OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — There has been a lifeguard shortage across the metro, and all over the country.
Due to the shortage, the City of Omaha has only been able to open ten of its pools at a time this summer. However, hopes are with its recruiting efforts, it won’t be the case next year.
For the second straight year the city will hold a Junior Lifeguard Camp August 1 – 4.
The camp is for kids ages 11 through 14 and gives them an idea of what being a city lifeguard is all about, along with a head start on their certification.
It also creates a pipeline for lifeguards in the city for years to come.
"We were able to get some of those kids from last year into that camp that became lifeguards for us this year,” City of Omaha Recreation Manager Chris Haberling said. “I think those kids will be able to get a chance to see what lifeguarding is like and be able to recruit their friends, and hopefully we get more staff and are able to open more pools next year because of it."
Haberling says this year’s staff has been fantastic and they are focused on retaining and promoting the lifeguards for next year. However, he knows they also need to continue to look for future prospects.
"It's more important now than ever to work ahead,” Haberling said. “In the past we started to work six months ahead. Now, we have to work a year or more ahead of time just to make sure we get enough staff.”
The city has made the change to its pools that are open this past weekend.
As of July 8, Cryer, Roanoke, Gallagher, and Hanscom are now closed for the season.
Deer Ridge, Karen, Oak Heights, and Spring Lake are now open through August 7. These pools join Camelot, Elkhorn, Elmwood, Hitchcock, Miller and Zorinsky which have been open since the start of the season.
Council Bluffs, which had been alternating which of its two pools were open each week, now has enough staff to keep both of its pools open six days a week.
For more information on the junior lifeguard camp, contact Amanda English at 402-444-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.