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As warm weather approaches, YMCA of Greater Charlotte offering wakesports safety sessions

According to the CDC, more than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among people 15 years and older happen in natural waters like lakes, rivers, or oceans.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For the first time ever, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte is offering families the chance to learn boating and wakesports safety as part of new program that will begin this summer.

The Y’s Camp Thunderbird will give families the opportunity to sign up for private wakesports sessions as a way to teach families how to stay safe on the water.

"Water, it can be fun,” said Sam Obando, day camp and adventure guides director at Camp Thunderbird. “It can be exciting, but it can also have its dangers and have its risks."

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According to the CDC, more than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among people 15 years and older happen in natural waters like lakes, rivers, or oceans.

The program will teach families about safety on the wakesport of their choice, such as wakeboarding, wakesurfing, kneeboarding, skiing, and tubing.

Obando said families will be able to progress through learning the different sports by going over the safety guidelines and practicing on land first before taking their newly learned skills on the water.

Even though a person may be an expert swimmer in a swimming pool, Obando said learning how to navigate on the lake is much different.

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"It has so many different attributing factors, like weather. It can't always be clear water. You know, it's going to be some murky water,” Obando said. “It needs a little bit more direction, some more things to go over, and some more practices so that you're making sure you're staying safe."

The latest available data from the U.S. Coast Guard shows 86% of drowning victims in boating-related deaths were not wearing life jackets.

Obando said wearing a personal flotation device is key to keeping everyone on a boat safe.

"It's an added piece that doesn't take any effort, and regardless of whatever happens to you while you're having fun out there, you know that you'll stay above water,” Obando said.

The program sessions will begin in June and run through the end of July. Families can come out to YMCA Camp Thunderbird in the evening for two hours for a private wakesports session for up to six participants, with all skill levels welcome.

Boat drivers are all Coast Guard licensed, lifeguard certified and trained to teach watersports.

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