Wasn’t it just yesterday those new guards reported for season opening training? How the season has flown by! From new employees eagerly anticipating the new season, your lifeguards have become experienced workers, happily anticipating not putting on a swimsuit every morning, not having to listen to one more game of “Marco Polo” and definitely not having to tell those problem kids, yet again, to walk on the deck. The season is ending and, for the most part, your guard staff is ready to move on.

If you’re operating a year-round program, most likely that program also has sessions or program seasons — some form of temporary stop and start. This might be as short as a week-long shutdown for maintenance or as long as a winter season closure for an outdoor pool. A program season also is a time of closure, even if that closure is of shorter, more temporary duration.

While your staff may be ready to move on, or at least vacation, there’s more to a season end than just bidding everyone a fond farewell or throwing an end-of-year party. How you end your season could define how well your next season will begin.  Just as you started and ran your program in a professional manner, you also must close with that same professionalism.  Here’s how:

First, establish a closing timeline. What must you accomplish to efficiently close operations? Consider the following.

• Perform final staff evaluations and evaluation conferences.

• Clean and store equipment.

• Evaluate equipment needs for next season.

• Order equipment needed for next season.

• Hold special season-closing patron events such as Parents Day, Dog Days, Bring a Guest Days.

• Evaluate maintenance needs.

• Contract for all needed repairs.

• Choose the pool draining date.

• Decide the full facility clean-out date

• Set the date for repairs to start and finish.

• Determine the date to refill the pool.

• Work out the calendar for new staff recruitment, hiring and training for next season.

Next, notify your guards and facility employees of the closing timeline. Specifically, they should know at least the dates and plans for:

• Final evaluations.

• Working hours.

• Extra paid time for equipment cleaning, facility clean-out, and other maintenance.

• Employment interests for next season.

Don’t forget to notify the public and promote next season. This might include providing information regarding:

• Special end of season/program events.

• The date for last session activity.

• The start date for next season, including enrollment and activity begin dates.

• Discounts for early registration, bringing in a new participant and/or multiple family member rates.

• Progression from one level of activity to the next if lessons, age or height qualifications are involved.

When you reach that program activity finish date, your work is really just beginning. Now is the time to take particular care of your equipment and aquatics facility. Managing equipment includes:

• Taking a complete and accurate inventory.

• Cleaning all equipment prior to storage.

• Repairing any damaged equipment, trashing equipment beyond repair.

• Ordering replacement equipment for next season.

• Storing equipment in a secure location, out of the way of maintenance workers and/or any individuals who also may be using that same facility in your absence.

After all of your program equipment is in storage, pool and general facility maintenance and repairs can begin. Here is the point where you make your physical plant better than it was during your past season. You’re preparing for the future. To do so, it is important to clean out the past. Pay particular attention to the following areas:

• Office – clean out desks and food storage areas. Secure all operating files and confidential records.

•  Locker rooms – empty all lockers, clean  the shower and dressing areas. Be sure storage areas are in good order and secured.

• Bulletin boards – remove old material. Put up season opening announcements.

• Food service areas – sanitize all food prep areas. Empty and clean all food storage areas.

• Lounge areas – remove all old magazines and trash. Clean furniture.

• Visitor areas/bleachers – clean all seating areas. Do a full pull-out of all movable bleachers and thoroughly clean underneath.

Last, but certainly not least, all reports should be completed, filed correctly, and those files secured. When you finish that filing, put your feet up and celebrate the season's end. 

Ultimately, you should leave your facility better than it was for the start of your last season:  All equipment clean, in good condition, stored appropriately. Pool drained, cleaned, repairs done, and filled with water (or ready to fill) for next season. When the entire facility is clean and ready to start a new season, you have closed like a real professional.