(Editor’s Note: The following is a series on the men and women who have spent their summers protecting all those who came to Ocean City for fun and safe vacation.)
OCEAN CITY — Nelson Jacobsen had graduated from DeMatha High School in 1982. He hadn’t been in Maryland very long, having just moved from Texas two years earlier. His parents were on him about getting a “real job,” so instead he decided to head to Ocean City and join the beach patrol, “on a whim.”
In 1983, he climbed on his stand and what he found, amazed him.
“The beach was constantly filled with kids, as the families turned them loose the moment I set foot on the sand,” said Jacobsen.
He spent his days watching over the families who were in Ocean City to relax, enjoy themselves and let their cares disappear. That often means that the work of the OCBP goes unnoticed.
“I saw a small boy being sucked into a rip that opened along the rock jetty,” said Jacobsen. “I let my fellow guards know that I was going in, slid off my stand and swam out. I let the boy climb on my back, and we caught a wave back to the shore where hardly anyone noticed what had just happened.”
For five summers, Jacobsen made rescues both small and large. At times just one child too close to the rocks and other instances, entire families caught in massive rip currents. He watched over them all and learned something along the way. Life with the OCBP had “empowered me to take on bigger than life challenges and management of others during complex and very stressful situations.”
When Nelson left the beach patrol, he finally did go out and get that, “real job” his parents wanted him to find. He’s now the CEO of Altavoz Entertainment and the founder of the Help Earth Foundation. But, as he says, “I’ll never forget those summers, my fellow guards, and all the lessons I still use to this day.”