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Junior lifeguards course concludes second successful year
Junior Guards observe water samples from San Luis Reservoir and learn about the local ecosystem during their training. - photo by RYAN MCLAUGHLIN/The Journal

The San Luis Reservoir Junior Lifeguard Program wrapped up its second annual three-week long training course at the San Luis Creek State Park on Friday.

This new program to the Central Valley offers boys and girls age 9 to 14 years old a chance to learn a variety of skills pertaining to the lifeguarding profession, as well as the aquatic environment. Participants learned basic skills in CPR, First Aid, rescue techniques and other lifeguarding procedures.

“This program is for the kids to kind of pre-train to become a lifeguard in the future,” said Micah Moore, Junior Guard instructor. “Our goal here is to not only teach them the skills to becoming a lifeguard, but also about the ecosystem as a whole.”

Programs such as this one have become invaluable tools for kids over the years as they pursue their goals of becoming future lifeguards for beaches or parks across the state. About 80 percent of current lifeguards working in California State Parks previously attended junior lifeguarding programs.

“This is the only junior program like this in the Central Valley,” said Moore. “Lifeguarding jobs can be very competitive so hopefully by giving these kids the knowledge they learn here they can have a leg up on others looking for a lifeguarding job.”

Over the three-week course participants go in-depth in all areas of aquatic safety instruction, team building exercises and other physically demanding tasks. Before the program even begins, all junior guard applicants must complete a series of tests to gain admittance into the program.

A typical day for this program goes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Those five hours are filled not only with physically demanding challenges but also lessons and lectures from guest speakers to give the kids different perspectives and information.

Guest speakers and appearances range from park rangers to emergency services, primarily other people lifeguards may need to interact with during a day on the job. Many of the instructors for the program consider this to be the equivalent of a police explorers program for lifeguarding.

One of the junior guards from this year’s crop attended the program last year and decided to come back for more.

“This is the best program around that I’ve gone to,” said Daniel Sanchez of Turlock. “I did this program last year and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to continue coming. I’ll probably be coming again next year too.”

There are other fun activities included daily that allow the kids to enjoy the experience more and build stronger bonds with their peers as part of the team building side of the program. Games like dodge ball or capture the flag encourage cooperation while things like paddle boarding or swimming are purely for fun.

“One of my favorite parts of this program is when we all get to mess around and play games with each other,” said Sanchez.

While the sun may have set over the waters for this year, the program is already gearing up to return for next year.

The San Luis Reservoir Junior Lifeguard Program costs $320 per participant. Those interested in enrolling for the summer 2017 program can go online to find out more about tryout dates and other important information.