The award-winning ZAC Camps are back! After two years of COVID and its subsequent pool closures, we are excited to be hosting our first water safety camps from August 1st – August 4th, 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing heat waves all over the country have exacerbated the need for both lifeguards and water safety training on a local level. ZAC Camps are held in partnership with local organizations, including Boys & Girls Clubs, American Red Cross, YMCA’s, and first responders in local communities. This year, we are excited to continue our partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Stamford and bring water safety lessons to 110 children in the Stamford, CT community.

Our award-winning 4-day-long 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. At ZAC Camps, we 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.

In the last decade, ZAC Camps have taught life-saving water safety skills to more than 20,000 children in at-risk communities nationwide, yet there is still much work left to do. The string of drownings following pool re-openings and this year’s heat waves invite us all to participate and think about how we can contribute to drowning prevention efforts in our communities. We invite parents to encourage their teens to become lifeguards, and will continue on with our work building a National Drowning Prevention Plan.

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

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 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 making sure that the barriers are in place.

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 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.

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.
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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.
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~4000
people drown each year

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