A care package of much-needed surf rescue equipment from Down Under will be delivered to a local youth lifeguard training program next month.

A group of Australian surf lifeguard associations, led by the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club, a world-renowned surf patrol organization in Queensland, Australia, has shipped a container full of lifesaving supplies to the Junior Lifeguard Program at Leo Carrillo State Beach. 

The Australian groups donated the trappings to the Malibu-based youth lifeguard initiative to replace the items the ocean rescue teaching organization lost when November’s Woolsey Fire blazed through Leo Carrillo State Park and destroyed a trailer and storage unit that housed paddleboards, uniforms, and other lifesaving and training gear. 

Tim Harvey, the junior lifeguard program’s coordinator, said the Aussie’s donation is a phenomenal gesture that is severely appreciated—and was almost expected in the surf rescue realm. 

“People really look after one another,” he said. “It’s a small community, so if something goes wrong and people hear about it, they want to help. It’s just the way it is.”

The en-route equipment includes uniforms, eight surf skies, 10 race paddleboards, 15 nipper paddleboards and three inflatable, standup rescue boards. The Australians sent the gear free via a shipping container that will arrive at the Port of Long Beach. Once in the U.S., the paraphernalia will be driven to Leo Carrillo and unloaded. Harvey ordered two 40-foot storage containers he hopes will be available for use by the time the lifeguard equipment arrives around May 5. 

“Temporary structures and storage containers are really our biggest issues,” he said. “I’m hoping by the end of next month we have a couple of them in place, so we can get stuff stored and use as a temporary home for at least this year.”

The donation comes on the heels of the 2019 Surf Lifesaving Exchange Harvey organized with the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club, of which he is a past member. The Dec. 27, 2018, to Jan. 14, 2019, exchange featured Harvey, nine Leo Carrillo youth lifeguards ages 11 to 17 and some of their parents traveling to Maroochydore, a coastal Australian city, to train with local youth lifeguards. 

Harvey said the excursion went well. The Leo Carrillo youths honed their surf lifesaving skills, made new friends, toured some of Australia and attended the Oceans 6 carnival, a surf lifesaving event. The California youths were familiar with their Australian counterparts since they had trained with them last year in Malibu.

Toward the end of the American contingent’s trip, their hosts alerted them that they had solicited donations from four other lifeguard programs. 

The Leo Carrillo youth lifeguards were awestruck, according to Harvey. He said the camaraderie between surf rescue groups around the globe is a big reason why he wanted the Malibu program to strike a relationship with the Australian one.

“I wanted our kids to know that out there in the world, internationally, people help each other out,” Harvey said. “You develop this connection in the lifesaving community. They help us. We in turn will help them.”

Harvey said a representative from the Maroochydore club could be on-hand when the donated equipment arrives in Malibu. He expects Australian youth lifeguards to visit the Leo Carrillo junior lifeguard program once a year and hopes to take a group of burgeoning Leo Carrillo lifeguards to Australia once every two years. 

“I am hoping that really takes hold because the outpouring and sense of goodwill and partnership is important,” he said. 

Registration for the Leo Carrillo Junior Lifeguard Program opened last week. The club’s first tryout was canceled, but another will be held on May 5 at the Malibu High School pool. The program will run from July 1 to Aug. 9. 

Harvey said it is important for the lifeguarding youth to see that the Leo Carrillo operation is still going despite the havoc the wildfire wrought on the park and beach. 

“We can get back on the beach,” he said. “We can run a program. We can be effective. The beach is still here. The ocean is still here. The kids still want to learn about how to survive in the ocean and how to use the ocean.”

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