Lessons from Lifeguards

In the Eskenazi Water Park, the people are broken out into two separate yet equally important groups: the JCC members and guests, who are splashing in the sun, and the lifeguards, who are watching over them. These are the latter group’s stories.

Dagim, Sam and Maia are all familiar faces at the water park — Dagim is returning for his second summer, while Sam and Maia are back for their third. In that time, they’ve been able to turn their passions into their purposes. “As a confident swimmer, I thought, ‘Maybe I can help people who don’t feel as confident,'” Dagim said. Sam enjoys helping others generally, which is a given in his role, and Maia is excited to grow her supervisory skillset, as she was promoted to Head Lifeguard ahead of summer 2024.

Thanks to multiple summers at the water park, these guards have seen it all. “If you lose your breath, you start panicking, so that’s probably one of the most common crises,” Maia said. “People might not consider how easy it is to swallow water and not be able to breathe, or play dangerous games that could end up knocking them out, so prevention is the number one thing. We’d rather not get in and save people if it can be helped for that not to happen in the first place, but we are there if it does happen.” Sam and Dagim summed up their biggest water park tips succintly: “Be confident and be safe.”

While it may have been convenience in location, a job fair or a training course that originally brought Sam, Maia and Dagim respectively to their seasonal JCC positions, it’s the people at the J who have kept them coming back. “I felt welcome immediately, and I’ve met a lot of cool lifeguards,” Dagim said. Maia concurred, saying “My coworkers are amazing.” And Sam loves being with others who share his values: “Being able to be around a group of people who also enjoy helping people is a lot of fun,” he said.