I’m a morning person – I’m usually up by 5 or 5:30 AM, sometimes even a bit earlier than that…and I don’t have to set an alarm to do it. But on Monday this week, I actually did set my alarm for 4:00 AM so I could get in line for the Capitola Junior Guards Registration at the Capitola Recreation office at Jade Street Park.
In case you haven’t heard, the Capitola Junior Guards is a program that gives instruction in the fundamentals of ocean water safety, first aid, lifesaving, fitness, and good sportsmanship. The program features open water swimming, paddle boarding, body surfing, surfing, mock rescues, beach & water games, calisthenics and work-outs. There are two sessions each summer, each lasting about a month, with classes every day, Monday through Friday.
Photo Gallery – Capitola Junior Guards Registration
When my alarm went off that morning, I tumbled out of bed and into my clothes, grabbed my keys and a light jacket, and headed out the door. I didn’t know what to expect – I figured I’d probably be one of a handful of people there when I showed up around 4:20 AM.
Imagine my surprise when I got there and found that I was already the 16th person in line at that time. Three people had actually spent the night, to make sure they got into the session they wanted to. It was fun to see that a half dozen friends of mine were already in line, too.
It turns out, that was no coincidence – my wife had talked with a bunch of other moms and they’d decided they wanted our kids to be in the afternoon “class” in the first session. There was some drama, though: there was a notice on the glass door of the Recreation office indicating that only ten spots were available for the class that we wanted.
Video – Capitola Junior Guards Registration Line
Almost everyone in line had a six year old kid, like my son, and they all wanted the first session afternoon class as well. There are two classes per age group per session, and the morning class was full even before registration day. This is because slots are given automatically (to those who want them) to children of families who have previously been registered for the Junior Guards.
As the hours wore by, the line got longer – a lot longer. Around 6:30 AM or so, someone from the Capitola Junior Lifeguards Parents Club brought over some great Peet’s coffee – that was a nice surprise! A little before 8:30 AM (when the Recreation office opened), someone came out and put numbered stickers on everyone, which identified their place in the queue. I’d say there were close to 150 people who got a numbered sticker before the doors even opened. Happily, it turned out that they had mis-counted the number of available slots; 15 were available for the class my friends and I had wanted, and I was able to register my son successfully.
I have lived in Santa Cruz for over twenty years now, and I’ve been aware of the Junior Guards for much of that time. It’s a local institution, and you could really feel the sense of community which was I think shared by everyone standing in that line with me. I’m so happy that our son Aiden will get to be in a class with so many of his friends. Technically he won’t be a Junior Guard – he’ll be a Little Guard, which are kids aged 6 through 8. I’m looking forward to seeing him progress and grow over the years with the Capitola Junior Guards.