• View of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from the Marin Headlands, looking towards San Francisco at sunrise.

    Golden Gate

    National Recreation Area California


trainee lifeguards in the surf

Junior Lifeguards run into the water at Stinson Beach in Golden Gate National Recreation Area

National Park Service

Be a Junior Lifeguard

What is a Junior Lifeguard?

Junior lifeguards are girls and boys ages 12 to 17 years old who train with National Park Service lifeguards and other public safety workers in the following skills:

● Identification of rip currents

● Swimming in rip currents

● Identification of distressed and drowning swimmers

● Use of paddleboards

● Use of swim rescue buoys and fins

● Professional rescuer CPR and first aid

● Use of automatic external defibrillators

● Use of oxygen administration equipment

● Various ocean rescue techniques

● Spinal injury management

● Working with the public

What do I have to do to be a Junior Lifeguard?

Students who are accepted into the program and will be 15 years old on or before August 13, 2014 will be entering an American Red Cross lifeguard training and certification program, and will be required to attend each class, excluding field trips.

Students not yet be 15 years old on or before August 13, 2014 can participate, but will not be eligible to earn the American Red Cross lifeguard certifications through this program. They will be exposed to much of the same training as those in the certification course, but at a lower intensity.

As a general guideline, those interested in enrolling in this program should be able to swim 500 yards in a pool in less than approximately nine minutes, and when rested complete a mile run on a road or track in less than approximately eight minutes.

When and where do Junior Lifeguards meet?

Classes are every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 10am until 1pm, from June 23rd through August 13th. Most classes will meet at Stinson Beach.

What is a typical day in the Junior Lifeguard class?

Most classes are held on the beach, with a few indoor classroom sessions. Typically, a class begins with some type of group exercise. It may be a beach run, body surfing, swimming races, calisthenics, or a mixture of these.

The remainder of the class is generally devoted to learning various lifeguarding skills. A significant portion of class time will be spent in the water. Water temperatures at Stinson Beach rarely exceed 55 degrees F.

Will I be eligible to work as a lifeguard later?

Though employment as a lifeguard after participation in the Junior Lifeguard Program is not guaranteed, several former Junior Lifeguards are currently working as paid lifeguards for various agencies.

How do I become a Junior Lifeguard?

There is no fee to enroll in the Junior Lifeguard Program. Each applicant must hand deliver their application to lifeguards on duty at Stinson Beach before Memorial Day, and participate in a scheduled interview.

Acceptance into the program is contingent on successful completion of a sprint biathlon fitness test at Stinson Beach on the first day of the program. Students who will be at least 15 years old on or before August 13, 2014 must complete a one third mile open ocean swim towing a rescue buoy, followed immediately by a one half mile beach run. Students younger than that must complete a one quarter mile open ocean swim towing a rescue buoy followed immediately by a one half mile beach run. Participants may use their own wetsuit, cap, and goggles for the swim, but use of fins is not allowed. The rescue buoy will be provided by the program.

Due to variable surf and weather conditions, there is no hard time limit for completion of this test. Participants’ performance will be judged by National Park Service lifeguards.

The Junior Lifeguard Program includes arduous physical activity, occasionally in high surf conditions. Participants will swim in rip currents, and may complete beach runs of up to five miles.

How do I apply?

To apply, download, print, and complete the following application (JPG version Page 1 & Page 2) and hand it in to lifeguards on duty at Stinson Beach before Memorial Day, 2014. Applications will also be available on site at the lifeguard tower. Enrollment will be limited to 25 students for the certification course, and 35 students for the non-certification course.

To schedule a time to hand in your application and interview for a position in the program, contact the Stinson Beach lifeguards by phone at 415-868-0942, or by e-mail at goga_jl@nps.gov.

Did You Know?