It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Raul Rehnborg loves going to work every day.
The director of Soak City U.S.A. in Buena Park, Calif., oversees a staff of roughly 350, including 160 to 170 guards during peak season. “We have the best jobs in the world,” Rehnborg says. “It is a real rewarding experience.”
His staff can’t help but feed off his exuberance. As Soak City’s area manager, Natalie Holtz, notes, “You can see the passion pouring out of him.”
Rehnborg went to work for Soak’s adjacent theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm, in 1987. He shifted over to Soak City when it opened three seasons ago.
Those who have known Rehnborg for years still shake their heads in wonderment. You see, Rehnborg has a degree in aerospace engineering from California State Polytechnic University and once worked for TRW, the defense contractor that also deals with NASA. Yes, Rehnborg is an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist.
“He has endured ridicule and disappointment from family and friends for pursuing a career that others view as less important,” Holtz says.
But, in talking with Rehnborg, one quickly realizes he treats his current position with the utmost importance. He talks proudly of Soak City’s safety record, registering perfect scores of 100 during each of Ellis & Associates’ three surprise audits this past season. “We have one of the best groups of lifeguards out there,” Rehnborg states.
“One of the best things is training the employees from the beginning,” he adds. “It’s different from a theme park. It’s very challenging and regimented.” Rehnborg is directly involved in the recruiting and training of guards and is a certified instructor.
In turn, he also knows the importance of staff-appreciation gestures. Soak City has programs to recognize quality work, and sets up a mid-summer Lifeguard Olympics simply for fun. They make their own costumes, their own cheers and compete in a variety of events.
On a typical day, however, Rehnborg just likes to stroll the park, mixing with guests and staff. He likes to hop on a ride just like anyone else. His favorite? Old Man Falls, a high-speed body slide. “It’s fast and it’s a lot of fun. … It’s a blast.”
A blast? That must be the rocket scientist talking.