Wednesday, March 29, 2006

 

Busy Week!

Well, I still haven't found a new morning guard. I was supposed to have an interview with a student who lives nearby this morning, but she's either 2 hours late or not coming. To make matters worse, one of my guards who works close to 30 hours a week has the flu. She said she'd pick up extra mornings for me, but since she's been sick, I've been working some 12 hour days, most of which is lifeguarding.

I'm a little disappointed in our central office's planning skills right now. Within a month they've planned an off-site 2-day workshop, an off-site new software training, 2 on-site marketing meetings, and a day-long neighborhood tour. While I usually have enough time to slip all of these things, they were all planned during the transition between winter and spring classes, and I'm a little overwhelmed right now.

On the plus side, I'm about to run the first ever men's only Lifeguard Training Course in JCC history... if I can find enough participants. I have a few who are definitely interested, but the Pre-Course will be run while I'm at the NIRSA conference next week, so I won't be able to fix any problems until the first day of class.

I have a ton of work to get done since I leave on Tuesday, so that's all I have time to share right now!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

 

Lost my morning guard!

There is another center within 5 miles of my facility, so we share some of our lifeguards. Apparently there has been some personality clashes at the other facility, so on Sunday, one of the guards we share quit on the spot.

It's tough because she does such a great job for me and gets along with everyone. However, just because you feel wronged doesn't make it okay to lose control in a situation and/or leave in the middle of classes. I called the guard and talked to her. We even met in person and talked all about all of the problems she's been having with the staff there and how much she loves it here. It made matters worse that the Aquatics Director at the other building was out of town, so she couldn't handle this personally. I didn't want to step on her toes, or our supervisor's toes, by involving myself in matters at another facility, but I felt that mostly what this lifeguard needed was someone to listen to her. I listened and we discussed what she wanted to do, which was admit she made some mistakes and to continue working at my facility but not the other.

We then presented this to my supervisor. However, the lifeguard went into the meeting expecting my supervisor not to listen and to attack her, so the guard attacked first. It was disappointing to see someone who had valid feelings but couldn't control her behavior enough to solve a problem. In the end, we all decided her quitting was the best idea.

It's tough that a situation I had nothing to do with put me in such a bind. This lifeguard opened my building at 6:00am three days a week - including one day of my weekend - and the other facility two days a week. Now both the other Aquatics Director and I have to find an opening lifeguard for five days a week or we have to open the buildings ourselves, which would mean two twelve-hour days and a sixth day a week for me. Luckily a former guard in town for spring break wanted some hours, so we got this week covered, but I have to do some seriously advertising and begging to get these hours covered! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

 

Week One - My Journey into Recreational Sports

Hi! I'm Megan. I graduated from Michigan in April 2003 with a B.S. in Physical Education and English. During school, I worked as a team manager and for the intramural department as a supervisor and official. I planned to become a teaching until I couldn't find a teaching job. The market was terrible and there were close to 80 applicants for every job I applied. When I couldn't find a full-time, UM Kinesiology offerred me a part-time lecturer job for PE 316: Responding to Emergencies. I was also offerred a part-time position with Saline Community Education as the Youth League Coordinator.

I couldn't believe that all through college I thought I wanted to go into teaching when I'd be doing what I loved the whole time: recreational sports. When I was running the youth leagues in Saline and teacing First Aid at UM, I learned that I could promote physical activity and health in a different way. I could support local physical education plans by providing activities and programs to get people active.

I searched and searched for openings in recreation. I was willing to do facilities, intramurals, aquatics, or fitness, but every position "preferred" a masters degree, or so I was told. The field can get pretty competitive, so most universities prefer a masters degree since it shows that person's dedication to the field. However, I was also told that I could get hired without one if I got my name out there and proved myself in the field, something that is hard to do when you can't find a position.

After a year of lecturing, running leagues, working at Kidsport summer camp, and head lifeguarding at an outdoor pool, a friend in Chicago contacted me and told me he needed a roommate for the next year. I figured that if I could work part time in Ann Arbor, I could work part time in Chicago. I grew up so close to Ann Arbor that it was time for a change.

Finding part-time work proved to be difficult. It's hard to convince employers you don't know that you're a good fit for a part-time position when it's obvious you'd rather be working full-time and will probably continue to search for one. During my first year in Chicago I worked at Soldier Field in the Pro Shop, at MidTown Tennis Club as a front desk staff person, Players Sports Group as a volleyball referree, Windy City Fieldhouse as an office manager, DePaul University as a CPR and private swim instructor, and JCC Apachi Day Camp as a summer swim instructor. Most of the year I had at least 4 jobs at a time and still had trouble paying all of my bills. It was a tough year, but I met a lot of great people, some of whom proved extremely helpful.

In September of 2005, the Aquatics Director at JCC Apachi Day Camp contacted me and asked if I was looking for a full-time position. She was losing both her Assistant Aquatics Director and Fitness Coordinator at one of the JCC's in Chicago, so she went through old resumes and found mine. Both jobs looked great and paid way more than I'd been making at 4 jobs; plus they provided full benefits. Neither job paid well enough to attract masters candidates since the JCC of Chicago is a non-profit organization, so this was one of the few entry-level positions for someone exactly in my position.

I interviewed for both positions but chose the Aquatics position since it was a more comprehensive position. I would have my own staff and be completely in charge of the pool and aquatics programming at my facility. I thought this would be a great entry-level experience, and it has been.

I've been at the JCC since November of 2005, and I'm getting a great experience. My supervisor lets me have complete control of the program but she stays on top of what I'm doing and helps me whenever I need it. She knows this is a temporary entry-level position for me, and she's done an amazing job helping me learn as much as I can.

Another interesting aspect of my job is that our facility is in the middle of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. It is such a rich culture that is so different from anything I've experienced before. Sure, the University of Michigan is a diverse university and I met lots of people who were very different from myself, and they were happy to introduce me to their cultures, but I've never been completely immersed like this. Plus, many of these people are so religious that they keep sexes completely separate; they aren't even allowed to touch the other gender until they are married.

This has been a great learning experience but has also proved challenging in other ways. Some of our swim classes are CoEd but some are separate. For the boys' lessons, I'm not allowed to get in the water with the boys and have to be covered from elbows to knees. I have to find male instructors to teach the beginning levels, which is extremely hard to do, especially since lessons are only 45 minutes twice a week. It's also difficult because although I'm a certified lifeguard instructors, many of the boys in the community are so religious that they cannot have a female instructor, especially one who would see them in swim suits.

While I've been working at the JCC, I have also stayed on part time at DePaul University Campus Recreation and MidTown Tennis Club. I work at the tennis club mainly because I like the people there and I've become a big tennis fan. At DePaul, I still teach CPR, which provides me with a little extra cash but also some great contacts. My supervisor there has been amazing. She helped me get involved in NIRSA: the National Intercollegiate Recreational Sports Association. I'm going to the national conference this year, and I've also gotten involved in other goings on, such as the Nike Extramural Basketball Tournament held at DePaul this year. She has also given me great career advice and has helped me make some major decisions, like what kind of masters to pursue and where. I'm applying to graduate schools now and I'm hoping to get my masters part-time while I continue to work at the "J."

Well, that's the beginning and how I got here. Feel free to ask me any questions!

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