Counselors train for cold water survival ahead of launching rural summer camps

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Working toward a safer summer, ahead of launching camps across the state, counselors completed cold water training Friday.

“Many of the places you go, there will be people who have known someone that drowned,” Kelli Toth with the Office of Boating Safety told a classroom full of Campfire Alaska counselors eager to lead summer programs in rural Alaska.

“We are responsive to community needs,” Melanie Hooper, Manager of rural and school age programs at Campfire Alaska said. “This program is constantly evolving, and we've been hearing that we want you to come teach our kids swimming and cold water survival safety and boating safety.”

Counselors participated in a two-part lesson. The first involved a lifejacket fashion show, detailing the differences in styles and how some cuts are better for certain recreational activities above others.

Then it was off to the pool at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s campus to practice real life scenarios, which included swimming a distance to safety in fishing gear, recovering a tipped canoe, and even completing a man overboard rescue.

“A lot of people get around Alaska via boat and we also have commercial fishing, subsistence, and surviving with fishing,” Erica Conway with Campfire Alaska said about taking the skills learned during the drill to teach young Alaskans at camp programs. “We have to stay safe and we want to keep our kids afloat.”

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