Not everyone on the beach this summer will be working on their tan and swimming in the lake. Sylvan Lake’s beach ambassadors will again be patrolling the area, offering information about the town to those who need it.
According to Joanne Gaudet, communications officer for the Town of Sylvan Lake, beach ambassadors are a benefit to both tourists and local businesses. Their main job is to provide visitors with any information of interest to them, including events and tourist-oriented businesses. Ambassadors are also trained in first aid, should it be needed, and are equipped with a walkie-talkie while on the job.
“They’re kind of playing the role of a visitor information booth on feet,” said Gaudet.
While the ambassadors have a small shelter from which they provide information, the majority of their job is conducted on foot by patrolling the beach. They were told to look for people who might be lost, and had the opportunity to meet local business owners to gain information about them before they started foot patrol. Gaudet said all ambassadors are knowledgeable about accommodation, restaurants, and local happenings.
This is the second year the beach ambassadors have provided their service. Gaudet said that while the town already has a tourist office, the ambassadors were intended to be a more proactive way of informing visitors.
“I think it’s a very valuable program,” Gaudet said. She added that as a beachgoer, she would not want to leave the beach to find information. This is the best way of informing people who aren’t in touch with local media sources and who would not otherwise hear about events.
Gaudet said there are lots of opportunities for the beach ambassadors to promote local businesses, in addition to providing information to tourists.
The ambassadors are also in a good position to monitor public opinion about the town, based on the types of questions they receive. Last year, they were able to come up with ideas about improvements for different events and services in town. Gaudet said one area of confusion was the issue of dogs on the beach. Some people did not understand why no dogs were allowed, or didn’t know where they could go to be with their pet. Gaudet clarified that because the beach is part of a provincial park, the town can’t control its laws.
The only complaint the town received about the ambassadors last year was that they weren’t visible enough. They are wearing uniforms this year.
Last year, the ambassadors spent their entire shifts on the beach. If it was raining or there was construction, they weren’t busy enough, said Gaudet. This year, they will help coordinate events in town, and will help with parks and recreation maintenance duties in the case of inclement weather.
There are three beach ambassadors employed this year, all of whom are students at Red Deer College, said Gaudet. They include Mike Saby and Brittany Maukonen of Sylvan Lake and Stefan Dugas of Penhold.