Pam Carlsen has been a going to the Bayshore Waterfront Park Main Street Beach Area in Port Monmouth for more than 50 years but her journey as Beach Sweep Captain started only last year.
Carlsen, a 69-year-old Port Monmouth resident, moved into the Middletown Township area in 1964. She used to bring her three sons to the Main Street Beach and she has also enjoyed coming to the beach.
Carlsen started volunteering with Monmouth County Parks system after she started hiking with her senior hiking group. Starting with trail maintenance, Carlsen was involved with the park system and last year, she was asked to become a beach captain for the Main Street Beach Area in Port Monmouth.
“Everyone that comes out here wants to be here,” Carlsen said. “Kids are here for service hours with the National Honor Society or Boy Scout Troops. People are here who just want to get involved and even groups of business people come out to volunteer…. People want to help their community.”
Handing out trash bags, waters and pretzels from the back of her car, Carlsen instructs ‘sweepers’ to head left toward Pew’s Creek or right toward Compton Creek while they pick-up trash along the shoreline.
The amount of people who come out to the beach sweeps range from 10 to 12 people with an upwards of 26 people when groups come to volunteer, Carlsen said.
“Two weeks ago, we had a thunderstorm around 5 p.m. and it poured and I thought who would come to the beach after the storm but 26 people showed up,” she said.
More than 10 Monmouth County residents came from around the county to volunteer on Monday evening as a cool sea breeze blew and temperatures dipped into the mid-70s.
Sara Dalton, 48, of West Long Branch brought her two children, Jackson, 16, and Marcus, 10, clean up the Port Monmouth beach. The trio started doing beach sweeps last year when Jackson, a High Technology High School student, was applying to the National Honor Society.
Now the family sweeps the beach looking for trash to continue to keep trash off the beach.
As the group walked close to the dunes line on the beach, they came across a rusted bicycle pedal, a plastic crate and rusted pieces of medal.
Sara Dalton said she wishes there was a similar program held more often at Seven President’s Beach.
Mary Beth Jones, a 55-year-old Middletown resident, said she decided to volunteer after doing a similar beach sweep with her friend.
“My friend Andrea and I came out to another beach sweep and I enjoyed it so much I decided to come to this one,” Jones said.
Jones said she has not collected anything too interesting off the beach just the usual plastic bottles and broken glass.
Jim Gault, a Monmouth County Park System Volunteer in the Park, said although he does not use the beach, he often uses the trails and does trail maintenance with the Monmouth County Park System.
Along with doing trail maintenance, volunteers have the opportunity to help with beach sweeps which Gault decided to do and has since developed the habit of cleaning up the environment.
“I developed a bad habit when I see a cigarette I feel the need to pick it up,” Gault, a 66-year-old Hazlet resident. “I know I can’t pick up everything, every where I go but I would like to see a clean beach.”
Volunteers ages 14 and older can sign up to sweep the beach while children under 14 years old must be accompanied with an adult. The next Main Street Beach Sweep will be held on Monday, July 23.
The Main Street Beach Area Beach Sweeps are held on Mondays twice a month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., rain or shine, through August. For more information visit www.monmouthcountyparks.com.