NAWILIWILI — Eugene Ancheta, a veteran Junior Lifeguard instructor, said there are only a few spaces left in the Poipu site.
“Poipu classes start next week,” he said Tuesday at the Kalapaki Beach program. “The other classes are all sold out. That includes the Keiki Lifeguard, who has a double run in Hanalei.”
The Keiki and Junior Lifeguard programs are open to keiki between the ages of 8 to 11, and ages 12 to 17 years old for the junior program, with the first program starting at Salt Pond Beach Park June 5.
Heidi Marney, a mother who has three children enrolled, watched from the shade of the coconut palms.
“This is a great program,” Marney said. “This is the first time my three children are doing it. We wanted to do it last year, but it was too full to get in. The children get a lot of sun, and are getting toned big time. They’re not used to this. They’re not looking forward to Wednesday when they have a big swimming test.”
The Keiki and Junior Lifeguard program teaches ocean safety awareness and valuable lifesaving skills, all of which are incorporated into hands-on interactive events which are part of the state and national junior lifeguard competitive program.
“Brandon Jacinto is one of our new instructors,” said David Duncan, another veteran instructor. “We’ve been in the program for three weeks now, and Brandon has been absolutely stellar.”
In addition to the competitive events, Keiki and Junior Lifeguards also learn about drug awareness, cardiopulmonary resucitation, beach and ocean awareness, beach hazards and problem solving.
“You learn to look and observe quickly,” said Makaiah Esparza, a third-year Keiki Lifeguard. “You have to find people who are in trouble so you look quickly.”
Makaiah’s sister Lola has been with the program for four years, next year aging up to the Junior Lifeguard program.
“It’s been fun,” Lola said. “You always learn new stuff, like what to do in an emergency. The best part is the Jet Ski ride.”
Saye Blacknan of Iowa gets to spend the summer on Kauai, and this year enrolled in the Junior Lifeguard program.
“I’m a lifeguard back home in Iowa,” Blacknan said. “We do lifeguarding at pools so I thought it would be cool to see the difference in lifeguarding at beaches.”
The Keiki Lifeguard program next meets July 10 through 14 at Hanalei Beach Park, followed by another session at Kalapaki July 17 through 21.
The Junior Lifeguard program meets June 26 through 30 at the Poipu Beach Park (no Keiki program), followed by the Hanalei site July 10 through 14, and Kalapaki July 17 through 21.
The Kauai Junior Lifeguard Championships will be held at Kalapaki July 22, a week ahead of the state championships which will take place at Ala Moana Beach Park on Oahu July 29.