'Emerge' Camp set to make splash in Warwick

Posted 5/18/23

Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel may be the headliner of Warwick's new Emerge Youth Life Skills Camp, but the scope of the summer program will be bigger than just the backstroke.  As described …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

'Emerge' Camp set to make splash in Warwick


Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel may be the headliner of Warwick's new Emerge Youth Life Skills Camp, but the scope of the summer program will be bigger than just the backstroke.  As described in a recent press conference with Mayor Frank Picozzi at McDermott Pool, the camp will expand beyond swimming to include life-guarding and water safety skills, as well as first aid, physical and emotional wellness, and even environmental education.

"The concept of Emerge Camps is something I would have dreamt of attending as a child growing up in Rhode Island," said Beisel.  The South Kingstown native is a three-time Olympian, first competing in 2008 as the youngest swimmer on the American team in Beijing.  She won two medals (silver and bronze) at the London games in 2012 before serving as the team's captain in Rio.  In 2021, she made local news by becoming the first woman to swim to Block Island.

"I am beyond thrilled about the impact Emerge Camps is going to have on our youth," said Beisel.  "We are offering kids life-changing skills that they will use throughout their entire lives, shaping our future community into a confident group of leaders who have the ability to thrive in any environment they are exposed to."

The five day program is designed for campers between the ages of 10 and 14, and will be offered in two sessions in mid-August.  Campers will meet each day at either McDermott Pool or The Event Factory, with Friday being spent at Rocky Point State Park.

Emerge co-founder Brian Guadagno met Beisel when she applied to become a lifeguard at Narragansett Beach in 2022.  "It seemed a little ironic to me at the time," he explained.  "After everything she'd accomplished in the water, she said that becoming a lifeguard at Narragansett was still one of her lifelong goals.  That led us to a conversation about the training and education opportunities that were already lacking before the pandemic - there are so many drownings, so many tragic incidents that you hear about in the news that could have been prevented if people knew how to handle an emergency in the water."

Locally, there have been several recent incidents near Conimicut Point, with two fatalities in 2021 and a water rescue occurring last summer. Guadagno says that skills campers learn through Emerge will benefit the wider community; he also says it has been designed to address social and lifestyle changes brought about by the pandemic.

"For the past several years, these kids have had to stay inside, everything has been digital, and a lot of meaningful social experiences have been lacking," he said.  "The summer camp format really allows us to fill in some of those events and the social skills that come with them. We want to focus on leadership, communication, general health and wellness - as well as teaching campers new skills like yoga and meditation.”

 Warwick Parks and Recreation Director Bev Wiley says that the camp will fill a distinct need in local youth programming.  “Even before they approached us with the idea, we had been looking for programs that would target this age group,” she said.  “Middle school is a tough period, and we noticed that we didn’t have very many programs designed specifically to target children that age.  We have lots of activities for our younger kids and our athletic programs for high schoolers, but not very much for that important 10-14 window.  We want to get them interacting again, get them back outside.”

That last sentiment was the motivation for the “Re-Wilding Day” at the end of each five day session, a field trip to Rocky Point for training in ocean rescue and survival skills.  Over the course of the day, campers will not only learn to protect one another in the wilderness, they will also learn about protecting the wilderness itself.

"The campers will be learning from Save the Bay and DEM about the different animals that inhabit the bay and what makes this environment so important," said Guadagno.  "We want to reintroduce them to all of the beautiful resources that our state has to offer.  And to really bring that full circle, we've also reached out to the Narragansett Indian Tribe to explain the Native history and culture surrounding the location."

"Rocky Point is already an important summer memory for Rhode Islanders of a certain generation, and I think events like this can make a treasured memory for the next one as well,” said Guadagno.

Mayor Picozzi said he was impressed by the admirable use the program makes of city resources. “As a father and a grandfather, I know first-hand just how valuable camps are to our children,” he said. “The fact we can showcase areas of Warwick this summer is a win-win, and we can’t wait for Emerge Youth Camps to be a staple in our city and the state of Rhode Island for years to come.”

For their part, the team at Emerge is excited to dive in at their new location.

“To have our camp centrally located in Warwick is something we don’t take for granted,” said Beisel. “Our goal is to be easily accessible and available to everyone, and the City of Warwick has been nothing but supportive every step of the way.”

Registration is already open; each five-day session cost $499 (which includes lunch).  Learn more at

Beisel, camp, splash


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here