Pool season is about to start, but staffing issues have been making it tough to fill lifeguard positions with at least one local pool announcing it won't be able to open until June.
Pools in Woodstock, Edinburg and Strasburg are scheduled to open as usual with a full staff this month, but pools in Mount Jackson, New Market and Front Royal still need several more lifeguards to ensure adequate coverage this summer. On Monday, staff with the Claude A Stokes Jr. Community Swimming Pool in Front Royal announced that the pool will not open as scheduled on Memorial Day weekend but instead will open June 6 because of a lack of staff.
Other pools have had more luck in hiring lifeguards.
“We have a plan to open,” said Mount Jackson Town Clerk Debbie Allen on Thursday. “I think we currently have six guards right now."
However, the staff could use up to four more guards, she added.
For now, they’re good to open today and get through Memorial Day weekend, Allen said.
The hope is to be open daily through the summer, she said, but “it changes every day.”
New Market, which plans to open its pool on May 28, needs five or more lifeguards to join their staff, said Donna Lohr, administrative assistant for the town.
The pool is scheduled to be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, she said, but other services might not be available this summer without more staffing.
“Currently we’re not able to do pool parties in the evenings,” Lohr said.
This experience isn’t new, said Dee Prunka, the town’s office assistant.
“Last year we ran into this issue as well, but we were able to open on time [last year] just by the skin of our teeth,” she said. “I’m not sure if kids are not wanting to do it or if they can’t afford the certification.”
Lifeguard certification through the American Red Cross can cost up to $300, said Strasburg’s Director of Strategic Initiatives Olivia Hilton.
Mount Jackson works with a lifeguard instructor who charges $250 for certification and $175 to recertify lifeguards every two years, Allen said.
But that can be a steep price for seasonal staff, who might have to work a week or longer before they even break even on the cost of their certification.
To incentivize new staff members and help offset the cost of lifeguard certification, Mount Jackson and New Market are offering sign-on bonuses of $250 and $300 respectively.
New Market splits the bonus money between employees’ first two paychecks, Lohr said.
Front Royal’s Claude A Stokes Community Swimming Pool also offers to reimburse lifeguards for their certification fees, said Warren County Parks & Recreation Director Dan Lenz or to find other solutions for workers who can’t pay the initial cost.
Other seasonal jobs around the department haven’t been nearly as hard to fill as lifeguarding staff, he said, admitting on Friday that the pool still needs anywhere from five to 10 additional guards if they’re going to have a full staff this season.
In addition to the up-front financial cost, there’s a time cost. Red Cross certification classes require several hours of training plus a passing grade in CPR and first aid skills and proof of requisite swimming ability.
To offset the challenges of finding enough lifeguards, Strasburg has switched things up this year, hiring on all staff under the same job title, Hilton said.
Whether positioned as a lifeguard or at the concessions stand, employees will all be trained in CPR and first aid and get a town rate of $100 for certification with Park and Pool Manager Danni Leigh.
Hilton hopes that the changes will not only encourage enough staff to stay through the summer but also keep employees into the fall after college-age staff return to school in August. This could also help cover concessions for recreational sports like soccer and move people into other town positions like horticulture, she said.
The effort is helping the town recruit more than the typical high school and college students, Hilton said, including other young adults and stay-at-home parents.
“We’re really excited to see how it plays out this year,” she said. “We’re feeling pretty positive.”
Prices and hours
Strasburg Town Pool, 295 Park Road, will open May 27 following an evening pool party hosted by the Kiwanis Club from 6 to 8 p.m. the previous night.
Regular hours will be from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Labor Day weekend.
Free senior swim is from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday to Friday, and swim lessons will be from 10 to 11 a.m. in June and July.
Admission is $2 for children ages 3 to 5, $3 for seniors and $4 for adults. Children 2 and younger get in free with a paying adult. Punch passes give 10 days of admission with a free 11th day and cost $20 for preschoolers, $30 for students and seniors, $40 for adults and $175 for a five-person season pass.
Pool parties can be scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday for $150. Swim teams will also be scheduled for events in the evenings.
Register at the Strasburg Town Office, 174 E. King St., Strasburg. For more information, call 540-465-8130.
Woodstock Pool, at 540 Park Ave., will open on May 28 and close for the season after Labor Day.
Hours will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. On Labor Day, they will close at 6 p.m.
Rates are $3 for children 5 and younger, $4 for children 6-18 and $5 for adults 19 and older.
Season passes are priced for in-town versus out-of-town residents:
• $35 for in-town patrons 5 and younger or $50 for out-of-town
• $50 for in-town patrons 6 to 18 or $65 for out-of-town
• $65 for in-town adults or $80 for out-of-town
Family passes for five members (two adults and three kids) are $150 for in-town and $165 for out-of-town, with $25 for each additional family member.
Signup for swim lessons has started.
For more information, call 540-459-3121.
Edinburg Pool, at 100 Park Road, opens May 28. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday. The season continues through Labor Day.
Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for children 5 to 17, and $1 for children 4 and younger. Season passes are $125 for in-town families and $140 for out-of-town families, $70 for an in-town individual and $80 for an out-of-town individual.
Pool parties may be scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday for $115. For more information or to schedule a party, call the town office at 540-984-8521.
Mount Jackson Town Swimming Pool, at 326 Wunder St., will be open at 1 p.m. Tuesday and be open daily through Labor Day.
Pool passes are $4 for patrons 12 and older, $2 for ages 5 to 11 and free for children 4 and younger. The pool will not be offering swim lessons.
Call the pool at 540-477-2670 for more information, or visit the town website at mountjackson.com/life-in-mount-jackson.
New Market Community Pool, at 9656 Cadet Road, will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily starting May 28. Starting Aug. 13, the pool will be open weekends only for the rest of the season.
Daily rates are $4 for adults, $3 for ages 6-11 and free for ages 5 and younger with a paying adult. Season passes are $60 for adults and $50 for ages 6-11.
Swim lessons will not be given through the pool but may be available through the town’s swim team.
For more information, call the town at 540-740-3432, or visit newmarketvirginia.com/residents/parks-and-rec/new-market-community-pool.
In Warren County, the Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool at 1000 Stadium Drive, Front Royal will open May 28, and tentative hours are noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Monday, pending available staff.
The season officially starts June 6, with operating hours from noon to 5:30 Monday-Friday and noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through Aug. 14 and then weekend hours through Sept. 5 once the new academic year starts.
Fees are $3.50 for ages 3-5, $5 for ages 6-15 and seniors 55 and older or military with an active or inactive ID, $6 for ages 15-54 and free to patrons 2 and younger.
A family of four can pay $18 for the day. Lap swim is $3. Pre-approved groups can get a 20% discount.
Seasonal passes are $115 for ages 6-15, $130 for ages 16-54, $100 for ages 55 and older or military with an ID, $210 for a family of one adult and one child, or $315 for a family of two adults and two children with an add on of $75 per additional family member.
A lap swim season pass covers 20 admissions for $40. Lap swim will be from 7 to 9 a.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday from June 6 to Aug. 11, pending available staff.
For more information, call 540-635-9433.
In Frederick County, Clearbrook Park Pool at 3300 Martinsburg Pike, Clear Brook, and Sherando Pool at 201 Splash Ave., Stephens City, will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Memorial Day weekend and the following weekend. Daily swim times will run from June 11 to Aug. 12, after which they’ll be open only on weekends because of the start of the new academic year.
Admission fees are free for children 2 and younger and $5 for everyone else. Swim lessons are available. Lap swim is by reservation only.
Pool rentals are available from 7 to 9 p.m. or 7 to 11 p.m. Friday to Sunday and must be made at least a week in advance and paid in full at the time of the reservation. The two-hour rate is $225 for county residents and $280 for non-county residents. The four-hour rate is $440 for residents and $550 for non-residents.
For more information, call 540-665-5600 or visit fcva.us/departments/parks-recreation/pools-swim-lessons.
The swimming pool in Chet Hobert Park will be Saturday through Monday and the following two weekends with open swim from noon to 6 p.m.
Open swim will be from 3 to 6 p.m. from June 13 to 16. Then the pool will be open daily from noon to 6 p.m. through Aug. 21 and reopen for Aug. 27 and 28 and Sept. 3 to 5.
Family swim is from 7 to 9 p.m.
Rates are based on resident status. In-county rates are $4.50 for ages 16-54, $3.50 for ages 6-15 and $3 for ages 3-5 or 55 and older.
Out-of-county rates are $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for ages 6-15 or $4 for ages 3-5 or 55 and older.
Children 2 and younger get in free with a paying adult. Pool guests get a dicount if they show proof of county residency. Discount passes for 20 admissions are also available for ranging from $50 to $80 for in-county residents or $70 to $100 for out-of-county residents.
Swim lessons are available this summer, and the pool is available for rental from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday to Sunday for $250. Call the pool at 540-955-5158 or the recreation center at 540-955-5140 or visit https://tinyurl.com/n6rsd6uj.
The Jim Barnett Park Outdoor Pool will be open Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend.
• Weekdays: 4 to 6:30 p.m., May 31 to June 10 and from Aug. 8 to Sept. 2
• Weekends: noon to 6:30 p.m., Saturday through June 12 and from Aug. 13 to Sept. 3.
• Weekdays: 1 to 6:30 p.m., June 13 to Aug. 5
• Weekends: noon to 6:30 p.m., June 25 to Aug. 7
• Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day: General swim will be from noon to 6:30 p.m.
• July 3: General swim will be from noon to 8:30 p.m. followed by fireworks.
The pool will be closed for general swim June 17-19 for the Long Course Meet.
Daily fees are $5 for adults; $15 for families; $3 for youth, seniors, college students and military and free for ages 2 and younger. The last hour fee is $1.
Lap swim is also available seven days a week, and the department offers classes and senior therapy swim and an indoor pool. For times and other info, call 540-662-4946 or visit https://tinyurl.com/yttvjsbp.