Facing increasing pool demands, DC is hiring for hundreds of summer jobs

D.C.’s Department of Parks and Recreation is hiring for hundreds of seasonal jobs, including lifeguards, which leaders say are essential to meeting increasing pool demands.

Thennie Freeman, the agency’s director, said the city is looking to fill over 700 seasonal vacancies. Some of them involve working at a city pool, but others include jobs with D.C. camps or programs.

D.C. hires about 200 lifeguards to support its pools, Freeman said. Last summer, the city reported an increase in visits to its pools as the weather got warmer. As a result, city leaders expanded their hours.

As part of a pilot program, the city also kept pools open until the last official day of summer last year, beyond Labor Day, when many outdoor pools around the region traditionally close. It’s expecting to do that again, Freeman said, making filling those openings essential.

Now, the city is asking if applicants can commit to working until Sept. 30.

“In order to serve the public and give them more, we need more people like yourself,” Freeman said, referring to community members.

As part of its recruitment efforts, Freeman said the city has a junior lifeguard academy for 13- to 15-year-olds, “so that at the age of 16, we can hire them.”

The average age for D.C.’s lifeguards is 20 years old, Freeman said, pointing out that many of them are college students. The city is recruiting to hire more, she said, because college students who attend school in other parts of the country arrive back in and then leave D.C. at different times.

“In order to keep our pools open longer, which we did last year, we used our lifeguards who are attending college locally,” Freeman said.

Lifeguards have to participate in a physical agility test and cognitive test, Freeman said, but “we do train you on those things.” Lifeguards who pass the tests become certified through the Department of Health, she said.

D.C. has been recruiting lifeguards on college campuses, and “the retired senior population has been a wonderful resource for us to tap into for our summer hiring as well,” Freeman said.

The openings, though, go beyond poolside roles. Some of them involve working with a DPR boost camp, which offers kids aged 3 to 13 “enriching recreation opportunities on-site at District schools.”

Other roles involve leading outdoor programming, such as hiking, kayaking and camping,

All seasonal roles require 40 hours per week, and applicants are subject to a background check and drug test, Freeman said.

“The biggest challenge that we’ve seen in hiring is understanding that there are certain things that you cannot do,” Freeman said.

Becoming a DPR summer employee is the fastest way to getting a permanent role with the agency, she said. Last year, over 50 people who worked summer jobs were hired as regular employees.

“Come do the summer, do great work, you will get noticed,” Freeman said. “And if there’s a spot, we’d love to keep you.”

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for Ƶapp. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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