NEW JERSEY – As summer approaches, the State Park Service is ready to kick off the season with lifeguards on duty during the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend at Island Beach State Park, picnic areas ready for families and friends to gather, and electric vehicle charging stations available at several state parks and forests, according to Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette.
Island Beach State Park will be the first location to have lifeguards on duty for the holiday weekend, and each weekend throughout June before opening for daily hours on June 19. Staggered openings are planned throughout June for swimming areas at other state parks and forests. In addition, the State Park Service has increased the number of electric vehicles charging stations at its properties and continues hiring people for a variety of seasonal positions.
“New Jersey’s state parks and forests are an excellent choice for a few hours of relaxation, a day off or a vacation,” LaTourette said. “It’s going to be a great summer and we look forward to being the public’s destination for swimming, picnicking, hiking or just quietly taking in the beauty of nature.”
Governor Phil Murphy has proposed a second year of free entrance to state parks, forests and historic sites in the FY24 budget, which is under review by the New Jersey Legislature.
Lifeguards at Island Beach State Park will be on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 27 through Monday, May 29, and then each Saturday and Sunday following until June 19, when lifeguards will be on duty daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Lakefront swim areas will open on staggered dates in mid-June.
Swimming will be available at High Point, Hopatcong, Swartswood and Wawayanda state parks in the northern part of the state; Cheesequake State Park and Round Valley Recreation Area in the central region; and Island Beach State Park, Atsion Recreation Area (Wharton State Forest), Parvin State Park and Belleplain State Forest in the south, staff permitting. Detailed swim schedules for each property are available online.
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
To make state parks, forests and recreation areas more welcoming to visitors with electric vehicles, 10 Level 2 charging stations are located on state park grounds across the state.
Two charging stations are in place and operational at Cheesequake State Park (Middlesex County), High Point State Park (Sussex County), Round Valley Recreation Area (Hunterdon County), Wawayanda State Park (Sussex and Passaic counties), and Wharton State Forest – Batsto Village (Burlington County). All charging stations are in the parks’ swimming areas, except at Wharton State Forest.
“The tourism economy, outdoor recreation and public lands are vital to New Jersey, and our state parks, forests and historic sites are ready to welcome the public,” said Assistant Commissioner for State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites John Cecil. “We recognize the importance of having the necessary amenities for people, including the ability to charge electric vehicles and swim under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. Take some time and come enjoy a day at the park, in the forest or stepping back in time at a historic site.”
A $45,000 grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities awarded in March 2022 helped fund the 10 electric vehicle chargers. Additionally, a July 2022 BPU grant included $150,000 for two DC fast chargers that will be installed at a later date at Liberty State Park in Hudson County.
Lifeguard positions continue to be available at swimming areas across the state, with salaries starting at $17.50 per hour. Oceanfront guards at Island Beach State Park start at $18.50 per hour.
While prior experience is not necessary, candidates must pass running and swim tests prior to employment. The State Park Service will train lifeguards in cardiopulmonary resuscitation/Automated External Defibrillator use, first aid and other medical matters. Each lifeguard will also receive a U.S. Lifesaving Association certification.
Lifeguard opportunities are available at High Point, Hopatcong, Swartswood and Wawayanda state parks in the northern part of the state; Cheesequake State Park and Round Valley Recreation Area in the central region; and Island Beach State Park, Atsion Recreation Area (Wharton State Forest), Parvin State Park and Belleplain state forests in the south. The State Park Service is also hiring lifeguards for Bass River State Forest to begin all required training and certifications in anticipation of a possible late summer opening.
After a successful pilot run in 2022, the State Park Service will continue expanding its aquatics program by hiring Junior Lifeguards at least 15 years old, at $16 per hour. While junior lifeguards cannot perform lifeguard duties for the public until age 16, the position provides a training head start for when they are able to provide full lifeguard duties.
Additional seasonal job opportunities with the State Park Service include general maintenance, naturalists and history educators, visitor services and office assistants. These positions start at $15 per hour and the hourly rate will increase with experience. Applications are being accepted at www.nj.gov/dep/workinparks.