It doesn’t take long for a child to drown, and when it does, it rarely happens how most people think.
“Drowning happens very quickly and very quietly. It’s not this catastrophic thing that we see on TV,” said Victoria Gagliano, advance representative for the ZAC Foundation. “It’s not this flailing, splashing, screaming kind of deal. It tends to be just this kid kind of floating there.”
That’s why events like the four-day ZAC Camp are important. For the second year in a row, the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Bend invited kids to take part in the four-day water safety camp, which is done in conjunction with the foundation.
It lets children ages five through nine years old combine classroom learning with swimming lessons.
The ZAC Foundation was founded in 2008 by Karen and Brian Cohn after their son, Zachary, drowned. The foundation brings the ZAC Camp across the country annually, and this is the second year that it has been hosted in Corpus Christi.
Gagliano said everyone around water should be mindful of children swimming, especially parents. She warns that because drowning can be quick and quiet, parents need to be constantly watching.
“If you’re a parent make sure that you’re not necessarily on your phone,” Gagliano said. “Attention is really the best thing you can give when your child is in the pool.”
The camp teaches kids about different safety aspects of swimming and being in pools. The kids are also given presentations by first responders to get them familiar with officials in uniform and more about safety, including how to float and not panic if they should fall into a pool.
Kim Barrientos, chief executive officer for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Coastal Bend, was excited to bring the camp back to the area. She said it was especially important for the coastal areas.
“It’s important for kids to learn how to swim because living on the coast, a lot of the kids go to the beach and there’s a lot of swimming pools down here,” Barrientos said.
Barrientos also added that for kids, it’s often embarrassing when they don’t know how to swim, so the camp helps kids with their self-esteem.
Corpus Christi is one of the three cities in Texas that got the ZAC Camp, which usually goes to around 20 cities a year.
“We’re just really glad that we get to offer this again and let kids learn some important stuff,” said Valerie Burciaga, director of operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Bend.