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Base Kodiak MWR to host water safety camp for kids

Surfer's Beach, at the southern end of Kodiak's road system, is a popular spot for camping and aquatic recreation.
Surfer's Beach, at the southern end of Kodiak's road system, is a popular spot for camping and aquatic recreation, June 16, 2024.

Water-based recreation is a popular pastime along the Kodiak Archipelago’s countless beaches, lakes, and rivers.

That’s why the Coast Guard’s Base Kodiak MWR, or Morale, Wellness, and Recreation, is planning a free water safety camp for the archipelago’s kids.

“It’s a four-day camp and it’s an event where kids between the ages of 5 and 10 – they’ll rotate daily through three different modules,” said Krystal Kenshalo, the organization’s programs chief.

She said kids will learn about water safety. Things like: why life jackets are important, and how falling in colder or warmer water affects their bodies. Children will also hear from first responders about water safety.

About half the spots are already filled as of June 18, but trainers can take on another 60 kids. While the camp is being held on base, it’s not exclusive to Coast Guard kids.

“We’ll have buses that will run from the high school picking kids up at 12:30, and then returning them – dropping them off – around 4:30, dependent on how long it takes to load kids onto the bus at the end of the event,” Kenshalo said. “So families, if they don’t already have base access, or they live in town and they don't want to have to drive to base, they can just put their kiddos on the bus.”

The camp is also free to the public and organized through a grant from the ZAC Foundation, which hosts water safety camps across the country. The foundation was established by Karen and Brian Cohn, who named it for their son, Zachary, who died in a pool accident.

Kenshalo said they’ll even pay for kids from surrounding villages to stay on the road system for the duration of the camp.

“That was something the ZAC foundation was really interested in – the fact that we weren’t just focusing on our local military community – that we really wanted to make sure that this was something that was open to the entire community,” she said. “And not even just our road system community, but our expanded community with all of our villages.”

Kenshalo said she wants it to become a regular event, but they need to fill as many spots as possible to improve their chances for future funding.

“We know that our families are very busy in the summertime, however, the more kids we have sign up, the more we’re able to show that this is a legitimate need in our community and the better chance we have of getting the ZAC foundation to give us a grant again in the future,” she said.

Registration is available online and is open until June 28. The water safety and swim camp runs from July 22 through 25.