Naperville parks recruiting to fill lifeguard shortage
It may be an iconic job of summer, but the role of Centennial Beach lifeguard hasn't been an easy one to fill for Naperville Park District.
Seeking to hire at least 50 guards by the beach's opening this May, park officials say they are ramping up their recruitment efforts to find workers ready to keep the swimming public safe.
Extra outreach to high schools, fire departments and water polo teams is underway to fill the ranks of guards who will occupy lookout perches along the perimeter and kayaks on the water of the historic swimming facility.
"One of the areas that we are really focused on this year is lifeguards based on the shortages that we had last year," said Brad Wilson, director of recreation. "There's certainly a big push that is taking place for additional lifeguards."
Recruiting began Jan. 5 when the district hosted a student job fair in conjunction with the Naperville nonprofit organization KidsMatter. Wilson said the event allowed the district to pitch the position to teens looking for seasonal work.
The district so far has 30 lifeguard applications in hand, and Executive Director Ray McGury said he considers that on track toward meeting the 50-hire goal in time for swimming season.
Lifeguard pay starts at $11 an hour for shallow-water guards who are needed to work Memorial Day through Labor Day. It rises to $12.50 an hour for full-facility guards, $13 for assistant head guards and $13.50 for head guards, all positions that require more experience, qualifications and leadership skills.
Wilson said most guards need to be capable of watching over the entire swimming area -- including the lap lanes, deep end and diving well -- so the district plans to hire about 38 full-facility guards and 12 for the shallow end only.
Lifeguards must be able to enforce beach rules, monitor guests, notice swimmers in distress, provide emergency rescue and first aid when needed, maintain safety equipment and help keep the facility clean, according to a job description on the park district's website. Guards must be at least 16 years old with certifications in CPR and first aid.
For each guard hired, the district provides training and pays a training wage to attend.
Wilson said lifeguard recruiters already visited students at Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools -- the two closest to the beach. And he's working with administrators at Metea, Neuqua and Waubonsie Valley high schools as well as Benet Academy and Plainfield East and North high schools to schedule time in front of their students as well.