Friday, September 28, 2012

Guarding the World: OJT Training & KAPA

Do you see the hidden Mickey? credit
This post continues my "Guarding the World" saga of becoming Disney & Ellis Certified in order to begin my role as a lifeguard at Disney's Contemporary Resort and Bay Lay Tower. "There be rough waters ahead!"

If you missed the previous posts, be sure to read about my Ellis lifeguard Class Day 1 and Days 2 &3.

9/16 Sunday 8:30am-5:00pm

First day OJT Training

This was my first day in full costume. That meant the white polo, red swimsuit, red shorts, hip pack, whistle, name tag, hat, and sunglasses. Oh and don't forget those black crocs!

I took the bus to the Contemporary Resort. I was early enough to go to my locker by Costuming to put things away. I waited until about 10 minutes till 8:30am, clocked in, and headed out to the Coordinator's office. My trainer was a Kelly, from Louisiana who has like 3 kids, but if you didn't know that you would assume she was like 20. She looks very young (in a good way!). She did her Disney College Program at Hollywood Studios working at the Great Movie Ride (jealous!), and she was a theatre major. Lifeguarding with Disney was her first lifeguarding experience and training me and another boy from my lifeguard class (Sam) was her first training experience. She kept reminding us that this was her first time training, but honestly I would have never known if she hadn't said anything!

We started the day at 8:30am just talking and making sure we were in the lifeguard look. Also Kelly told us to take off our "Earning our Ears" sticker because guests don't like to see Lifeguards "Earning their Ears." I was happy to oblige. Besides I already did earn my ears as a Lifeguard. Now I was just getting trained on a specific pool.

We went to costuming to get Sam a hat and then just talked until around 9:45am when the lifeguards come in for "Break Out," a little talk with the Coordinators before everyone goes out to their first stand at 10:00am. Then we helped with the "Magical Moment," which is how they open the pool. They pick 2 kids (today we chose 4) and let them wear a sorcerer Mickey's hat and gloves. Kelly told the kids, "Usually we get Mickey to turn on the slides and fountains, but he's busy today, so you guys are going to have to help us out." They teach the kids a little dance and then do the dance 3 times to turn on the fountain, spray wall, and finally the slide. It really is pretty impressive when they get the timing down right, and it looks like the kids are causing the water to turn on.

The rest of the day was a wave of information. Not like overwhelming because we went over the same things over and over. But enough of the same that I can't remember the exact breakdown of the day. We walked both of the pools multiple times (Contemporary and Bay Lake Tower), Kelly pointed out where everything was located like Towels for guests, trauma bags, red phones, backboards, first aid kits, drink stations, restrooms. Anything that we would need as a lifeguard and pretty much anything a guest might want to know. We sat down several times in the day and just talked through the layout of the pools and how to make radio calls. We also had a lot of time during the day to ask questions. I asked a lot of questions, and I specifically asked to get VATed, so I could start getting used to that experience. We also had about an hour where we read through the OGs (operating guides) on the hub. I especially enjoyed the section dedicated to "Shooing Ducks." (Shooing not shooting!)

Overall it was a good day, and I was starting to feel comfortable enough with the area. The only downsides to the day was that I learned that they no longer cross train guards in things, like Children's Activites or to work at multiple hotels. That was incredibly disappointing, since I would've loved to pick up shifts, but I am still not taking no as an answer. I'm still hopeful for more training...

9/17 Monday 12:30pm-9:00pm

Second day OJT Bay Lake Tower

Our second day was more of the same, but this time with a lot more VATs. First Kelly would just put the VAT in different places and see if we could spot it. Then later we would turn around, let her place the VAT, and she would choose one of us to scan in and jump in for the VAT. It was great practice, and I'm really glad we got to do it.

Kelly was really impressed with us (we'd both lifeguarded before) and felt like she was running out of things to teach us, so she developed a scavenger hunt for us to do on our second day. She left us alone during our lunch, so she could put her clues all around the pool deck. Then she gave us the first clue and let us begin. It was actually a lot of fun! My family used to do Scavenger Hunts for Easter and different holidays when all the cousins were little, so it made me think of that. One of the clues was even planted on a roving guard! (When I was a baby one of our scavenger hunt clues was planted....on my diaper---that brought back memories!) It really was a great idea, and I hope she continues to do it with new guards.

During the day a storm came in, and we had to close the pools for "electrical activity." There were some lightning strikes that were right on top of us! It was a very good experience to witness how they close the pool for weather. Once they cleared everything, we huddled in the pavilion at Comtemporary pool and handed out towels to guests coming in from the boats who had to run through the rain. Those guests were super appreciative!

We had more time to read another OG and attended "Break out" at the end of the lifeguard's shift. Then we had an hour to kill, so we just talked till it was 9:00pm, and our shift was over.

 9/18 Tuesday 2:00pm-6:00pm

Lifeguard KAPA aka Test out day

This is the view from the Rove Lifeguard stand, where I was VATed.

I'm not sure what KAPA stands for (nor did my trainer), but it's the final day of training I had as a Contemporary lifeguard. Let me just say now, I was terrified for my KAPA day. Not cause I did not know my lifeguard skills or the layout of the Contemporary. I paid very close attention to all my training and was honestly really prepared. I just didn't know what to expect and if I would get VATed and that just made me exceptionally nervous. Plus I had a different trainer facilitating my KAPA.

My KAPA wasn't until 2:00pm, so I had my morning free. I went to my first Career Development workshop (resume writing). I'm glad I did, first because I learned a lot and second because it kept my mind of my KAPA.

Once I got started with my KAPA day though, I was cool as a cucumber. My trainer just said we were going to go through a rotation, starting at Bay Lake Tower, and I would just scan in and out like I would if I was the guard on duty. As soon as I started that, my lifeguard skills just kind of kicked in and it all felt like second nature. I was really calm, until we moved over to the Contemporary pool. Then I knew something was up. I was going to be VATed. My trainer was talking to the other guards, probably giving them a warning. Next thing I know a guy in red swim suit trunks (always a big give away) is laying something black at the bottom of my zone. I whistle, jump in, and retrieve it and Chelsea, my trainer, is congratulating me. I scan out of Rove and move onto the other 2 lifeguard stands at Contemporary.

After I'm done with all my rotations, Chelsea tells me how well I've done. She says she's never gone through a KAPA this fast. During each of my stands, she's been either out of sight watching my scanning or behind me asking me random questions as herself or as a pretend guest. She even said she was trying to stump me, but I still knew the answer to everyone one of her questions. She says she's really impressed, and she doesn't really say that ever. She says she's actually a pretty strict trainer. So that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, especially since I've really upped my lifeguard game for Disney.

After pool time Chelsea took me inside, so I could complete an online test. I only missed about 2 questions, mostly because they are weirdly worded. After I was done with all of my online quiz stuff, I was done. It was almost 4:00pm, and in my head I'm thinking, "That's all?" I got at ER (early release) and headed home, happy to finally be an official Contemporary Resort Lifeguard.

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