How We Swim: 2021

Stan Wilson February 25, 2021

Rockmont enjoys a spectacular and beautiful waterfront!

Our 20-acre lake, fed by fresh mountain streams at the base of the Asheville watershed, is the focal center of our whole camp. When it comes to safety that is good news because all eyes are on the waterfront, and that is how we want it to be.

Because swimming is literally central to the whole camp, our waterfront procedures are visible to all. Everyone in camp is instructed in water safety on their first day of camp, by the full waterfront team. And everyone can watch as life on the waterfront unfolds before them.

Waterfront safety is a project for the whole camp.


Multi-Layered Safety: Lifeguards, Lookouts, and Buddies

The safety of our waterfront is enhanced by three “layers” of supervision: Lifeguards, Lookouts, and Buddies. All Rockmont Lifeguards are American Red Cross Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED certified, and are further certified in the American Red Cross Waterfront Module. Our Lifeguards train and drill every week, working through various scenarios. Their professionalism and commitment is a model for the rest of camp.


Lifeguards also teach a number of skills each day, and this helps them get to know the campers by name. 

Rockmont lifeguards work as a team, positioned at all the active positions of the waterfront. They are positioned to see each area of the waterfront. There are rules within each section of the waterfront, that allow the lifeguards to maintain visual contact with every camper. Lifeguards rotate to a new position every fifteen minutes. 

Lookouts are cabin staff, who supplement the work of the Lifeguards. Lookouts are trained by the waterfront staff for their positions. They arrive early to any swim activity, and are stationed around the waterfront with specific assignments. They help enact the rules in every section of the waterfront. They get properly fitted PFDs on campers who are getting on the Web. And they help the lifeguards monitor the Buddy board, which brings us to the third layer of supervision:


The Buddy System is the core of waterfront safety, and the cardinal rule is that everyone – camper and staff – is paired with a buddy before they enter the water. 

Buddies take their individual buddy tag (which everyone at Rockmont has), and walk together to the buddy board, where a staff monitor places the tags together on a number and confirms that the buddies know their number.

Every fifteen minutes the lifeguards call, “Buddy Check,” and all buddies swim to the docks for a count!

The buddy system allows us to know how many campers are in the waterfront, and who they are. It also provides buddies who help keep eyes on each other, under the watchful eyes of lookouts and lifeguards. These are the three interconnected layers of waterfront safety at Rockmont. 



The Swim Test


The whole waterfront safety system begins on opening day with a swim test. After a lively orientation by the full swim staff, cabin groups are called one at a time for a swim test. Every camper is evaluated on his ability to swim 25 meters and tread water for fifteen seconds. Based on this swim test and other input from parents, we give non-swimmers a buddy tag with two notches, and we give counselors, Tribal Directors, and all trip leaders a list of their names. When they wish to swim, they are given a PFD and are paired with a counselor buddy.

They can also enjoy the beachfront area, which is wading depth! 



The Waterfront is the visual focal point of Camp Rockmont, and it is the hub of much fun.

We want everyone to be able to safely enjoy the cool mountain water, and all the adventurous elements we have here!

As a father, I also know that nothing is as important as making sure someone is watching my kids in the water, so if you have any questions about how we swim, please call. I would be glad to talk with you!


Stan Wilson

Coordinating Director & Director of Risk Management

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