Boys & Girls Clubs of America and The ZAC Foundation Announce Expansion of National Partnership

Foundation promotes aquatic safety with weeklong camps at Boys & Girls Clubs in 25 cities


WEBWIRE – Saturday, March 29, 2014

Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and The ZAC Foundation, a national leader in water safety education, announced the continuation of their partnership to bring water safety skills and basic swim instruction to thousands of children across the country through a program called ZAC Camp.  The partnership will provide swimming-safety instruction to more than 2,500 Club members at 25 Boys & Girls Clubs beginning in March 2014. In total, the two-year collaboration will help more than 3,500 children ages 5-9 learn swimming safety.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause in children 5-14.  Risk of drowning is highest in minority populations, with the fatal drowning rate almost three times that of Caucasian children.  Many of these deaths are preventable if proper water safety measures are taken.  ZAC Camps aim to reduce these statistics through community engagement and education.

ZAC Camp – named in honor of 6-year-old Zachary Archer Cohn who drowned as a result of being entrapped in the suction of a swimming pool drain – is designed to teach children critical tools to ensure safe swimming, including fundamental stroke training, emergency preparedness and response, and basic lifesaving techniques specific to their water environment. 

“We are ready and eager to build off the success of the 2013 partnership with The ZAC Foundation and help more kids learn the fundamentals of swimming and water safety,” said Jim Clark, President and CEO for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “It has been amazing to see our youngest Club members retain and use the skills they learned at ZAC Camps last swim season. We are looking forward to adding more safe swimmers to these ranks this summer in the cities where water-safety education is needed most.”   

This time-tested curriculum uses classroom education, in-pool swim lessons, and instruction from First Responders and is based on easy-to-learn tenets of water safety learned in the children’s book co-authored by Zachary’s parents, The Polar Bear Who Couldn’t, Wouldn’t Swim.  The ZAC Foundation will also donate a copy of the book to each camper, allowing campers to spread the messages to friends and family.

“Zachary’s legacy lives on in each and every camper who attends the ZAC Camp program,“ said Karen Cohn, co-founder of The ZAC Foundation. “Boys & Girls Clubs have been an essential partner in our mission as we work to bring our message of water safety to children and families across the country.”

2014 marks the second year of the national partnership between the two organizations to implement ZAC Camps in Boys & Girls Clubs across the country through the Foundation’s grant program.  The 25 Clubs that will host ZAC Camps in 2014 were chosen through a rigorous application and review process: 


For more than 100 years, BGCA has provided high-quality programming that builds character and offers kids a safe and nurturing environment to learn and succeed.  ZAC Camps reinforce BGCA’s focus on child health and safety.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America:
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,000 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at BGCA’s Facebook and Twitter.

About The ZAC Foundation:
The ZAC Foundation was established in 2008 by Brian and Karen Cohn after the loss of their 6-year-old son Zachary Archer Cohn in a pool drain entrapment in their backyard swimming pool.  Through education and advocacy, the Foundation is dedicated to preparing children and their families for a lifetime of swimming safety.  To learn more about The ZAC Foundation, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and thezacfoundation.com.

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