Jr. lifeguard camp is fun and good recruitment tool for lifeguards
More than a dozen students are taking part in the Jr. Beach Lifeguard camp this week, learning valuable life-saving skills and paving the way to one day become full-fledged lifeguards if they so choose. Hopefully, those lifeguards will be city employees one day, as the city hires several seasonal pool and beach lifeguards every summer.
Campers hit the water every day at the Russell-Fields Pier, where they are put to the test physically with "real-life" rescues. So as not to frighten other beachgoers, the drowning "victims" yell, "Call for pizza!" as a signal they are ready to be rescued by another camper.
The 9-11-year-olds have camp in the mornings and 12-15-year-olds hit the Gulf in the afternoons. Beach & Aquatics Superintendent Wil Spivey said the students learn all aspects of rescue and utilize all types of rescue equipment.
"One of the first things we teach them about is water safety," said Spivey, adding the camp has been an annual event since 2013. "They learn about our beach flag system and the rip currents and how to handle them, and learn basic first aid and CPR.
"We hope to reap two-fold benefits through the camp. We hope one day they will return as lifeguards for the city and we hope they help us educate others. If they are out here later with their family or friends, they can explain the flags and what to do if you are trapped in a rip current. The people they educate may help educate others," Spivey said.
On the very first day of camp, jr. lifeguards have a 1/2 mile beach run to check endurance and basic fitness. That is followed with an endurance swim, then they work with buoys, boards and backpacks in their rescues.
Waverly Wilmot, 10, of Panama City Beach, said the camp is a blast. "I love swimming and I wanted to learn how to surf and experience being a lifeguard. I would love to be a lifeguard one day."
The city hires pool lifeguards at the age of 16 after they have passed the Red Cross Lifeguard Certification. Beach lifeguards must be at least 18 years old and require more advanced training.
The city is currently looking for both beach and pool lifeguards. These are seasonal positions. Here's a link to our jobs page: Panama City Beach Jobs