Life Savers … and Other Joys of Summer

It’s here. Summer. Finally.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Laurie Mcdermott

It’s here. Summer. Finally.

The school year is ending. Gone are the moments of picking up this kid, dropping off that one, taking them to soccer, football, ballet, ping-pong (hopeful for that “odd” scholarship), forcing study, scrutinizing grades, wrangling homework, till someone starts whining, and I realize, “Oh no! I forgot to feed you people!”

When my hubby and I first moved to the South Bay, I was determined: “My kids will play like me when I was a kid—in the street, with all the other kids on the block.”   

The response: “What kids? Everyone else is in organized sports.”

Which is why I look forward to summer. No stress, no competition, no sports.

One summer I put the kids in nothing. Nothing. Every day we would either hang at home or go to the beach, with blankets, buckets and enthusiasm! By the end of the summer, everyone hated each other.  

Then I discovered Junior Guards. I say “discovered,” because when a mom asked me, “Is Ty doing Junior Guards this summer?” … I learned. The California Junior Lifeguard Program is five weeks of beach and water safety, swimming, body surfing, surfing, first aid, lifesaving, rescue and CPR for kids ages 9 to 17.

After one week of class, Ty pointed to a lifeguard stand and said, “That flag on top means that someone is on duty in there!” My husband, Brad, and I were impressed; even we didn’t know that. Did you?

Benefits of the program? Endless. But ours was that our skinny, scrawny, short kid became confident, self-assured and comfortable in his ability to conquer something even I think is terrifyingly scary. He was proud.

The real benefit is that while most three-hour camps run a painful $250-plus a week, the Junior Guard program is less than $500 for the whole five weeks! Can you say “woo-hoo!?”

The only bummer to the guard program is that kids must try out to make it. That means training and more driving for mom (“moan” here). Training classes are costly, but once you are in, you’re in every year, as long as kids don’t miss more than five days in a summer.

Be careful: Thinking it would be educational to have my kids watch Discovery Channel’s Shark Week last summer cost us therapy sessions and many nights of, “Let’s all sleep in one bed again!”

The more moms educate kids on water safety, the less chance I’ll have to follow mine when they do beach days with friends. At least, that’s what I tell my kids when they say they’re going to quit Junior Guards. “Do you want freedom or Mom in a floppy hat?”

Laurie McDermott is an award-winning comedian,
travel writer and host of