The YMCA Camp Surf Lifeguard Service

We have safely operated our own lifeguard service since YMCA Camp Surf started running programs in 1971. As our programs have evolved, so too has our lifeguard service, and we have been a United States Lifesaving Association (USLA) certified site since 2000. This is the standard the USA's best City and State Park lifeguard agencies adhere to. Each spring and summer we hire counselors and program instructors with backgrounds in aquatic sports, pool and ocean life guarding. The Waterfront director and coordinator put them through rigorous and comprehensive training to ensure all guests at YMCA Camp Surf are safe while participating in ocean activities.


YMCA Camp Surf lifeguard training is an intensive program integrating the following three components that focus on prevention and being prepared.

1. Physical Fitness and Ocean Skills

Each day of training begins with an intense 6am workout including rescue board paddling, ocean swimming, running, or a combination of all three. Workouts challenge the trainees' fitness level, increase skills with equipment, and familiarize them with the environment they will be working in (YMCA Camp Surf waterfront, the rock jetties, and the Imperial Beach Pier). All lifeguards at YMCA Camp Surf must complete an ocean swim of 600 yards in 10 minutes or less, and run 1 mile in 8 minutes or less. These are the minimum qualifying standards.

2. 40 Hour USLA Open Water Lifesaving Course

We cover the USLA Open water lifesaving manual, which includes everything from weather and ocean conditions to observation techniques, communication, preventative lifeguarding and rescue techniques. All theory is solidified by practical scenarios on our waterfront and tested in a written exam.

3. Title 22 First Aid, CPR-PRO, AED and Oxygen Administration

These certifications cover body systems and functions, potential complications and injuries, victim assessment, the Emergency Response system and treatment. We use equipment in training that is used in the field to ensure our staff are fully prepared and familiar with all tools necessary to provide care in a emergency. Again, all skills are practiced in scenarios and followed up with a written test.


Our lifeguards are equipped to respond to situations that may occur on our waterfront. Guards carry First Aid equipment in the towers and have ready access to an AED, Oxygen tank, and major trauma kit either in our 4x4 emergency vehicle or in the main lifeguard tower. The YMCA Camp Surf waterfront consists of three separate towers, as well as a 4x4 Toyota Tacoma truck to provide an additional vantage point, for optimal scanning coverage and to offer support and transportation. We are in communication with the Imperial Beach Lifeguard Service to cover the area south of our waterfront and to provide support in an emergency.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions about our aquatic programming or lifeguard service at YMCA Camp Surf.

Kyle Millard
Waterfront Director [email protected] 619-423-5850