While most children spend the summer having fun, there’s a small group of young people who dedicated upwards of eight weeks of their summer learning how to save lives with the city of San Diego’s Junior Lifeguard Program.
Children between 7 and 17 years old participate in the Junior Lifeguard Program. They learn from San Diego Lifeguard instructors during two four-week sessions during the summer.
Tuesday, they strapped on harnesses and learned skills that could possibly save someone’s life.
“This is our Sunset Cliffs Day for our Junior Lifeguard Program,” declared San Diego lifeguard Douglas Smith. “This day is really neat because some of these junior guards discover that they have a set of skills, practical skills, that they didn’t even know they had.”
“I definitely feel really proud, especially every year when I’m able to accomplish something new,” said 15-year-old Liz Parmann.
Parmann is one of more than a dozen females in this year’s crop of Junior Lifeguards. Smith said Parmann also has a growing number of women lifeguards to look up to.
“I think being around a lot of women every day is really helpful, especially when you’re in a group with a lot more guys than girls,” Parmann said. “So it’s nice to be able to see women who are instructors and lifeguards, and be able to look up to them.”
In fact, Parmann looked up at her fellow Junior Lifeguards Tuesday as she slowly descended a small section of Sunset Cliffs using a harness and rope. Smith said San Diego Lifeguards conduct more than 10 cliff rescues per week during the summertime. He said many of the rescues are of people who worked their way down a cliff without a plan to get back up.
“We call them false trails ... they’ll get down there without being injured but some people aren’t athletic enough to get back up,” the veteran lifeguard Smith said.
Smith said he fully expected some of this year’s junior lifeguards to eventually be his coworkers.
“It happens more often than you think,” Smith said.
Parmann said it’s something she’s working toward.
“I definitely do want to intern and -- who knows? -- maybe someday I’ll become a lifeguard or instructor,” Parmann said.