5 Important Skills You Need to Secure a Lifeguard Job Abroad
Have you ever wondered whether becoming a certified summer camp lifeguard is for you?
I achieved my American Red Cross certification at NJY Teen Camp through the Camp Leaders program and let's say that there’s way more to it than the red outfits and catching a tan! Before camp starts, you will receive formal training, so there's no need to worry. But to become a qualified lifeguard at summer camp there are certain character traits that you should already have.
Whether you’re in Canada, America, or China, the first thing you’ll notice about most summer camps is their impressive waterfront. So it comes as no surprise that certified lifeguards are highly sought after in the summer camp world. It takes a certain type of person to be able to take on this level of responsibility, so Camp Directors are very selective when hiring for this role. A lifeguard’s role at summer camp is as demanding as it is in demand.
If lifeguarding isn’t for you- no worries. There are hundreds of other incredible summer camp jobs abroad so you’ll find the role that is perfect for you. My first summer at camp I worked in the performing arts department. Since then, I have since become a qualified outdoor education instructor and a certified lifeguard - so anything really is possible.
Here at Smaller Earth, we’ve combined our expertise on summer camps to list the top skills that Camp Directors look for when hiring lifeguards. So if you're looking at securing a lifeguard job abroad, then this list is for you.
You must be reliable
Summer camp is all about encouraging children to try new things. So it’s no surprise that the jam-packed schedule allows campers to try lots of activities throughout the day.
As campers move from one activity to the next, the team of on-duty lifeguards must ensure that all posts throughout the day are covered. The hectic atmosphere of camp means that waterfront directors rarely have time to check-up on their staff, so you are responsible for being in your correct lifeguarding position at all times. As a team, you'll be relying on each other to ensure the department keeps to a high standard, with complete coverage throughout the week.
You are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of anyone using the waterfront or pool facilities, so reliability is key to prevent unnecessary incidents.
You must be focused
Being observant and focused is crucial for any lifeguarding position, but when working abroad at summer camp, this characteristic is particularly important.
From kayakers to jet-skiers, people on paddle-boarders to campers jumping on inflatable obstacle courses, most summer camp waterfronts have lots of activities happening at the same time. Throughout the summer you’ll also form bonds with campers who’ll see you as their older sibling. So don’t be surprised when they call your name, wanting you to watch them do a front-flip off the water trampoline, or do a handstand in the swimming zone.
The ability to focus amidst all of these distractions is a crucial characteristic if you hope to become a summer camp lifeguard. You will be taught how to scan the water correctly during your training, but you should already have a natural tendency to be observant and focused.
You must be a people-person
As a lifeguard at summer camp you will, for the most part, be responsible for children.
This means having the people skills to be able to enforce the waterfront rules, whilst remaining friendly and professional.
Throughout a typical day at camp, you will be working with lots of groups of campers with different personalities, needs and abilities. You should be as friendly and approachable with your first group as you are with those at the end of the day, as it is important that campers feel comfortable coming to you with any issues that may arise. Also, if an incident does occur while you’re on duty, you should naturally be able to empathise with the vulnerable individuals involved. It could be a scary scenario for them, so the ability to calm and reassure them is vital to resolving it.
You must be a good communicator
Lifeguarding abroad requires excellent communication skills, particularly when working at a summer camp.
As mentioned before, you may be positioned on a busy waterfront where various activities are taking place. Communication and teamwork between all on-duty lifeguards is imperative to ensure that all areas are being watched at all times and that everyone in the water is safe. As you will be moving between lifeguarding posts throughout the day, you’ll be expected to be able to efficiently communicate and handover your position to the next lifeguard. This is especially important at summer camp as the waterfront is so spread out. For example, an incident that happened at the swimming docks, may not have been seen by lifeguards who were at the pool on the other side of camp.
Communication is also important if you need to carry out a rescue, not only between fellow lifeguards, but with medical staff and anyone else involved in the incident. Effective communication is not only vital in serious scenarios, but can prevent them happening in the first place.
You must be a strong swimmer who loves the water
This may go without saying but the stronger you are as a swimmer, the easier you’ll find it to pass your qualifying lifeguard course.
Amongst other things, your formal assessment will include a swim test and ability to tread water. Being a strong swimmer before you start the course will be highly beneficial, as you’ll be able to put your efforts into perfecting the rescues, without being held up by the physical element of swimming.
Depending on your camp, you could be positioned at the pool, the lake waterfront or even on a river. Being a strong, confident swimmer will enable you to adjust to whatever lifeguarding position you are given at camp with ease. As we mentioned previously, Camp Directors are extremely selective when hiring lifeguards, so if you have a passion for being in the water, make sure that this is reflected by using practical examples throughout your application.
So there you have it. Our top skills that you must have if you want to secure a lifeguard job abroad at summer camp. Remember, you don’t need an Olympic swimming medal or even a lifeguarding qualification before you go, just a combination of these characteristics and a passion for being in the water.