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Posted 7/23/2013

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By Tom O'Bryan

Promoting water safety is one of the Corps of Engineers’ primary missions, and recently six employees did just that at the “Beach Survival Challenge” near Grand Haven, Mich.

Employees of the Lake Michigan Area Office, LMAO, set up volleyball courts and other fields of play, handed out water safety items and refereed games.

A total of 78 teams competed in the June 22 event at Grand Haven State Park. The four- to six-member teams participated in four events: beach soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, tug-of-war and the Ultimate Beach Survival Obstacle Course lined with safety-related items.

Organizers provided participants with food, T-shirts and prizes. Chris Schropp, an engineer with the LMAO, was Bobber the Water Safety Dog. He proved to be a big hit with the children, making his rounds to promote water safety.  

The Beach Survival Challenge stems from a tragedy that occurred in 2002: A 17-year-old boy drowned after getting caught in Lake Michigan rip currents. His grieving mother was inspired to develop a fun event designed to raise awareness about rip currents and other water dangers such as pier jumping, so that swimmers may safely enjoy the beauty of Lake Michigan.

The first Beach Survival Challenge took place in 2004 with just 11 teams participating. The event has grown to include such sponsors as the U.S. Coast Guard, American Red Cross and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office – organizations that presented safety demonstrations and distributed water safety materials.

LMAO staff said they were grateful for the 180 volunteers who made this year’s event one to remember.

For more information, log onto www.respectthepower.org.

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