspecting 154 playgrounds at 101 park sites each year. This unique group is re-certified by the National Recreation and Parks Association every three years.

DSCF0311What are they looking for? Sharp edges and protruding bolt ends, loose bolts, worn parts, broken or missing rails, steps, rungs or seats–to name only a few safety hazards. Aesthetics are also thoroughly evaluated. Necessary repairs are documented and often made on the spot. And this team works efficiently:  they closely examine older or damaged equipment that’s been removed from our parks and recycle parts that are still in good working order. New playgrounds are costly, yet many of our popular sites average 18-20 years in age thanks to the efforts of this specialized crew.

“The playground equipment is always in good condition and the play areas are always clean!” said an appreciative park patron.

This same valuable and skilled team of inspectors also conduct regular inspections of our fitness trails and the Skate Park at West Boynton Park. The special reward for this important Safety Inspection Team is the opportunity to see kids playing and having fun–safely.

Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue: Lifesaving and Marine Safety for 46 Years

One hundred and six certified Ocean Rescue lifeguards provide drowning prevention, rescue, and emergency medical services at fourteen scenic, world-renowned oceanfront and inlet beach parks. The waters along our shores are dynamic as well as beautiful, and rapidly changing conditions call for unique training, specialized skills, and considerable athletic ability.

Rip currents pose a hidden danger here in South Florida. Local swimmers are grateful for the proven skills of Ocean Rescue Lifeguards such as Chase Robertson.

To be considered for an Ocean Rescue Lifeguard position, applicants are required to have a current American Red Cross Lifeguard and CPR/AED certificate. Applicants also participate in a run-swim-run test and are tested on their rescue and medical skills. Only then are they formally interviewed and considered for an Ocean Lifeguard position.

Many lifeguards are also SCUBA certified, licensed boat captains, and certified boat operators for rescue boats or Rescue Water Crafts (RWC).

New recruits are required to participate in an 80-hour Ocean Rescue Trainee Academy. The Academy introduces new lifeguards to vigorous and stringent Palm Beach County policies, procedures, rescue techniques, and patient care protocols. Academy graduates become certified as Emergency Medical Response Workers (EMR), training that surpasses the requirements of American Red Cross Lifeguard certification. Members of our Ocean Rescue staff are uniquely qualified and authorized to provide this important EMR training through an agreement, renewed this past year, with the State of Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Emergency Medical Services.

Palm Beach County’s Ocean Rescue team is of the highest professional caliber. It is well worth noting that the majority of our team are certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT), a step above EMR certification. Ocean Rescue lifeguards have reached over 9,000 participants a year in their public education events.

As a United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) Certified Agency, our Ocean Rescue team members are also authorized to provide training for individual Palm Beach County Open Water Lifeguard certification.

“Ocean Rescue is about team unity,” says North County District Supervisor Julia Leo with pride. “The lifeguards train hard to work seamlessly together in life and death situations—they’re always focused on public safety and the welfare of our park patrons. It’s a great feeling when tragedy is averted and a life is saved because everyone worked together as a team.”

“Ocean Rescue has evolved and grown to keep pace with its rapidly changing environment,” agreed Ocean Rescue Captain Rick Welch. “Each of us brings his or her strengths to create a really exceptional public safety team. I’m privileged to be a part of it.”

“I hope this camp is around when I have kids!”

“I hope this camp is around when I have kids!” wrote a teen. Summer Camp went so smoothly this summer, reported Recreation Programs Coordinator Adrienne Huisman. “We had new staff who brought in new energy, and we had returning staff who brought structure, stability, and routine.”

Summer Camp ended with a Tea Party at Westgate Recreation Center. Who had more fun—campers or parents? We couldn’t tell!

What do we say to a disappointed 15-year-old who is aging out of summer teen camp?
If they’re responsible kids who consistently support fellow campers and their counselors, we invite them to consider applying for our volunteer Jr. Internship program.

“Our Jr. Interns add a sparkle to camp with their youthful energy and desire to learn,” says Huisman. They provide a positive role model that is in between the age of campers and the counselors, so Jr. Interns are expected to meet the highest standards of behavior and character.

Jr. Internships are win-win. This unpaid position is often a teen’s first real job experience, and it counts towards the service hours now required by most schools for graduation. Interested teens are expected to complete their applications and will experience formal interviews. Once selected, Jr. Interns provide camp counselors with much needed supervisory backup and help with errands, such as picking up the camp shirt that was left behind or grabbing the lunch the camper forgot. Jr. Interns also receive coaching from their counselors and, by the end of the summer, will have planned and implemented a recreation module for campers. And it’s a logical progression:  the successful and experienced Jr. Intern is encouraged to apply and interview for a paid position as a Summer Camp Counselor.

Jr. Intern Hannah Tannone

Jr. Intern Hannah Tannone assisted Adrienne Huisman with paperwork and a variety of projects throughout the summer. She also planned and implemented a volleyball module for campers. She’s been attending summer camps operated by Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation since she was 7.

Jr. Interns Courtney Robinson and Andelina Noel

Courtney Robinson and Andelina Noel were Jr. Interns at West Boynton Recreation Center. “Every single day I come here there are favorite moments,” declared Andelina who hopes to one day become a pediatrician. Both really enjoyed interacting with the campers. She and Courtney found the staff training helpful that was provided before the summer got underway. “They told us how to help kids with ADHD and that training really worked. We had some kids like that and we used the techniques they taught us. It really worked—it was just amazing!”

Jr. Interns Amanda Teague and Amelia Newell

Amanda Teague and Amelia Newell, Jr. Interns at West Jupiter Recreation Center, assisted with camper supervision and ran errands for camp counselors. They also assisted with the planning of a talent show for parents. They designed the set, handled cue cards, and emceed the special show that starred campers and counselors. “This camp is not just a camp,” insists Amanda. “It’s family.”

Faris Matthews has been participating in programs at Westgate Recreation Center since he was in 3rd grade. This summer, as a Jr. Intern, he was able to step in and coach basketball when the need unexpectedly arose. “I just try to help the kids be more than what people see them as,” he explained. “I want them to have a place where they can be themselves and don’t have to worry about anything.” Not surprisingly, his team took Second Place.