How We Swim

Stan Wilson March 12, 2020

Rockmont enjoys a spectacular and beautiful waterfront. 

We swim in a 20-acre lake, fed by fresh mountain streams at the base of the Asheville Watershed, and we look up to see the Black Mountains rising 4000 feet in the distance. It’s a great place to swim, dive, blob, and more. It is also the home of our still new Web, featuring 8 over-the-water challenges, our Gullywasher water slide, the Turtle (a floating trampoline), the Log, and still more.

Because swimming is literally central to the whole camp, our waterfront procedures are visible to all, and that is how it should be. 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.

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 multiple times a 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.

The lifeguards are led by our longtime Aquatics Director, Jim Hinton, and also a Waterfront Director and a head guard. The waterfront is not opened until one of those leaders is present, and no section of the waterfront is opened until we have the proper supervision ratios. 

Rockmont lifeguards work as a team, positioned at all the active positions, which can include the Cabana, the Web, the Blob Tower, the high Platform, the Corkscrew Slide, the Turtle (trampoline), the Basketball swim area, the Low Dive, the High Dive, the Blob Chair, and the Beach. They are positioned to see each active 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 the lifeguards monitor the Buddyboard, 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 that 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 are keeping 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 their 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, TDs, 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 there. 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

Director of Risk Management


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