3 generations of the Wolf pack watch over Avalon Beach waters for the past 66 seasons

"It's been a way of life for us for a very long time."

Thursday, August 27, 2020
The Wolf pack keeps watch over Avalon Beach for 66 seasons and counting
For one New Jersey family, lifeguarding is in their blood and safeguarding beach-goers, even through a pandemic, is the family business.

This time of year, you can find families flocking to beaches in an attempt to soak up the last rays of summer. Tamala Edwards catches up with a Cape May County Beach Patrol Captain wrapping up his 66th season on the job.

Three generations of the Wolf family have stood watch over the beach in Avalon, New Jersey.

Currently, Murray Wolf serves as the Captain of the Avalon Beach Patrol, but his father and uncle were both lifeguards there as well. Now, all three of his sons also work alongside him as lieutenants, including Erich Wolf.

"My brothers and I grew up on the beach," says Erich. "It's been a way of life for us for a very long time."

Murray says he started working as a lifeguard in 1955 when he was 16 years old.

Erich says, "I became a lifeguard when I was 14, as did my older brother Matthew and younger brother Tyler. ...It was a fun way to grow up." And, he's been here every summer since.

Murray became captain of the Avalon Beach Patrol in 1967 and says preparing lifeguards for duty has changed quite a bit since he started.

"We did a half-mile swim and that was it," explains Murray. "One day of training at 21st Street and sent you out to 61st Street for the rest of the year," he says.

Now, Murray is known for running a tight ship.

"If the kid is with a cell phone, he's gone the first time," says Murray. "You either want to lifeguard and watch the beach or they don't, and I won't apologize for that," he says.

This summer required extra precautions for COVID-19.

"We have one man on, one man off, on the stands," explains Murray. "We try to spread them out."

Erich says he's learned a lot from his dad over the years on the job, especially about responsibility.

"It's something that we take pride in every single day. ...making sure that people are safe," says Erich. "And I certainly feel that my father's done that for a very long time."

Murray says he comes back year after year because he enjoys working with and serving his community and the camaraderie that comes along with that.

"It's just been a great career to be in," says Murray. "You look at this beach and it's just - it's a great work bench."