Keiki & Junior Lifeguard Program
You Saved My Life By: Roy Yamagata
No words have more impact, and more far reaching to those involved in the Jr. Lifeguard program, than to hear a young man or woman say, “I saved somebody!” And no words have deeper, more profound impact, on a Jr. Lifeguard than to hear “Thank you, you saved my life, if not for you I’d be dead”! Many preventions and rescues by Jr. Lifeguards have been reported over the years, and will continue to be reported.
No other youth program is more important than this one. The Jr. Lifeguard program was missing a link in the chain of survival until the County of Kauai under Parks and Recreation funded the annual summer program in 1997. Since then it has developed and grown into a viable and dynamic part of our ocean safety plan for the Garden Island. In the summer of 2012 the Keiki (ages 8-12) Jr. Lifeguards was finally added to the program. Boy and girls wanting to join, but were too young, were able to participate.
The Ocean Safety Bureau, under the Kauai Fire Department, is limited in its scope and range to provide lifeguards and towers on every beach. This program helps to fill this void by training young men and women to perform a valuable lifesaving service for their community. They are trained, to some extent, in various skills that professional lifeguards are required to have. They learn to identify dangerous ocean conditions and hazards, prevention and rescue skills, first aid and CPR. The program also stresses a healthy drug free life style and respect for
The summer of 2004 was a milestone for the program. The state Jr. Lifeguard championship that year was held at the Ala Moana Beach Park on Oahu. The dominating,unbeaten champs were the Oahu teams. As the events progressed everyone started to realize that Kauai’s team might have a chance to topple Oahu. We knew we had done well, but how well was anyone’s guess. As the officials announced the places from last to first there were polite, quiet applauses. Everyone was anxiously waiting for second and first places because our Jr. Lifeguards did so well. The whole event went quiet as the announcer began saying “and in second place is…Oahu!” Immediately the Kauai contingent knew they had won and erupted in yelling and screaming, hugs and congratulations. Kauai knew at that very moment they were bringing home the victory for the first time. The Oahu teams were stunned and devastated. They couldn’t believe Kauai took first place. In the following years Oahu tried hard to take back the trophy. They were intent to win back the title. But Kauai grew more confident, bolder and stronger and for twelve consecutive years they proved that our “country” island can compete
In 2013 and 2014 Kauai Jr. Lifeguards finally had a chance to travel to Manhattan Beach in California and to Virginia Beach in Virginia to compete with the “big programs”. Last year at the Virginia Beach Nationals, our 25 young men and women went up against bigger teams. Kauai garnered second most in medals overall, and with a total of 48 medals, finished strong in
When they first come into the Jr. Lifeguard program they are just…”kids”. When they leave we can no longer call them kids. Through this program they are transformed to become young men and women ready to take on an important responsibility for ocean safety (8 have become Kauai County Lifeguards) and community. The benefit to the island of Kauai is immeasurable and we can never thank our supporters enough for believing that our Jr.
Lifeguards can and will make a difference. Kauai is so very proud of them!