Children and teens who hoped to improve their ocean safety skills in San Clemente’s Junior Lifeguard program will have to wait until next summer.
City officials have announced a final session planned for mid-July will not be held. Two earlier sessions had already been canceled due to state restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic.
City officials said protecting the public’s health and safety was paramount to their decision, adding that the junior guard program would have begun before the state initiated the fourth phase of its reopening plan.
“Since that is not expected until after the planned start of the final Junior Lifeguard session, and due to the lead time required to conduct swim try-outs and prepare for the session, the city is canceling the entire Junior Lifeguard Summer 2020 program,” officials said.
Typically, the city’s program educates more than 800 kids, ages 10-17, in a summer. Boys and girls spend their days learning ocean safety and first aid, playing beach games and jumping off the pier. Many of those who participate in the city’s program have gone on to work as seasonal or full-time lifeguards in the city.
The program is supported by the San Clemente Lifeguard and Junior Guard Foundation – made up of former San Clemente lifeguards and community leaders.
Some other cities in Orange County that previously had considered cancelling their junior guard programs, have come back with modifications.
In Newport Beach, city officials voted to offer the program to all ages groups, but put safety measures in place to address COVID-19 concerns. In Huntington Beach, officials also reversed plans from a complete shutdown and are now offering the ocean program. Programs in both cities will run fewer weeks and have significantly smaller groups.
State Parks are also offering scaled-down versions of the program at Huntington State Beach and Bolsa Chica.