children smiling in front of a pool while attending a ZAC Camp

ZAC Camps

children smiling in front of a pool while attending a ZAC Camp

The award-winning ZAC Camps, named in honor of 6-year-old Zachary Archer Cohn, teach children ages 5-9 valuable information to keep them safe in any body of water.

ZAC Camps are held in partnership with local organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs, American Red Cross, YMCA’s, and first responders in local communities. Over the past decade, ZAC Camps have taught life-saving water safety skills to more than 20,000 children in at-risk communities nationwide.

The 4-day-long ZAC Camps use primary education stations — classroom activities, in-water swimming instruction, and first responder interaction – to reinforce essential safety lessons so both children and their parents learn to enjoy the water safely while understanding avoidable risks. 

a child learning to swim with a ZAC Camp instructor

A key component of the ZAC Camps is learning the importance of following the A, B, C, & Ds of water safety:

A for Adult Supervision

A is for Adult

Children should never have access to any form of water without an adult who has eye-to-eye contact with them.

B for Barriers

B is for Barrier

Barriers, like fences and gates, should restrict children’s access to all forms of water. Children need to know how important barriers are and their role in keeping children safe.

C for Classes

C is for Classes

At the appropriate age, children need to take swimming lessons. Each family should discuss this with their pediatrician to decide when their child is ready for swimming lessons.

D for Drains

D is for Drains and Device safety

Pool drains are dangerous to all swimmers. Children should never swim near pool or hot tub drains. Children should be taught to tell an adult if they see a broken or loose drain cover and should NOT return to the pool until the drain cover has been replaced. Additionally, everyone should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket on open water.

cover of The Polar Bear Who Couldn't, Wouldn't Swim children's book

In addition to swim lessons and safety classes with first responders, ZAC Camp participants learn the fundamentals of water safety from a fun and engaging classroom curriculum based on “The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim,” a children’s book written by ZAC Foundation Co-Founders Karen and Brian Cohn. The story follows the journey of a young polar bear named Zeke who is afraid of the water and refuses to swim. He leaves his home in search of other animals who do not swim, and ends up finding that he can enjoy the water if he follows the A, B, C, & Ds of water safety.

We have created a few activity sheets for different age groups so children can reinforce core water safety messages and the ABCDs. While they are based on “The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim,” you don’t need to read the book in order to complete and color these mazes, puzzles, etc.

first page of the ZAC Camp curriculum activity book

people drown each year

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