In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) we are taught that it is the obligation of parents to teach their children how to swim. Thousands of years later this life skill is still a priority for parents. Many parents fulfil this obligation by relying on camp to provide professional swim instruction and teach their children this lifelong and life saving skill.
The Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds prides itself on providing the best swim experiences possible. We operate and maintain an aquatics complex at each of our three sites (for a total of 11 pools), and coordinate the swim program for all the agency day camps. While the goals of water safety and learning to swim are the same at all of our sites, each location is unique.
Our Pearl River site follows the America Red Cross Learn to Swim Program. Over 3000 children learn to swim each summer from a pool staff that consists of eighteen water safety instructors and over 60 lifeguards. Here, the American Red Cross program is divided into sub categories allowing the campers to feel more success in smaller increments. Lyndsey O’Hare, pool director, stresses the importance of insuring that all children can stay calm and get themselves to the side of the pool if they were to accidentally fall in.
The Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy is the swim program used in Staten Island. The mission of the swim academy is to teach and inspire children to be water safe. The program uses the SwimRight philosophy of swim – float – swim. Aquatics director, Vanissa Piselli, emphasizes that at the youngest level if a child falls in she knows how to float on her back, recuperate from the fall, take a breath, and if able, then swim to the side of the pool.
Long Island is home to our largest swim program with four pools and over 4000 campers learning to swim using the American Red Cross method. Veteran aquatics director of 19 years, Dan Bilawski, cannot emphasize to his staff enough that safety is the most important aspect of working at the pool. His philosophy is “Safety, Instruction, and Fun”.
At all of our sites the swimming day is broken down into instructional and recreational swim. At some camps, campers swim twice a day with one period of instructional swim and one of “free” swim. At others they have one longer period divided into instructional and free swim.
And on those extremely hot days, when the coolest thing of all is to be in the water, our aquatics directors make every effort to give the campers as much swim time as possible. However you slice it, swim time is one of the highlights of every camper’s day.
As the old camp song goes, “Swimming, swimming in the swimming pool, when days are hot, when days are cold in the swimming pool.” Swimming is serious business for parents and for us at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds. For the campers, IT IS JUST PLAIN FUN!