Take Five: Reenie Boyer celebrates 40 years of NB Junior Lifeguard Program

By DIANNE RUSSELL

In 1984, lifeguard Reenie Boyer founded the Junior Lifeguard Program in Newport Beach with approximately 50 participants. Last week, 1,400+ youngsters enrolled in two sessions (morning and afternoon), with dozens of instructors teaching them about ocean and water safety. The program is celebrating its 40th anniversary – an occasion marked by the opening of the new Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards’ headquarters on June 18.

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Photos courtesy of Reenie Boyer

Reenie Boyer during her days as lifeguard

The 5,400-square-foot facility replaces the trailer that the program previously operated out of near Balboa Pier.

This year’s program will wrap-up in early August. In addition to regular lessons, an Iron Man competition is scheduled for July 13 and the famed “Monster Mile” is planned for July 25.

Stu News caught up with Boyer to gather some insight into the program, its background and what the future might hold.

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Boyer (in red) with Junior Lifeguard instructors at the building dedication

Q: How did you originally become involved with the Junior Lifeguard Program?

A: I went through Lifeguard Rookie school training for the City of Huntington Beach in 1976. I started working as a Seasonal Ocean Lifeguard (towers, zero tower on the pier, units and junior lifeguards) for eight summers. The HB Junior Lifeguard Program was already very well established at that time.

Q: When you came to Newport Beach in 1984, what were your hopes for the program? Did you have any idea that it would gain such popularity that it would draw 1,400 participants (as it did this year)?

A: I always wished for a successful City of Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Program. We had a slow start, with only three potential Junior Lifeguards showing up at the first swim test in 1984. The first summer we had about 50 participants. I never imagined the program would become so popular. I am very honored the City of Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Program has become a rite of passage for the youth of our community to learn about ocean safety.

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Boyer speaking at the opening of the new Junior Lifeguard Headquarters on June 18

Q: How has the program evolved over the years?

A: We grew from 50 participants to more than 1,400 in a few years. I also contribute our success to community support. We were fortunate to engage with local businesses and foundations in our early years.  Many thanks to The John Wayne Cancer Foundation, Hoag Hospital Wipe Out, 15th Street Surf Shop, Balboa Beach Company, The Balboa Island Ferry, Fun Zone, Daily Pilot, local car dealerships, etc. Thank you to everyone in the community.

Q: What have been the biggest challenges and the biggest rewards over the years?

A: One of the biggest challenges was our rapid growth. The continued leadership of our Junior Lifeguard Instructors was critical to our success! They rose to the challenges and continue to be the most cherished and valuable asset to the program.

The reward is knowing we worked countless hours to make a positive impact in the community we all love.

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Boyer with her husband, Greg, at the dedication

Q: What are the plans for the future of the program and how involved are you in its day-to-day workings?

A: I am pleased and proud of the City of Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard program that was founded in 1984. There have been many directors of the program since I retired in 2009; the directors have all contributed and added their personal touch to the program’s legacy. At this time, I am the City of Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Program’s best cheerleader!

Safety first, Safety last!


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