Christmas shopping can be hectic enough without having to drag several children around from mall to mall.
Parents in Sumner, Wash., however, have an option. Each year, the Sumner High School pool offers a Holiday Shopping Night that allows parents to drop off children age 6 and older. From 6 to 10 p.m., the youngsters can swim, watch movies and eat pizza while their parents play Santa’s helpers.
The idea for Holiday Shopping Night, as well as ideas for other holiday programming, came from both staff and parents. “We talked to parents and asked what they thought,” says Tamara Elvins, aquatic facility manager for the Sumner pool. “[Parents] don’t just want their kids to be watched; they want the kids [to be where] they can have fun, and be safe and well supervised.”
Holiday Shopping Night not only attracts lots of kids, but it also gives the facility exposure to new clients. “People [at special programs] are going to pick up your schedule and look at your meat-and-potatoes programs, too,” Elvins says.
Sumner Pool has a tradition of offering special events tied to holidays. For the Fourth of July Patriot Games celebration, staffers solicit local cinemas, restaurants, arcades and even professional sports franchises to donate prizes for kids.
On Halloween, the pool hosts “Swampy Swim,” which includes pumpkin races, apple bobs and other games. The Easter celebration features a treasure hunt, as well as food and other games.
Besides the special holiday activities, Sumner Pool offers a wide variety of swim lessons for all ages; diving, water polo and swim teams; and boating safety and basic water-rescue classes.
As one of the Best of Aquatics judges commented, “A lot of aquatic facilities could learn from them.”