It’s no secret, the number of teens joining the summer workforce has been plummeting since the 90s. According to a Pew Research study, nearly 60% of teens in the 1970s and 80s spent their summers staffing stores, pools and libraries, but only 35% of teens held summer jobs in 2017.
Kids are spending more time in school, taking summer classes, or choosing off-the-radar side hustles like managing small business social media accounts and building websites. The rise of Amazon has also reduced the demand for seasonal work at malls, bookstores, and other retailers, making it tougher for teens and young adults to find jobs.
But in the field of parks and recreation, the demand for summer work is still high. Every summer, local park and recreation agencies search for large numbers of qualified teens and young adults to fill guard chairs, run summer camps, work service desks, and join maintenance crews.
The young workforce is the lifeblood of the industry. In just the short summer season of May-August, the Oak Brook Park District employs more than 200 part-timers that collectively earn more than $600,000. From receiving advanced first aid and lifesaving skills to creating a welcoming and secure environment for children in summer camps, these valuable team members provide invaluable services to the community.
Right now, the Oak Brook Park District is looking to fill more than 100 summer positions in its aquatics department. The park district operates a nationally recognized indoor and outdoor aquatic facility and recently renewed a management agreement with the Village of Oak Brook to take on the aquatic operations of the historic Bath & Tennis Club. A large number of swim instructors, water aerobics instructors, and lifeguards are needed to ensure a successful season.
So why should teens and young adults consider diving in to a traditional summer aquatics job? All jobs will provide a new skill set, but in aquatics, you’ll definitely get an edge.
Re-immersion into an unplugged society.
Guards and swim instructors not only spend extended amounts of time away from devices and social media, they become part of a team. They practice face to face multi-generational social interaction, develop observation skills, and are trained to execute extended periods of intense focus.
You will learn quickly how you respond to stressful situations. Guards are trained in advanced first-aid, rescue, and CPR/AED skills and trusted to respond to emergency situations. Young professionals that choose to become swim instructors are charged with managing multiple children in the water while successfully teaching basic water safety and swimming skills, and communicating progress to the students’ parents.
Improved academic performance.
Oak Brook Park District’s new aquatics manager, Rob Bond, is also a former mathematics teacher for Warren Township High School and St. Viator High School. He says that “lifeguards show higher focus and are better able to stay on task than typical students.” According to Bond, lifeguards are in a rotational position that requires them to be in chair for 20 minutes and 20 minutes down. During “down time” guards are still part of an emergency response team, but they are not frontline and can shift their focus elsewhere. Some of them choose to read, or do summer coursework.
A foundation for the future.
Lifeguarding not only demonstrates an elevated sense of responsibility and maturity, being part of a team develops the right social and leadership skills for future jobs. Not to mention, having advanced first-aid and CPR/AED skills is important for anyone looking to enter a career in the medical, athletic, educational, or emergency response fields. Swim instructors get first-hand experience in understanding how individuals learn differently from one another and planning out how to approach each person to meet his or her individual needs. This is a tremendous skill to have in any profession.
Cold hard cash.
Oak Brook Park District strives to provide the very best recreational opportunities available for its community. To attract and retain top candidates, summer wages are very competitive. Swim instructors and lifeguard positions start at $9.25 per hour. Pool managers start at $12 per hour, and you can earn up to $20 per hour as a private swim instructor. Plus, seasonal employees have access to summer fitness memberships at the park district and there’s additional earning potential for staff willing to work special events.
Whether you’re saving for college, looking to be part of a team, or looking for a fun and rewarding experience this summer, check out all the summer employment opportunities available at the Oak Brook Park District.