Sample Lifeguard Scenarios for Camp

A key component of lifeguard in-service training is practicing scenarios that are realistic to your organization’s operations. These scenarios allow lifeguards to practice their skills and prepare them to know what to expect—and how they might feel—if an aquatic event were to happen.

Below we have compiled various camp-specific scenarios. We encourage you to utilize them throughout the summer during your in-service trainings.

When practicing a scenario, below are some best practices:

  • Clear Objective: Always have a clear objective for each scenario and break it down for guards so everyone is on the same page.
  • Time Limit: Based on the complexity of the scenario, set a time limit to create a sense of urgency. If practicing more than one scenario, take a break and reset. If you need to go through the scenario multiple times so the entire team can practice, make sure you are engaging with the other guards so they don’t lose focus.
  • Realistic Staffing: When practicing a scenario, make sure you are practicing it with the same number of guards that you will have on a typical day. For example, if there are typically only two guards, practice scenarios with only two guards.
  • Environment Specific: Modify the scenario to fit your environment. For example, the same scenario can be practiced in shallow or deep water, in the spa/hot tub or lap pool, and at the pool/waterfront or deck/locker room.
  • Feedback: Provide feedback immediately following a scenario. Focus on what went well, and areas of improvement. Allow the team to provide self-feedback/evaluation and, when appropriate, peer-to-peer feedback.

Sample Scenarios

Below are some common situations at camp where a lifeguard may have to intervene and respond to an incident. During in-service, set-up a drill that mirrors this scenario and prompts lifeguards to make a rescue from start to finish. Please feel free to add to these to make them more specific to your camp’s programs.

Tubing Incident
During watersports, a group of campers are tubing. While speeding over a big wave, a camper falls off the tube. When they appear at the surface, they seem disoriented and unable to swim back to the boat.

Missing Buddy
During open swim, you initiate a buddy check to make sure that all the campers are accounted for. A distressed camper quickly reports that their buddy is missing. They last saw them near the dock area.

During open swim, a bunch of campers are playing on the Wibit. Suddenly, one of the campers looks to be having a seizure and falls into the water.

Canoe Tip Over
One of your programs involves campers canoeing in open water. During programming, one of the canoes tips over. This launches the campers into the water and they are struggling to stay afloat.

Illness During Buoy Swim
One morning, a group of campers are participating in a buoy swim. About a ½ mile offshore, a swimmer falls ill. The lifeguards, who are on paddle boards supervising, have no means of communication back to camp.

Tangled on Zip Line
While zip-lining into the water, a camper becomes tangled on the line. They are suddenly stranded, and hovering above the water.

Blob Incident
While being launched from the blob, a camper lands awkwardly into the water. They appear to be disoriented and report loss of feeling in their legs.