[Ride a Wave - Creating Special Days for Kids With Special Needs]
  Volunteer  -  Beach Buddy Guidelines

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It is important that you read and understand ALL the information on this page AND the Introduction to Volunteering page before committing yourself as a Ride a Wave volunteer.

Contact:  Volunteer Coordinator


A Beach Buddy acts as a child's guide to the beach and as their link to all that Ride a Wave offers. In effect, the Beach Buddy ensures that each child has the safest and most fun experience possible.

As a RAW Beach Buddy your responsibilities are to:

  • Greet your participant at the sign in desk.
  • Learn from the Beach Director, or their parents / guardians of any special needs or conditions. For example, some children may need a beach wheelchair, some may have food allergies, some may be prone to seizures, or some may have other medical conditions that require special care.
  • Treat your participant like any other child. This is their chance to forget their troubles and be a kid.
  • Walk them to the Lifeguard demonstration.
  • Make sure they properly apply suntan lotion to keep from getting sun burnt.
  • Guide them to and/or through the Rambo Relay obstacle course.
  • Assist them in putting on the gear (wetsuit, life vest & helmet).
  • Take them to get their picture taken.
  • Lead them to the body boarding, kayaking and surfing event venues so they can sign up and get in the water.
  • Convey to
  • Play with them in the sand or water's edge if they want. For some kids, that experience is even more fun than surfing.
  • Cheer them on.
  • Make sure they are properly hydrated.
  • Ensure they have lunch.
  • Make sure they get their 'goodie' bag at the award's ceremony at the end of the day.

Beach Buddy Safety Policy

When you arrive in the morning, check in and let the Ride a Wave Beach Director know that you are a Beach Buddy. We try to match each Beach Buddy with a participant before the children arrive, but this is often not possible due to last minute changes. The Beach Director writes down who is assigned to whom. Each Beach Buddy is given a nametag with your name and that of your child's. As a Beach Buddy, you must stay with the child throughout the day.

Safety is our #1 concern. In that vein, the most important rule as a Beach Buddy is to never leave your participant alone at any time. If they choose to participate in the water events, be sure that whichever group (body board, kayak, or surf) you turn the participant over to acknowledges that they are responsible for the participant.

If you need to leave for any reason, such as grabbing a snack or going to the restroom, do so only after making sure your participant is looked after by another RAW volunteer or you've made other arrangements with the Beach Director.

When your participant is body boarding, cheer them on from the shore and make sure they land safely. If it's a nice day, consider getting barefoot so that you can be at the end of the wave as the water comes in. If they need to wait for their turn, wait with them. Engage them in conversation. Treat them like any other child. If they want to stay on the beach, stay with them, even if they just want to sit on the sand. If they don't want to go in the water you can try to get them involved in other beach activities, such as making a sand castle. But always remember, that it's their day, so sitting in the sand or running on the beach is perfect if that's all that they want to do.

For your first camp, you will be paired up with an experienced volunteer, if possible. We try to keep the volunteer-to-participant ratio at 1-to-1. However, 2 volunteers per child, or up to 4 or 5 children per volunteer, may be necessary depending on the number of volunteers and participants at any camp.

Last, but not least, be aware that your connection with this child is very important and can be life changing. Remember to be a friend with a positive attitude. Encourage your buddy and help them feel like champions. The rewards will be enormous.

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