Mark Valance has more than one responsibility as an L.A. County lifeguard. Besides saving lives, he is also trying to dispel some myths.
"People tend to think of the Hollywood image of the lifeguard as someone who hangs around the beach and doesn't do anything and that's not true," said Valance, who lives in Thousand Oaks. "We deal with literally millions of people a year. A south swell was running over Easter Vacation and we were understaffed and working our butts off making rescues."
Dispelling myths is just one of Valance's jobs as a teacher in the county's junior lifeguard program, a unique summer camp for youths ages 10 to 17. The program will begin June 29 and Valance will spend the next six weeks teaching swimming and surfing skills as well as beach safety, first aid, Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and marine life.
Youths must pass a timed swimming test to qualify for the program. A $105 fee includes registration and uniforms. Physical conditioning will be stressed throughout the program and participants can qualify for a national junior lifeguard competition in Hawaii in August.