Monday, June 7

Teetoncey & Lifesaving

The U.S. Life-Saving Service was the ancestor to today's Coast Guard.  It had eight-member teams stationed at remote areas of coastline that literally put their lives on the line to save lives.  Their unofficial motto was, "You have to go out, you don't have to come back."  These men ventured into violent storms and shipwrecks, showing exemplary courage, and saved thousands of lives total during their years of service.

With four aunts and uncles serving in the US Coast Guard, the boys were excited to learn about the history of that branch.  We've been listening to their "tales from the sea" for nearly twenty years now...some are mesmerizing!  Knowing what they experience, with today's technology, made us very curious about how these same feats were accomplished over a hundred years ago.  

History of the Coast Guard

The United States Coast Guard is one of the 5 branches of the military of the United States. It is a part of the United States Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard's purpose is to protect the people, environment, industry and security of the United States on seas, lakes and rivers. To do this, the Coast Guard uses boats, ships, helicopters and airplanes to stop smuggling and other crime and terrorism, and to rescue ships and boats in danger.

The Coast Guard traces its roots back to the United States Revenue Cutter Service, which was created by Congress in 1790 when President George Washington signed an act allowing the building of 10 boats, called "cutters." The service was first suggested as a way to collect tariffs which were being lost to smuggling. The first Coast Guard station was in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Until the re-establishment of the Navy in 1798, the Revenue Cutter Service was the only naval force of the early United States.  The modern Coast Guard can be said to date to 1915, when the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Life-Saving Service when Congress formalized the existence of the new organization.  In times of war, the Coast Guard or individual components of it can operate as a service of the Department of the Navy.

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Water Safety for Teens

When swimming...

  • Take a Friend! Even experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps, which can make it hard to get out of the water. When people swim together, they can help each other or go for help in an emergency.
  • Be Prepared. First, know how to swim. If you don't, it's never too late to learn. Learning some life-saving skills, such as CPR and rescue techniques, can help you save a life. Check with your local Red Cross and YMCA.
  • Know your limits. If you're not a good swimmer, don't go in water that's so deep you can't touch the bottom and don't try to keep up with skilled swimmers. That can be hard, especially if your friends are challenging you, but you'd rather live to see them again, right?  That said, if you are a good swimmer, keep an eye on friends who aren't as comfortable or as skilled as you are. If they're getting tired or a little uneasy, suggest taking a break.
  • Swim in the Safe Zone.  Swimming in an open body of water is different from swimming in a pool. You need more energy to handle the currents and other changing conditions in the open water.   It's always best to swim in places that are supervised. No one can anticipate changing ocean currents, rip currents, sudden storms, or other hidden dangers. If something does go wrong, lifeguards are trained in rescue techniques.
  • In the Event...  If find yourself caught in a rip current, don't panic and don't fight the current. Try to swim parallel to the shore until you can get out of the current, which is usually a narrow channel of water. Gradually try to make your way back to shore as you do so. If you can't swim away from the current, stay calm and float with it. The current will usually slow down. When it does, you can swim to shore.
  • Dive Smartly. Diving injuries can cause head injury, permanent spinal cord damage, paralysis, and sometimes even death. Protect yourself by only diving in areas known to be safe, such as the deep end of a supervised pool. If an area has "No Diving" or "No Swimming" signs, pay attention to them. Lakes or rivers can be cloudy and hazards may be hard to see, so just don't dive.
  • Don't Drink the Pool Water. It's easy to get dehydrated in the sun, particularly if you're active and sweating, so make sure that you are drinking A LOT.   Dizziness, feeling lightheaded, or nausea can be signs of dehydration and overheating.
  • Just Say No.  Up to half of all water-related deaths are alcohol-related, and half of all teen male drownings are tied to alcohol use.  Just don't do it.

In a boat...

  • Watch the Weather. Before boating, be sure the weather conditions are safe. Local radio, internet, or TV stations can provide updated local forecast information.
  • Don't get Tired.  The U.S. Coast Guard warns about a condition called boater's fatigue, which means that the wind, noise, heat, and vibration of the boat all combine to wear you down when you're on the water.
  • Grab Your Floaties. It's always a good idea for everyone on the boat to wear a life jacket, whether the boat is a large speedboat or a canoe — and whether you're a good swimmer or not. Wearing a life jacket is the law in some states for certain age groups, and you could face a stiff penalty for breaking it.
  • Tell a Friend. Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back on land.  Better yet, bring along another friend so you're not alone.  If you're planning to be gone a long time, make sure to bring a weather radio and keep an eye on the day.


  • Teetoncey
    • In 1898, twelve-year-old Ben rescues a near-drowned girl from a shipwreck off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Although the girl, named Teetoncey, becomes part of his family, she will not utter a single word.


Make / Do


  • Backboard
  • Buoy
  • Distress
  • Exertion
  • Long board
  • Lookout
  • Ordeal
  • Rigor
  • Rip-tide
  • Submerged
  • Surface
  • Treading
  • Undertow


  • What are some of the most important characteristics that a lifeguard should have when they’re out on duty?
  • What is the difference between the Coast Guard and the Navy?  What do each of them focus on primarily?

Looking for a literature-based language arts program? The Twenty-Three Reads Bundle is for someone who wants a little bit of everything! 

It includes twenty-three unit studies covering a wide range of topics. Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand. These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Language Arts
    • Finding Langston & the Poetry of Langston Hughes
  • Geography
    • Anne of Green Gables & Canadian Provinces
    • Stowaway & Antarctica
    • Julie of the Wolves & Alaska
    • Blades of Freedom & the Louisiana Purchase
    • The Avion My Uncle Flew & France
  • History
    • Zlata’s Diary & the Slavic Wars
    • Freedom Summer & the Summer of 1964
    • Treasure Island & Pirates of the Caribbean Sea
    • Farenheit 451 & Types of Government
    • Red Stars & Russia in World War 2
    • The Great Gatsby & the Roaring Twenties
    • The Long List of Impossible Things & Post-War Germany
    • A Tale of Two Cities & French Revolution
    • Witch of Blackbird Pond & Salem Witch Trials
    • The World Made New & Early Explorers
    • Stitching a Life & Jewish Immigration
  • Life Skills
    • Teetoncey & Lifesaving Skills
    • Freak of the Week & Disabilities Awareness
    • Island of the Blue Dolphins & Sailing
  • Science
    • The Science of Breakable Things & the Scientific Method
    • Frankenstein & Human Anatomy
    • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein

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