Fort Riley, Kansas



ZAC Camp teaches kids life-saving skills

By Julie Fiedler | 1ST INF. DIV. POST | July 11, 2014

While children giggled and splashed as they practiced plunging underwater and floating on their backs, a few children stood off to the side looking apprehensive. It was June 17 – the first day of ZAC Camp – and children enrolled with Child, Youth and School Services were just getting their feet wet in the weeklong course on water safety at Custer Hill Pool.

Jayden Burris, 6, was one of those children by the side of the pool that first day.

“He refused to get in the water,” said Jayden’s mother, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lakisha Singleton, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “He is a little shy around water, and this was his first time learning what water safety is.”

It took some coaxing, but within days, Jayden’s confidence grew, and he finally took the plunge.

He said that was his favorite part of the week – jumping in the pool.

“He learned how to float. He came home and taught mom all about the ABCDs because mom didn’t know. He explained each one to me, and he explained how to float on your back,” Singleton said, adding had it not been for the ZAC Foundation, she would not have known to teach her son some of those water safety lessons.

ZAC Camp was named in honor of 6-year-old Zachary Archer Cohn, who drowned as a result of being entrapped by the suction of a swimming pool drain.

Zach’s parents, Karen and Brian Cohn, created the ZAC Foundation to educate children about water safety in hopes of saving other lives. ZAC Camp is part of a national initiative by The ZAC Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to bring lifesaving water-safety skills to thousands of children, 5 to 9 years, across the country.

The curriculum includes swimming lessons, safety classes and the ABC and Ds of water safety based on a children’s book by Zachary’s parents called, “The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim.”

Jayden recited the ABC and Ds of swimming.

“A is for adults. B is for barriers. C is for classes. And D is for drains,” he said, listing off the key lessons.

Singleton said it gave her peace of mind to know her son had learned about water safety during the camp.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Antoinette Foster, whose granddaughter, Janiyah George, 7, also attended the camp, agreed.

Janiyah was a little fearful at first, but by the end of the week, she had gained a lot of confidence, Foster said.

“She was excited,” she said. “We drove past Milford Lake, and now she thinks she’s going to swim in that water.”

At the end of the week, the children participated in a graduation ceremony and received ZAC Camp medals from Garrison Commander Col. Andrew Cole and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Travis Ericson, operations company, Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Inf. Div.

“Over the course of this week, your children have learned much about water safety. I applaud you for allowing them to do that, but I ask you not to let it end there,” Ericson said. “Learn what they have been taught this past week and reinforce the importance of those lessons to them.”

While several children said they had fun at camp, it wasn’t always easy.

“These kids worked hard this week on water safety,” said Rosalind Wesley, administrator, CYSS. “This was a successful week because of the parents – because of the children right here.”

Wesley also credited the camp’s success to the collaborative effort between organizations, such as CYSS and the Aquatics program of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the Garrison Safety Office and the Directorate of Emergency Services.
Tag Family   Tag Water Safety