New state junior lifeguard program is open for business

Two years after a privately run junior lifeguard organization ended its operations at Sunset Beach, a new state-funded program has set up at Bolsa Chica State Beach and is looking for students.

California State Parks lifeguard and junior lifeguard program coordinator Chris Egan said the classes in Bolsa Chica will fill the gap that the California Junior Lifeguards program left behind.

In February, members of the California Junior Lifeguards pleaded with Huntington Beach to allow the business to keep running in the Sunset Beach community after its permit to operate expired. But a 2010 agreement made during the annexation process between Huntington Beach and the Sunset Beach Community Assn. called for an end to the program.

Residents in Sunset Beach had complained about the traffic jams along Pacific Coast Highway and Warner Avenue, where parents would drop their children off for the day. Additionally, some Sunset residents argued that the program had outgrown its short stretch of sand.

Egan said the Huntington State Beach Junior Lifeguards program saw enrollment increase by about 200 children in the summer after the Sunset program ended, and he hopes the Bolsa Chica program will absorb those students.

The new program will be modeled after the existing state curriculum, but with a few tweaks. Bolsa Chica will be a single, five-week session compared with Huntington State's two, four-week classes, Egan said.

He added that the new program might be considered a starter program for new students because of the slightly calmer conditions at Bolsa Chica.

"The time standards are going to be 10 seconds slower," Egan said. "So Bolsa Chica can be viewed to potentially be a softer program in terms of the conditions that the kids are going to face."

Sunset Beach Community Assn. President Mike Van Voorhis said he's pleased to see the new program start up this year and believes it will be a better fit for those who enrolled their children in California Junior Lifeguards.

"The Sunset Beach program was in the wrong location, and it was too impactful to our community," he said.

Tryouts for the Bolsa Chica State Beach junior lifeguards program will take place from 9 a.m. to noon April 27 at Edison High School.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World