At 7 a.m. Saturday, lifeguard candidates will line up to attempt to become Galveston Island Beach Patrol lifeguards.

Those who complete the swim will be interviewed, submit to a drug screening, and join our spring graduates in a run-swim-run challenge. If they get through all these obstacles, they’ll start the 100 hours of training needed to “ride the pine” and work as a tower lifeguard.

It’s not too late to tryout. Info is at www.galvestonislandbeachpatrol.com/lifeguard.

While all this is going on, returning guards who didn’t come back in the spring will be swimming, doing paperwork, and taking the drug screening test. Many of them will then head out to work for their first day this season.

We’re expecting 40 to 50 candidates to qualify for our lifeguard academy. These new guards will be a welcome addition. Not only have the crowds been unusually large for the past few weekends, but the busiest part of the year is almost upon us and we need every trained and able-bodied lifeguard we can get out there to help keep the millions who visit the beaches safe.

Weather permitting, there will be a lot going on this weekend with a paddle out ceremony for legendary G-town surfer Chris Hill, La Izquiera Surf Contest and Music Festival at the 91st Street Fishing Pier, Bring Your Mom to the Beach Day Volleyball Tournament hosted by the Gulf Coast Volleyball Association at East Beach, Historic Homes Tour and the Yaga’s Wild Game Cook-off.

Next week is the annual Beach Review, and we’re only two weeks out from what’s usually the busiest beach weekend of the year, Memorial Day Weekend.

The amount of preparation and training that has to happen each year to get all the seasonal staff, partner groups, and auxiliary staff members trained and re-trained is staggering. In addition to the Lifeguard Academy and Supervisor Training Academy within the next three weeks, we’re also looking at a Dispatch Training Academy, Public Safety Responders Basic Water Rescue Course, Surf Camp Instructors Water Rescue Course, Park Board Police Firearms Re-qualification, and a Self Defense/De-Escalation class for our Wave Watchers.

Additionally, on May 21, several first responder groups will join us for the annual “Mass Aquatic Critical Emergency Operation” (MACEO) at Stewart Beach. Joining us will be the Jesse Tree Survivor Support Network, who will use the event as a training scenario. Additionally, the new “Tourism Pays” event will be done in conjunction with MACEO. Once the Beach Patrol and the entire beach safety net gets through all this training, we’ll be sharp for Memorial Day Weekend and the summer. And as anyone who visits the beach knows, we’ll need it!

One thing to watch for is our annual barbecue fundraiser which will be June 14 at The Press Box. This has for over 20 years been the beach party of the summer, so block off your calendar. We need silent auction items, so if you’re in the giving mood email tlimon@galvestonparkboard.org.

Peter Davis is chief of the Galveston Island Beach Patrol. The views in this column are Davis’ and do not necessarily represent those of the Beach Patrol, Galveston Park Board of Trustees or any other entity.

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