What About Becoming a Lifeguard?

When I had my new-hire orientation with the Columbia Association, I had the good fortune of meeting five young women and men hired to be summer lifeguards and swim coaches for CA. One of the young ladies I met, Sara, goes to school with my son and knows him because they both play the tuba. (How’s that for a small-world experience?) For the five of these bright young people, this was their first job — much better than my first job of detasseling corn!


I wondered if I would run into any of the lifeguards I met during orientation during the summer when I went to the pools. As it turns out, the very first day of summer vacation, I went to the pool with both of my boys, and who was the first lifeguard I saw? Why, it was Sara from my CA orientation.

Sara Rzegocki is 15 years old and an incoming sophomore at Wilde Lake High School. She remembered me, too, and enthusiastically said “hi.” I told her I was writing a blog post about lifeguarding and asked her how she liked it so far. And as you would expect, she said she was loving it. I asked, “Have you gotten your first paycheck yet?” And she shyly replied, “Well, it’s in the mail, I think.” Ah, then I asked the all-important question, “Do you already have plans for your first paycheck?” And with a giggle, she said, “Yes, I do!”

I got to thinking once again about how great lifeguarding is for a first job. Lifeguarding, probably more than many first jobs, is a pretty serious responsibility. But it builds character, teaches you the importance of safety and of being thorough, teaches you how to deal with people, how to work as a team, how to take responsibility for yourself, helps you understand the importance of chain of command, and all that business parents care about. And yes, it provides a paycheck. I don’t know: Perhaps Sara probably only cares about the paycheck, but I’m sure her parents — and she, in time — will care much more about all the rest.

As an aside
I’ve learned recently that CA provides a lot of our area youth with their first jobs as either lifeguards, lesson instructors or swim coaches. About 450 young adults are hired annually to work for one of CA’s 23 outdoor pools and four indoor pools. Most teens learn about lifeguarding from swimming at the pools and/or participating in one of the 13 summer swim teams with CA. They learn what it takes to become a lifeguard or swim instructor by visiting the CA Aquatics website.

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Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Over the past year she has worked on losing weight, getting fit and doing volunteer work; she is now looking forward to working for CA after staying home with her family for the last several years. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in educational administration. Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.

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