Successful special events can be as
easy as ABC. Just ask the staff at the Rancho Simi Recreation
District in Simi Valley, Calif., who put that simple formula to
work when creating the “ABCs of a Safe
The one-day event, held in conjunction with the local fire department, American
Red Cross and a local naval base, teaches kids how to have a fun
and safe summer in the pool and throughout the community.
Instruction includes bicycle safety and fire
The staff distributed more than 18,000 event fliers to local schools and
day-care facilities. “It really was a community
effort,” says Gloria Bowman, aquatics coordinator for the
Rancho Simi Parks and Recreation District.
In addition to swim-team demonstrations, the district incorporated its Rookie
School lifeguard program into the event. The senior guards evaluate
rookie guards, many of whom teach swim lessons to youngsters.
Parents also were given the opportunity to have their
children’s swimming abilities evaluated and to register early
for summer swim lessons.
“[The evaluations] help to reduce the first-day anxiety for lessons
because both kids and instructors know what to expect,”
Bowman says. “The atmosphere is so informal…
there’s time to talk with the staff, the children get to be
with a variety of instructors, and the staff learns the value of
lesson planning and the appropriate use of
Another feature of the “ABCs of a Safe Summer” is the Super
Guard demonstration, in which a senior guard is forced to control a
difficult situation, such as reacting to children floundering in a
rubber raft. In these situations, children can put themselves and
other swimmers in danger.
“With this program, our guards receive positive reinforcement,”
Bowman says. “We see them in action and the public sees our
training, and it reinforces positive relationships and