The Vashon Pool: In full demand

With every transition comes bumps in the road, and the Park District’s assumption of Vashon pool management has been no exception to that rule.

While we on the staff and the volunteers on the Pool Committee focused on creating open swim, lap swim and lesson schedules that would expand swim options for the community, we missed some long-held traditional uses of the pool by private groups. Some of those private groups made their plans a year before VPD took over, so the pool closures they require fell through the scheduling cracks.

In other words, summer camps that traditionally visit Vashon and use the public pool for their special needs populations suddenly appeared to cut into all that great public pool time, and it has inconvenienced some residents who came to rely on open swim times every afternoon.

So, we apologize to those who have been inconvenienced by these closures and ask that you check the Park District Web site before making your swimming plans — the closures are all posted there at vashonparkdistrict.org. In addition, we’d like you to know a bit about the people with whom you’re sharing our pool.

The Youth New Horizons camp closed the pool for a few afternoons the week of July 12. This group is a Camp Burton-sponsored camp that has been coming to Vashon since 1979. Campers are special needs kids — disabled and developmentally disadvantaged. They need to have the pool to themselves because of their disabilities and the fact that almost every one of them brings a counselor or parent to help them swim.

Camp Parkview will be swimming in the pool the week of August 2 to 5, and it’s the adult version of Youth New Horizons. These folks include about 60 adult campers with developmental disabilities – Downs’ Syndrome, brain injuries, autism and cerebral palsy. They bring with them at least 30 volunteer staff people, all from Parkview Services out of Seattle.

Camp Goodtimes will fill the pool a few hours during the week of July 26 to 30. This camp hosts children who are currently being treated for cancer or are in remission from cancer, and their siblings. Most of the Camp Goodtimes volunteer staffers – doctors, nurses and others, are cancer survivors themselves.

Camp Burton Executive Director Kathleen Hendrickson says she is grateful to the Island community for indulging the pool interruptions this year. “Swimming is such a relief for these people. It frees them from the prison of their bodies for a little while and relieves some of the chronic pain they suffer all day.” Hendrickson also promised to work more closely with the Park District next year so as to minimize open swim time interruptions in 2011.

We appreciate the community’s understanding of our bumps along the road of our first year managing the Vashon Pool. We plan to improve every year, and we welcome your suggestions.

— Wendy Braicks is the Vashon Park

District’s executive director.

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