O.C. museum offers free summer programs

Visitors can learn about surf-fishing; Ocean City, Md. history; rigging a fishing line; knot tying; sea life; beach safety; and sharks during the Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum’s annual summer educational programs, which continue until Aug. 26.

Most of the free 30-minute programs will take place on the Boardwalk at the tram station, just north of the museum, at 10 a.m.

“Families should check them out because they are fun, interactive and, above all, educational,” Assistant Curator Christine Okerblom said. “We are a cultural and educational component of the Boardwalk.”

During the Monday sessions, the “Ocean City before Condominiums” program will detail what the resort was like as a fishing village, before development. That program is aimed more toward adult audiences.

Mabel Rogers, a local resident and Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum board member volunteer, said attendees will hear about what a vacation was like before condominiums.

“We all have Ocean City memories, as that is what vacation is all about,” Rogers said. “I was raised in Ocean City and love the old days. I love to talk about growing up in Ocean City and how life was different then.”

The Ocean City Beach Patrol will lead a beach-safety class on Tuesdays, with information on rip currents, digging holes, what the job of a lifeguard entails, prevention tips and how to use semaphore flags.

The sign on the back of lifeguard stands is used as a guide to direct safety seminars for Boardwalk guests. Children can look forward to giveaways, such as pencils, coloring books, sunscreen samples and waterproof first-aid kits.

Members of the Ocean City Beach Patrol usually bring an ATV or personal watercraft for kids to pose next to for pictures.

Lt. Ward Kovacs of the Ocean City Beach Patrol encouraged adults and children to come out and meet the lifeguards.

Participating in the free museum programs allows beach patrol members to fulfill the education portion of their mission, which also includes prevention and intervention.

A staple returning for the 26th year are lessons on knot-tying, held every Wednesday outside the museum at the southern end of the Boardwalk.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary members are back to demonstrate a number of different types of knots, including a figure-8, reef knot, bowline, a double half-hitch and clove hitch.

“People with boats pay close attention, because we show exactly how to secure a knot,” said Joe Britvch, a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer. “Kids outperform the adults most of the time. I don’t know if they get a better handle on the visual, but they usually always get it right first and it’s a lot of fun.”

Britvch and fellow volunteer Don Schaefer will also hand out literature about the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Thursday’s “All about Sharks,” which Okerblom will present for her first time this summer, is always popular. The informative program focuses on sharks found off the coast of Ocean City.

“We will talk about fact versus fiction,” Okerblom said. “There are phobias surrounding sharks, and you will learn what is true about the sharks that call Ocean City home.”

A megalodon tooth will be on display, as well as contents of a shark belly.

“Mako sharks are known to eat all kinds of stuff,” Okerblom noted.

On Fridays, hands-on demonstrations on how to rig a fishing line will be led by staff from the Assateague Island National Seashore.

“‘Rig It Right’ teaches people the knots that they would use if they are going to give surf-fishing a try while visiting Assateague Island,” said Kelly Taylor, science communicator at the Assateague Island National Seashore.

Attendees will learn the ins and outs of surf fishing, such as the best spots and times to go.

“This program is being done by a ranger, Travis Turnbaugh, who has grown up paddling around and surf-fishing on Assateague since he was a little tot, so in addition to learning the knots, they’ll get a ‘born here’s’ insight,” Taylor said.

The Assateague Island National Seashore also offers free ranger-guided surf-fishing programs several times a week.

On Saturdays, visitors can head inside the Life-Saving Station Museum to watch staff feed a seahorse, American eels, a horseshoe crab, a blue crab, a diamondback terrapin and other sea creatures in the museum’s aquarium room while they learn about the animals.

The area was a former kitchen for Ocean City Life-Saving members, so space is limited.

“While we feed them, visitors will learn what animals live here, what the animal eats and where they specifically live — in the bay or ocean,” Okerblom said. “They will also learn the status of the animals: Are they endangered or doing great?”

Last year, 1,108 people attended the museum’s free programs during their two-month run, and they continue to grow in popularity each year.

“Next year, I really want to revamp the programs, and I have some ideas,” Okerblom said.

Most of the Life-Saving Station Museum’s programs take place at the Boardwalk tram station, just north of the museum. The station has benches for guests to sit on and a roof for protection from sun and rain, though the free programs will be canceled in extreme conditions.

The beach-safety program on Tuesdays takes place on the Boardwalk, directly in front of the museum, and Saturday’s aquarium feeding program is inside the museum, at 813 S. Atlantic Avenue, at the southern tip of the Boardwalk.

The 30-minute programs will be offered Monday through Saturday at 10 a.m. Though they are free to attend, admission to the museum costs $3 for adults, $2 for senior citizens 62 or older and for active-duty military members, and $1 for children ages 6-17. Children 5 or younger get into the museum for free.

The Ocean City Life-Saving Station Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the summer.

Visit www.ocmuseum.org, call (410) 289-4991 or e-mail curator@ocmuseum.org for more information.