Surfriders Reach Out To Community
With the peninsula being the home of the only two "surf only" beaches in the city, the New York City chapter of the Surfriders Foundation group is looking for ways to get involved with the Rockaway community.
During their monthly meeting on July 11 at the Tap and Grill, members discussed several ideas to give back to their surfing home.
"One thing I would highly recommend to lifeguards here is to do what they do in Australia - take water soluble dye and show the public about riptides and the dangers of the ocean," said Alex Karinsky. "Rockaway has the worst record of deaths of any beach in New York."
Other ideas ranged from going into the schools to teach about beach safety, to making sure children know about ocean safety by teaching them to swim.
Currently, the organization is running the Surfriders/KidsmArt camp for youngsters ages 11 to 15 at Fort Tilden. Over a four-day period during two weeks this month, children from the west end of Rockaway are learning about the environment at the camp, being run in association with Rockaway Artists Alliance, founders of the KidsmArt after-school program and summer camp.
"It's a way of consensus building with the community to get the word out to take care of the environment," said Chris Wade, who said he would like, eventually, to see the program expand into the east end of the peninsula.
"I feel this is something [the community] could get behind," continued Wade about working with Rockaway's young people.
While such things as nature walks are scheduled, the main focus will be on beach erosion.
"It's a hands-on environmental project," continued Wade. "We'll be building cedar beach fencing to protect the dunes at Fort Tilden."
The Surfriders also want to get behind a legislative bill that promotes beach access for groups using the beach for purposes other than swimming and at the same time exempts those who run the beach from liability for injury or death when lifeguards are not on duty.
Pheffer's bill adds surfing, scuba diving and fishing to a previous law that already includes hiking, boating or the training of dogs.
The same bill was introduced in the Senate, but is stranded in the judiciary committee there as well.
"It's not just for surfers. We're also doing it for the safety of swimmers," said Allison Blanchette, a Surfriders member.
Surfriders Foundation is a national organization with 50,000 members in the United Sates as well as international chapters and affiliates. Its mission is to protect and promote enjoyment of the world's beaches through conservation, activism, research and education. The website for the NYC chapter is http://www.surfrider.org/nyc/.