This is Carolina: Pint-sized lifeguard keeping campground beach safe for ‘seven years’

TIC: Cooper the Lifeguard

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - It’s a tough life for “Cooper the Lifeguard” at Ocean Lakes Family Campground.

He said he’s been a lifeguard there for seven years, and he’s seven years old. He’s quite the professional, and will tell you his favorite things are saving people and his lifeguard partners, Kevin and Andrew. His least favorite parts of the job? Being told he’s “cute” and taking pictures. But it’s all part of the job for Cooper Warne.

“He’s been following the lifeguards around for many years. This year he finally made a few friends and got a few items to wear to become a lifeguard himself,” Cooper’s dad, Matt Warne, said.

Warne brings Cooper, his daughter and wife to Ocean Lakes Family Campground for a little over two weeks every summer. He said they come back sporadically other times throughout the year.

“He’s on his bike riding as hard as he can go to get down here to park his bike to get out here. Every morning he gets up and says ‘I’ve got to go to work,’ so he’s super excited every day,” Warne said.

Cooper knows just about every lifeguard rule and is popular among the other daily beachgoers for the week. Many of them told WMBF News about Cooper.

“The first day with Cooper was about two and a half weeks ago. He just came up when I was sitting in my tower, and he says ‘I help the lifeguards out every year.’ I thought it was just going to be for a few days, but then it turned into two and a half weeks. But he was just a pretty cool guy in the beginning, he knew all the rules already so I didn’t really have to do too much,” Lack’s Beach Service lifeguard Kevin Cope said with a laugh.

Cope quizzed Cooper on lifeguard rules, and he knew just about every one.

“I didn’t expect to have like a little kid follow me around, trying to be a lifeguard and tell me that his dream is to be a lifeguard. My dream was to be a lifeguard at the beach so it was nice to be able to show him something of the ropes,” Cope said. “The hardest part about being a lifeguard is keeping everybody organized. But Cooper’s helped me out with that. All the old ladies seem to like him."

Although Cooper has been a lifeguard in the Ocean Lakes beach area for years, this year his duty was different because he was awarded a pint-sized uniform, which he wore every day, even ironing his shirt before “work.”

“He definitely keeps you on your toes, sometimes it feels like he’s training you,” Cope explained.

Cooper is from Virginia. He said he wants to be a lifeguard and live in the Grand Strand. Cooper’s dad is on the beach with him every day, watching him follow some familiar footsteps.

“It’s a great feeling, it gives me chill bumps just thinking about it. I hope it’s what he does for the rest of his life. As long as he’s happy, I’m happy. He’s always said he wanted to be a fireman. Of course you get to the beach and you got a lot of lifeguards around so it’s a different story. But it kind of brings a tear to my eye. I do know that he really enjoys something that I always wanted to do as well,” Warne explained.

Warne is a firefighter and he gets the pleasure of seeing his son respond to the lifesaving call of duty!

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