HANAPEPE — “Kleve Zarbaugh is getting hungry,” said Jaime Arreola, the vice president of the Kaua‘i Lifeguard Association Wednesday during the Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguard program being held at the Salt Pond Beach Park. “This means lunchtime is getting close. We’re only here to support the lifeguards.”
The Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguard program, including its Keiki, young people ages 8 through 11 years old, and the Juniors, youth ages 12 through 17 years old, launched its 2021 schedule this week at the Salt Pond Beach Park.
The popular youth summer program went to a wait list early following the May 3 registration because the program limited enrollment to just 25 youth in each division due to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines that included participating students needing a face mask to attend, social distancing strategies being utilized, and frequent sanitizing of equipment being used.
“We’re the only island in the state that’s offering the program this year,” said Kaua‘i Ocean Safety Bureau Chief Kalani Vierra. “That means there will be no state competition, this year.”
The Ocean Safety Bureau remains focused on protecting the health and safety of the island’s keiki and community, and will be following Centers for Disease Control recommended guidelines and state and county rules and mandates for COVID-19.
Prior to the pandemic, Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguards held a string of a dozen consecutive state titles ending in 2016. The Kaua‘i all-island team hiccupped in 2017, and recaptured the title during the 2018 games.
During the Kaua‘i Junior Lifeguard program, participants need to bring their own lunch, sunscreen, and a towel to each day’s events
The free program brings awareness to ocean safety and demonstrates valuable lifesaving skills as well as other areas including first aid, ocean conditions, and more that can be squeezed into this year’s program that shrank to just three days a week. Classes and demonstrations are led by some of the island’s best Ocean Safety instructors and a strong support from KLA and other community groups.
Three more programs are on the calendar for this year with the next session starting July 13 through 15 at the Hanalei Pavilion. The program moves to Wanini Beach during the week starting July 20 through 22, and the final program comes to Kalapaki Beach on July 27 through 29.