[Ride a Wave - Creating Special Days for Kids With Special Needs]
  Volunteer  -  Tandem Surf Escort 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:  Tandem Escort Coordinator (Jonathan 'Steiny' Steinberg)
Role:  A Tandem Surf Escort is teamed with three other escorts and a Tandem Surfer to ensure that each child has the safest and most fun experience possible when out surfing. 

It takes 6 things to be RAW Tandem Surf Escort:

  1. Experience: You need to be an accomplished swimmer, surfer and paddler with at least 5 years of experience. Training/experience as an EMT, Lifesaving and/or Lifeguard are excellent skills to have. Long board experience is a plus.
  2. Physical Strength: Strong shoulders and backs are a must for long periods of paddling and assisting with participants. Escort boards are 10-11 feet in length, in addition to paddling you will need to be able to maneuver the board quickly and easily in the when escorting. It is a long paddle from the beach to the break, having to jockey for position, often assisting the tandem team catch waves (hopefully 3 waves for each participant) and paddle all the way back in. You will definitely need strength and endurance to do this all day.
  3. Technique: The single most important thing to remember is to insure the safety of the participant. As an escort you are the back up eyes and ears for the tandem team when paddling out, waiting in the line up and while surfing. It is important to establish communication with the participant; this will make them more comfortable and help keep the tandem surfer aware of how the participant is fairing. When escorting you may need to assist the tandem team with catching waves by either pushing or "the sling" approach. Once on a wave, the escorts will "shadow" and/or lead the way. The escorts need to protect the tandem team from possible collisions with other surfers and is there to assist in the event of a wipeout. You may have to ditch your board to help "rescue" a tandem participant in the event of a wipeout; to avoid additional confusion, an escort should not be leashed to their escort board. One very important item is, as an escort, you need to remember we are there to insure the participants catch and ride waves and we may be blocking others or asking that they not ride a wave; as a courtesy, escorts should not catch and ride waves during the event.
  4. Courage: It takes courage and confidence in your own abilities to be able to have a participant put their life in your hands. Cowell's is extremely difficult to surf because of the crowd, and it is imperative that your concentration remains unbroken by the challenges you will face.
  5. Commitment: You must show up when you say you will. Upwards of fifty people, participants and volunteers, work together to make RAW an incredible experience. Every individual must be committed to their word and the program for RAW to remain a success. If you say you are going to show and help, please do so!!!!!
  6. Common Sense: Enough said :)
Tandem Surf Escort Guidelines
  1. Ideally there should be 4 escorts per tandem board consisting of: 

    one pusher -- assists the tandem surfer paddle into waves.

    one catcher --  sits on the inside catching loose boards, keeping the area clear of non-participants, helping the tandem surfer securing the board and guest while turning to paddle back out to the line up. 

    2 escorts -- one on either side of the tandem board. These two need to hold these positions in order to keep non-participants away from the tandem surfer and participant. Sorry to say, but if it appears that a non-participant is going to collide with the tandem board, it is your responsibility to try and get between them so that our guests are not harmed.
  2. As an escort you are the eyes for the tandem surfer. Be constantly aware of the guest's facial expressions and communicate back to the tandem surfer on the guest's condition. A guest could be happy one moment, but as this is new to many of them, sudden changes to fear can appear in an instant.
  3. Be consistent and check in with the guest on a regular basis to see if they are comfortable, etc. Because of the disabilities that many of our guests have, they may have poor blood circulation and can get cold very easily. On the other hand, if you are waiting on the beach to go out surfing, check in with the guest to make sure they are not over heating in their wetsuit.
  4. Lots of physical contact along with verbal contact with the guest is very reassuring for them.
  5. Check with the counselors for any special needs the guest may need while on the board. Inquiry is most important. Some guests are non-verbal or can have sudden spastic reflexes or seizures that we need to be aware of. Check to see if they need to be positioned on the board in any special way in order for them to have maximum comfort while in the water.
  6. DO NOT RUSH WITH ANY LIFTING, and be sure to know how to lift guests properly. It's too easy to pull joints out of sockets if not lifted properly. Especially when you are in deep water and you are trying to re-position the guest on the board.
  7. Under no circumstances are escorts to stand up while on waves. This even includes times when you get separated from your tandem team. You MUST remain prone or on your knees at all times.
  8. Do not take it upon yourself to change escort teams. Check with the team leader before making any changes.
  9. Absolutely no one is to take a board until they are assigned to a board. 

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