Birthday boy learns the ropes at Coast Guard Station Toledo

Senior Chief Petty Officer Jay Galazin, officer-in-charge at Station Toledo, Ohio, presents Camden Verhoff a life ring signed by the crew of the USCGC Buckthorn, during his tour of Station Toledo, Ohio, Oct. 12, 2012.

Fifth birthdays are a big deal! A milestone because it is often the first birthday party kids truly remember. Not only does turning five mean the start of school, but a child can really start expressing their independence. These reasons alone are enough to go all out and celebrate with a big bang but not all 5-year-olds are alike.

Camden Verhoff, from Leipsic, Ohio, turned five on Oct. 18. Instead of watching Power Rangers and Sponge Bob Camden prefers to watch the Coast Guard Alaska television program and The Guardian, Touchstone Pictures 2006 film about Coast Guardsmen.

Camden Verhoff takes a moment to pose for a picture by an anchor at Coast Guard Station Toledo, Ohio, during a tour of the station, Oct. 12, 2012.

So when it became time to discuss what theme he wanted for his fifth birthday, he told his mother he wanted a Coast Guard theme.

After an unsuccessful internet search for Coast Guard related birthday fun, Camden’s mom reached out to the Coast Guard for help.

“He has never shown interest in anything with as much intensity or for as long as he has for the Coast Guard,” said his mother Ali Verhoff.

When Camden grows up he, wants to become an aviation survival technician with the U.S. Coast Guard and perform helicopter rescues.

On the morning of Oct. 12, 2012, six days before his fifth birthday, Camden got a taste of the Coast Guard by visiting Coast Guard Station Toledo, Ohio. During the station tour, Camden and his parents were able to get on the station’s boats, explore the working components of the station and learn about the Coast Guard’s missions.

“I can’t believe this is actually happening- it is so awesome what the Coast Guard is doing for us,” Camden’s mother said as she watched him wriggle around the station’s ice buoys.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Jay Galazin, officer-in-charge of Station Toledo, personally gave Camden and his family the tour of the station and boats. He also explained the missions the crew conducts.

“It was very rewarding to meet someone so young that had such a deep interest and excitement about the Coast Guard,” said Galazin. “He reminded me how much fun this job can be. Maybe now that he has been on a Coast Guard boat, he will want to perform rescues from smallboats as opposed to helicopters.”

After hearing about Camden’s interest, the officer-in-charge of Coast Guard Cutter Buckthorn, homeported in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., but recently in Cleveland for dry dock, had his crew sign a life ring that has been used on the cutter and gave it to Galazin to give to the birthday boy.

Camden Verhoff shows his excitement at being in the coxswains seat of a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium at Coast Guard Station Toledo, Ohio, during a tour of the station, Oct. 12, 2012.

“We were happy to take part in his birthday and to help make it special,” said Chief Petty Officer Isaac St. John, executive petty officer of Buckthorn.

“Hearing that he was super excited to get actual Coast Guard gear was a great feeling for the crew.”

As Camden was given the tour he explored every inch of the station with a young boy’s enthusiasm asking questions about each piece of equipment. He learned about the Coast Guard boats and the rescues that the crew performs. Learning about buoys, anchors, life rings, life jackets and the rescue communication system used at the station was icing on the cake. The tour was concluded with a trip to the station exchange to purchase Coast Guard gear for the future birthday boy.

“I feel like the Coast Guard spoiled me and my family,” said Camden’s mother. “It was crazy amazing what they did for us. We haven’t had a day that great in a while.”

Tags: , , , , , ,