If you have been operating a waterpark or aquatics facility for even a short amount of time, it’s likely you have been stumped when it comes to creative and relevant in-service topics. I have compiled a few ideas that can help you overcome this hurdle and ensure your team looks forward to attending in-service training on a regular basis.

1. Mix up your location or schedule. Instead of always holding in-service training at the same pool, on the same day, at the same time, think about moving to a different pool, classroom or beach if you have other facilities available, and at a different time than usual. This will give your team the opportunity to learn about a facility where they may not often work and build camaraderie among the different groups. Some facilities run in-service training only once per month; others run it 7 days per week to keep the instructor to student ratios at a reasonable level. The possibilities are endless . Don’t be afraid to try something new.

2. Invite guests. Ask an instructor from another facility, neighboring park or city to run your in-service training and then do the same for their team. Sometimes hearing the same information from someone else will help it sink in and reinforce the importance of what you have been saying all along. Plus, it can be fun for your team to meet other instructors and leaders in your area.

3. Involve other departments and partners. Can you incorporate your local EMS/fire department into training and run a full EAP? This is an excellent educational tool for your lifeguard team because they will get the opportunity to see exactly what will happen when EMS shows up and starts providing additional care to your guest. Can you invite your HR or training team to observe in-service training? This is an easy way to spread your message to other decision-makers and reinforce how important aquatic safety is to the entire organization.

4. Utilize the Web. Many organizations have online learning available and both WWA and IAAPA offer webinars on a regular basis. Get your team together to participate in one of these – many of them are low cost or free of charge!

5. Survey your lifeguards. Have you directly asked your frontline team which skills they feel are weak and what they want to improve? You may be able to build an in-service session based on their needs.

6. Include junior management. Offer your junior management the opportunity to create an in-service training plan. Under the supervision of a qualified instructor, use your head lifeguards, team leaders or experienced lifeguards who are not yet instructors to come up with a topic. Allow them to run a pilot using current instructors as their students. If all goes well, let them conduct the in-service session (still with instructor supervision).

Have you tried any of these techniques or others for improving your in-service program? I’d love to hear your comments and ideas! Let me know in the comments section below.