Pool Near-Drowning Incidents in Catskills Have Camp Directors, Lifeguards On Edge


poolMonticello, NY – Over the past few days, multiple near-drowning incidents in the Catskills have camp owners, directors, head counselors and life guards greatly concerned and seeking to raise awareness regarding water safety.

In one case, two toddlers, the older said to be about three years old, entered a gated pool area. The younger child, a boy almost two years old, was pulled from the pool and flown to Westchester Trauma Center in serious condition.

On Erev Shabbos, a bochur at Camp Karlin Stolin on Chodikee Lake Road in Highland was pulled from a pool. He is said to be in stable condition, boruch Hashem.

In a third case, also on Erev Shabbos, at about 5 p.m., a drowning youngster was saved in a pool at Ichud Bungalow Colony on Route 42 in Monticello. The boy was pulled from the pool in cardiac arrest, but heroic Hatzolah medics were able to restore his pulse. The boy was taken to Catskill Regional Medical Center and then flown from there to Westchester in critical but stable condition.

“There are a number of vital issues that must be address,” a longtime head camp lifeguard told Matzav.com, still shaken from the recent incidents. “First and foremost, pools must be locked properly, and gates and locks must be checked all the time. If there is a hole in a fence or a broken gate, they must be repaired immediately. It is absolutely sakonas nefashos.”

A camp administrator told Matzav.com that during the last few summers, there have been some incidents that have also revealed a lack of awareness at bungalow colonies, and even camps, regarding the hiring of lifeguards.

“Everyone must make sure that their bungalow colony has responsible, well-trained lifeguards,” the administrator said. “Be certain that they meet the right criteria and have taken take a full course, not some fly-by-night-backyard-3-hour-dip-in-the-pool special. Someone who can’t perform all rescues properly isn’t qualified to watch dozens of children in a bungalow colony pool. If you aren’t sure whether your lifeguards are qualified, have them tested by a competent instructor. Let’s make sure that our camps and colonies are doing the proper hishtadlus to ensure our safety and the safety of our children.”

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Avoidable tragedies!! First & foremost is the safety of ones child; Where are the mother’s of these 3 yr olds?!

  2. Seeing that tbe lifeguard is fully trained to rescue is not nearly enough as the individual has to be alert, mature, responsible, sensible, and much more to take that achrayus.

  3. My daughter(married, mature)a certified LIFEGUARD, and CPR approved worked at a frum bungalow colony one summer. The entire endeavor was problematic:
    1.No lock on pool
    2.Pool would be open before she arrived
    3.No safety equipment (life preserver, lifeguard floater)
    4.Arguments with parents regarding children in tubes, women & girls wearing long TSHIRTS over bathing gear.
    5.Cleanliness & sanitary conditions of pool.

    Owner of colony did not want to provide lock, safety equipment or maintain the cleanliness/sanitary conditions. Everything was an argument. She bought her own lock and safety tube. She did NOT allow long TSHIRTS over bathing suits due to safety and security. She was NOT WELL RECEIVED/LIKED that summer yet all conditions were safe and secure.

  4. I was a lifeguard for years, but never did the bungalow scene (even though it was more money) because of safety concerns. Here are the five things most lifeguards I worked with said to each other about the “country situation”.

    1) Even the best trained lifeguards are not equipped to watch 30 children in the pool by themselves. The cost of having a pool must include sufficient lifeguarding staff. If you have more than 100 kids, get a head lifeguard as well.

    2) Lifeguards must be respected and listened to by parents as well as children. Without the support of the parents, a lifeguard cannot do their job.

    3) First time lifeguards should never be hired on their own. While it may cost a bit more, you cannot put a price on the safety of your loved ones. At the same time, don’t think for a minute that the 60 or 70 year old lifeguard you hired because she’s working in exchange for camps for the kids is physically capable of properly performing a submerged spinal.

    4) The lifeguard’s job is to maintain safety at the pool, not to discipline your kids. A responsible adult should be present at the pool together with a lifeguard and available to help should the need arise.

    5) Whoever is hiring a lifeguard must do a thorough background check. Talk to neighbors and teachers. Do a proper interview. Is this person assertive and confident? Are responsible? Would you trust them to organize the kids in camp or the bungalow colony to build a large fire? If not, this isn’t the lifeguard for you.

    Young lifeguards and people with less assertive personalities will be hesitant to enforce unpopular rules – such as no diving. By failing to enforce these rules, they put the lives of everyone at the pool at risk.

    Swimming is healthy and fun. But without proper safety and supervision, it can get dangerous, fast.

  5. There were NO drownings. A drowning by definition of the English language means a fatality, R”L.

    Please call them “near-drowning”, or something else, so you don’t scare people unnecessarily.

  6. The biggest issue is the total lack of responsibility on the part of the “mothers”. The mothers come to the pool to socialize with their friends and barely keep an eye out on their young children.

    Some mothers send in six children ranging in age from ten years old down to three years old by themselves. When asked where their mother is they say she’s coming soon. Young children should not be walking around the pool area by themselves. The “mothers” feel that the lifeguard can take care of everyone. That is just impossible. Everyone has only two eyes and each mother must be responsible for her
    two, three and even four-year-olds.

  7. Near drownings?

    So do we have to wait until ACTUAL drownings occur C”V before we are concerned about safety?

    Oh, excuse me – I meant:
    “Scare People NECESSARILY,
    instead of UNNECESSARILY.”

    The children who “nearly drowned” are B”H lucky to be alive and are in the hospital in critical condition!

  8. i rarely post here. This, however, has me shaken to the core. Yes, we must do teshuva, learn more, work on ahavas chinam and avoiding lashon hara.

    Isn’t vinishmartem mi’od linifshosechem also a di’orysah?

    $1000 baby carriages are a common site, pushed by hands adorned with K’s more in jewelry and watches. bank accounts are emptied and houses are mortgaged, communities rally and philanthropists engage in constant heroics to support the education, marriage and possibility of parenthood despite all challenges.

    but life gaurding? safety at pools? the average teenager just having got his license and a new car to go with displays better judgement and cautiousness.

    chevra, there are no surprises and a drought of miracles. until kids grow gills, there will be drownings and near-drownings (which can leave lifetime mental and physical damage) every summer.

    unless of course a bigger miracle happens. we put more resources into our children’s safety than we do into that of our cars and homes.

    please, this is not a rant. it is a lament. there are enough tragedies and atrocities we can do nothing about. these are ones that we can prevent.

  9. i am currently a lifeguard at a bungalow colony in the Catskills. One of the basics of lifeguarding is prevention. Has anyone noticed that most of the (near) drownings in our community here in NY happened with boys? How many bungalow colonies hire lifeguards for the boys? I don’t know of a single chassidish colony that has one. Why not?

  10. I was a head lifeguard in a colony for many years. The cluelessness is not cause theyre bad. Its total ignorance to what we, as trained lifeguards know. That lifeguards are needed for prevention and to raise awareness, set down rules and etc NOT TO SAVE DROWNING PPLE. Cuz if we do our jobs right THERE WONT BE ANYONE DROWNING AND IN NEED OF SAVING. so yes, everyone needs a lifeguars to set down rules and prevent tragedies. Regular pple are not aware of the dangers. Thats all