A 15-year-old Illinois boy drowned during an organized swim held at his camp in Michigan. The tragic death occurred despite the presence of camp counselors and lifeguards. The boy was one of 15 young men swimming in water roughly 10 feet deep when he went under. By the time lifeguards were able to pull him up some 15-20 minutes later, he was unconscious and not responding to their efforts to revive him. He was taken by ambulance to an area hospital where he was later declared dead.
The camp, Greenwoods Camp for Boys, has brought in grief counselors to help the boy’s fellow campers, family and camp workers deal with this tragic death. The camp director issued a statement of condolence to the parents of the child and other loved ones who have been most affected by the loss. No word has been issued as to what caused the boy’s distress before he went under.
Water safety should be a primary area of focus at swimming pools and open water sites everywhere. The CDC lists drowning as one of the leading causes of unintentional death among young people. Boys are particularly susceptible to drowning deaths, accounting for a larger percentage of deaths than girls in every age group. Supervision by highly trained lifeguards is vital, but it should also be accompanied by teaching children a healthy respect for the dangers posed by the water.
At this point, it is not clear what caused this terrible tragedy. The health and safety of the campers must be first and foremost in the minds of camp personnel. Drowning is almost always preventable, particularly in situations where adults are present to supervise the swimming activities of children.
Source: Kalamazoo Gazette, “Decatur camp brings in grief counselors following Wednesday drowning,” Rosemary Parker, 21 July 2011