lifeguard Delaware State Parks Beach Patrol

Hopefuls start tryouts for State Parks lifeguard jobs

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lifeguard Delaware State Parks Beach Patrol

Lifeguard candidates Noah Stollman, 15, and Cassidy Landry, 17, take part in the one-mile run during Delaware State Park Beach Patrol tryouts. Photo by Rachel Swick Mavity.

Delaware State Parks Beach Patrol Capt. Bailey Noel wants to have all four park-managed beaches open this summer.

But he needs to recruit 20 to 30 new beach patrol lifeguards to do that.

Last year, the Tower Road beach had to be closed most weekends outside of holidays because he didn’t have the staff to guard the beach. 

Noel estimates he needs 24 guards at Cape Henlopen, 28 guards at Delaware seashore beaches (Tower Road, Indian River Inlet) and 16 guards at Fenwick Island.

Guards work five to six days per week. Full beach patrol guards earn $18.75 and those who are under 16 or who are not full guards – called lifeguard assistants – earn $16.25.

“I am very optimistic this year because we have had a good turnout for our tryouts so far,” Noel said. “If those trying out don’t pass all of the tests the first time, they are able to come back out for another tryout to try again.”

Potential candidates have to swim 500 yards, freestyle stroke only, in 10 minutes, run one mile along the beach in 10 minutes, and then submit to an interview. Applicants can try out several times to improve speeds.

“I’ve been training since February for this,” said Chris McCrae, 22, of Marydel. He is a firefighter who wanted to expand his skills by joining beach patrol.

“I like helping people and a friend of mine is on beach patrol, so he suggested I come out for tryouts,” McCrae said. “I hope to be on the beach patrol and have a good summer helping people out.”

Noel grew up on the beaches and started with the beach patrol when he was 20. He left at point, but by the second summer without being on the stand, he knew he had to go back.

“It gets in your blood,” he says with a chuckle. “I am in love with it because I get to be at the beach and I get to help people.”

Lifeguard Delaware State Parks Beach Patrol

Beach Patrol Capt. Bailey Noel. left, talks to lifeguard candidates about the running portion of their tryouts. Photo by Rachel Swick Mavity.

Beach Patrol Crew Chief Ethan McIntosh agreed. This will be McIntosh’s third season with beach patrol and his first as crew chief at Cape Henlopen.

“We have seen a big shortage lately and that puts stress on the rest of us because we might have to work longer shifts or more days each week,” he said. “It especially affects us at the end of the season.”

McIntosh, who lives in Magnolia and commutes to Cape Henlopen each morning during summer, says housing is one of the biggest hurdles faced by beach patrol members.

While Delaware State Parks offers some housing, they try to reserve it for guards coming from out of state.

Delaware residents may have to find an apartment with friends near the beach or commute, as  McIntosh does.

Most of those trying out on April 16 lived in the area or had family with whom they could live.

Lifeguard hopefuls

David McCurry, 20, is from Calvert County, Maryland, but spends summers in Dewey Beach with his grandfather. 

This is his first year trying out for the beach patrol.

“I usually am a server but I am kind of tired of that,” he said. “I’m active and like to be outside, so I thought beach patrol would be good for me and more fulfilling.”

McCurry admitted the swimming tryout was the hardest part for him. He has been training for several months and plans to work hard to pass the swim test and improve his speed in the water.

If hired, each recruit must go through rookie training before officially sitting in a lifeguard stand.

Noel tells each recruit to work on strength by doing push-ups, sit-ups and air squats daily. He also wants recruits to improve speed and strength in the water and run regularly.

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Noah Stollman, 15, was the youngest to try out April 16. If offered the job, Stollman would start as a lifeguard assistant and once he turns 16 this summer, and completes rookie training, he can be a full beach patrol guard.

“I love being outdoors and I was looking to have a job this summer,” Stollman said. 

A cross country runner, Stollman felt confident he could complete the mile run in under 10 minutes to pass that portion. 

In addition to athletic ability to run and swim, the beach patrol also looks for those who have some experience in health care or first aid skills, Noel said.

“We need people who can feel confident helping people with medical issues on the beach,” Noel said.

Additional tryouts are coming up Sunday, April 30 and Sunday, May 7. Tryouts start in the pool at Sussex YMCA in Rehoboth Beach and then move to Cape Henlopen State Park for the run and interview.

If hired, they receive paid Delaware State Parks Ocean Rescue Training, Nationally Accredited DOT Emergency Medical Responder Training, CPR/AED, oxygen administration, and trauma/medical care at the professional level, and advanced certification through the U.S. Lifesaving Association.

For more information about joining the Delaware State Parks Beach Patrol, go here.


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