Rehoboth Beach Patrol Celebrates its 100th Anniversary!

Around 500 guests including 350 past and current Rehoboth Beach Patrol guards celebrated the Patrol’s 100th anniversary Saturday night at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. The celebration, delayed a year because of Covid, brought together several generations of RBP alumni, including 92-year-old Jerry Radkin, the oldest attending lifeguard, with current guards and younger alumni.

The RBP traces its origins to 1921 when Benjamin Shaw started a two-man beach patrol with the help of the Red Cross. Shaw Park was named in his honor but has since been renamed Grove Park!

Here is Oswald Winchester, the first African American lifeguard, who guarded the segregated beach called the Crow’s Nest in 1947. He is shown with 18 other guards at the old RBP headquarters.

Photo courtesy Rehoboth Beach Museum

Since that time, the patrol has grown to a force of 65 personnel.

This centennial anniversary event “signifies just the amount of time and effort that all the guards put into protecting the public here in Rehoboth and you think about 100 years, it’s very humbling for all of us to come together,” says RBP Capt. Jeff Giles, who is the Patrol’s 20th captain.

Here’s Capt. Giles congratulating Colin Fuchsluger as the 2022 Rookie of the Year at Saturday’s celebration!

Photo courtesy Greg Wilson

Capt. Giles points out that lifeguarding has not changed much over the years. “What’s funny is coming in and doing lifeguard training as I did 40 years ago! You still have to do the same thing. You got to sit on the stand. You got to watch the water. You got to understand the current. You got to recognize a problem before it happens. And that is something that you need to be taught. It’s something that you get instructed on. And you know, it’s something that we teach every day,” he explains.

Capt. Giles and his wife, Julie, recognize Denise Allen (center) for organizing the reunion.

Photo courtesy Greg Wilson

Long-time lifeguard veteran and RBP Chief Derek Shockro also credits training which has led to the RBP’s success. The “big thing is our training and our rookie training and the amount of effort that goes into it in order to become a lifeguard in Rehoboth Beach,” he says. RBP does not use a lot of rescue devices because most of the action, he explains, occurs within 20 or 30 meters of the shoreline. “So we go through hard training, and then really it’s the lifeguard and the buoy. And that has been our main lifesaving device that we’ve used, and what we’ll continue to do and every once in a while might be supplemented, but from the beginning to where we are right now, that has been it,” he said.

Former RBP Capt. Kent Buckson did not attend, although guards from his 21-year tenure did.

Debbie Marson, the RBP’s second female guard in 1980 under Capt. Jeff Cannon, summarizes what so many others feel about having had the enjoyment to be on the patrol. “Rehoboth is so amazing and it’s always been amazing,” she says. “It’s so very family oriented. It’s kept its size down. It’s just a wonderful place for families to come out and you know, it’s just a great place. I love love love Rehoboth.”