Base pools looking for a few good lifeguards
Stars and Stripes March 4, 2006
High school students, servicemembers and other sun lovers can unpack their swimsuits, dig out their sunscreen and open a bank account before this summer’s pool and beach season.
Lifeguard training, open to anyone 15 years and older at most locations, is set to begin soon at many Pacific bases, in time for participants to gain lifeguard certification to work this summer.
Being a lifeguard, organizers say, is one of the best ways to earn bucks while having some fun in the sun on base. Starting pay is about $7 to $15 an hour, depending on location.
“You get to hang out by the pool, and get really good pay,” said Michele Jacobs, pool and beach manager for Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. “They have a hard time getting lifeguards.”
Besides the money, and a fun job to boot, the experience can come in handy down the road.
“It gives [high schoolers] a lot of leadership experience,” said Angela Curlola, Morale, Welfare and Recreation intern for aquatics at Yokosuka Navy Base, Japan. “It tends to look good on a résumé or college application. It’s more than just getting a tan.”
Many bases have class schedules established. Others will offer a class when there’s interest, so it’s important to get in touch.
The class is no cakewalk.
“You can actually fail it,” said Alec Culpepper, Sasebo Naval Base’s fitness and aquatics program manager. But bases almost always have job openings for those who pass, he added.
“We usually teach the class to get lifeguards,” he said. “We don’t have enough in the community to fully staff for the summer.”
Julia Herchenhahn, director of aquatics at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, was a lifeguard when she was a dependent living on base in 1996 and returned to the job during breaks from college. Now director of aquatics, she’s noticed a definite decline in participation, a situation she hopes to correct.
On Okinawa bases, the job pays about $7 or $8 an hour, depending on location — higher than most entry-level positions on base, Herchenhahn said. The jobs usually attract 16- to 18-year-old high school students, but servicemembers also are welcome to apply. They can work a limited number of hours with a supervisor or command’s permission, she said.
“I’ve been trying to pull in as many young airmen as possible,” she said. “It’s something they can do on the weekend or at night pool parties. It’s a great idea for the summer.”
Kadena has three pools and a small ocean beach, and the Marine bases on Okinawa have 11 more pools and their own waterfront, she said.
“There’s definitely plenty of opportunity here on the island,” she said.
Lifeguard 101Those interested in becoming a summer lifeguard must be 15 or older to take the Red Cross certification course, which includes CPR and first aid. The certification is good for three years, but lifeguards need a first aid and CPR refresher each year.
Some bases offer junior lifeguard programs to introduce youngsters to the job, although they can only shadow real lifeguards, they can’t actually work on their own.
Servicemembers may also participate, depending on their command policy.
In locations with beaches — Okinawa and Guam — a separate waterfront lifeguard course is available after earning regular lifeguard certification.
If your base doesn’t have a scheduled class, call the aquatics department to see if one can be set up — many bases will wait for interest before setting up a schedule. Many bases also offer training for lifeguard instructors and water safety instructor (to teach swim classes).
Here are some of the classes and contacts for bases in Japan:
Sasebo Naval Base
In addition to lifeguard classes, the aquatics office has water safety instructors who can teach swim classes and lifeguard instructor classes.
The cost for lifeguard classes, depending on the type, is $25 to $50, which covers supplies.
No exact date has been set for classes in Sasebo but they will begin in early May. Call DSN 252-3588 for information.
Yokosuka Naval Base
A class finished Feb. 26, but with six pools open in the summer, there is always a need for more lifeguards, organizers say. If people are interested, the base will offer another class. Call DSN 243-2052 for information.
Atsugi Naval Air Facility
Next class starts April 7. Call DSN 264-6165 for information.
Misawa Air Base
Class lists were not available by press time. Call the American Red Cross at DSN 226-3016 for upcoming classes and information.
Yokota Air Base
A class will be offered March 20-25. Another may be offered if there is additional interest. The class is $75 for books and supplies. Before taking the class, participants must be able to swim 500 meters and pick up a 10-pound brick from the deep end of the pool and swim with it for 25 meters. Call DSN 225-6133 for information.
The next class is March 20 to April 8. Register by March 15 to participate. Call DSN 263-5656 for information.
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
The next class begins April 18. Interested participants must be able to swim 500 meters to enroll. The class, including all books and supplies, is $80. Call DSN 253-4966 for information.
And, on Guam:
Andersen Air Force Base
In addition to lifeguard training, certified lifeguards can take waterfront safety training to work on the beach. The base also offers the Red Cross’ “Guard Start,” a program to introduce 11- to 14-year-olds to lifeguarding. They learn the basics of water safety and first aid and how to use simple rescue tools. They can then shadow a certified lifeguard for experience.
The lifeguard course, including all materials such as a mouth guard for CPR, is $135. Those who get certified can work at the base facilities or potentially even at a pool at one of the large hotels on Guam.
U.S. Naval Forces Marianas
Classes available off base only, through the American Red Cross.
— Juliana Gittler