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
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,
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
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
Janiyah was a little
fearful at first, but by the end of the week, she had gained a lot of confidence,
“She was excited,” she
said. “We drove past Milford Lake, and now she thinks she’s going to swim in
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.