I have managed to combine three photo challenges into this one photograph.
Summer in July finds children counting the minutes until their neighborhood public swimming pool opens for the day. Although I no longer oversee the daily operations of these pools, I do appreciate the lengths leisure professionals must go to to ensure clean, safe pools with well-trained lifeguards.
All that training and preparation for the opening of the pools makes no difference to a child.
While the U.S. celebrates Memorial Day this weekend (holiday observed Monday), my co-host Aixa at Mucho Spanish chose the theme “aroma” for the Sunday Stills photo challenge.
Memorial Day weekend is the traditional “unofficial” kick-off to the summer season here in the Northern Hemisphere. I, myself, am at the Sacramento Delta for a long weekend as this publishes. Part of the tradition includes backyard BBQ filling the air with mouthwatering aromas of chicken, salmon, tri-tip (my hubby’s specialty) and other grilled treats!
The above image shows an array of canapes perfect to whet your appetite!
Deepest gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.
Last week as I rode my bike around the neighborhood, I noticed many folks preparing their RVs for a long weekend excursion.
Here in Northern California we are within two hours of either the Sierra Nevadas (Lake Tahoe, Gold Country, and Yosemite just 4 hours south east) and the San Francisco Bay area and the ocean. In between are countless campgrounds, lakes, rivers and other wonderful leisure places.
Each with their own, distinct aromas.
In one of the classes I teach, we study a concept called “smellscape,” sort of an exploration of the senses. Students are asked to think about their favorite leisure places and identify the scents, smells, odors and aromas associated with them.
For me, my favorite scent is the blast of pine that fills the cool mountain air as you enter the forest. As kids on our long drive into Yosemite from the Mohave Desert along the Eastern Sierra Nevada, we rolled down the car windows and drank in the scent, as soon as we reached 7000 feet elevation and saw the trees.
Similarly, there is such a distinctive smell associated with the ocean as soon as you pull into the parking lot at the southern California beaches.
The salt air, sun-warmed asphalt and sidewalks, BBQs, sand and ocean air create a cacophony of smells that announces “you are now at the beach.”
So, take a moment, close your eyes and think of scents that bring you joy and remind you of your favorite leisure activities.
What are your favorite aromas? Please share photos that represent them!
Being that this post publishes during Memorial Day Weekend, I am compelled to share one more Water Safety post. 20+ years working in the public swimming pool and aquatics industry will do that to a person!
This theme is right up this blog’s alley…that’s right, when you’re the host of a photo challenge, you get to pick them! I know you will love it though, since recreation and leisure are essential in our lives.
I bet you find yourself participating in something recreational or leisurely every day. Why not share what you do for recreation for the Sunday Stills photo challenge?
In the above photo, I watched as these two fishermen enjoyed their experience on Hilo Bay juxta-positioned against the backdrop of the apartments. It was a Friday, a school holiday, and these fishermen shared the beach with several young surfers.
And I’ll bet you didn’t know that today is also “National Take Your Parents to the Playground Day.” Playgrounds appear in parks and in swimming pools.
I would be remiss (as a former aquatics director) if I didn’t include my annual plug for May is National Water Safety Month.
For more information on keeping yourself and your family safe in and around the water, visit these links:
What is lurking just below the surface of the water?
Why, a gigantic whale shark, of course. Would you like to play Peek -a-boo with the largest animal on planet Earth?
C’mon, there’s nothing to it! Almost two years ago, I had the opportunity to swim with whale sharks on our vacation in Mexico in the Bay of La Paz. You can read more about my experience in What Swimming with Whale Sharks Taught Me.
As you can see by the photo below in my peek-a-boo with the whale shark, my presence didn’t even phase him. When I saw it, though, and knowing ahead of time what I would see, I still screamed into my snorkel because I didn’t think they would swim so close to the surface.
Not convinced, huh? Maybe a smaller critter?
How about a game of peek-a-boo with nesting, feeding swallows? I must have taken 100 shots with my camera and barely got images that were not blurry.
A swallow impatiently peeks from her nest waiting for her mate to bring some goodies. She appears not to be too disturbed by my presence.
If you are not able to contort your body under a bridge and wait for photo ops (because the swallows flit and dive crazily if disturbed), perhaps taking a quick peek at a hummingbird as it feeds is more your style. You’ve got to look fast, though, a few peeks is all you might get!
I suppose all creatures play peek-a-boo regardless of their size!
These photos help illustrate the theme PEEK for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. Come take a peek at what other photographers shared this week.
One of my favorite fashion bloggers featured me and my water-sports’ lifestyle on her blog this week. If you haven’t met Jodie at Jodie’s Touch of Style yet, please stop by and read her blog.
Jodie tells readers “You may not love the idea of putting on a bathing suit or being seen in one, but I do think we need to practice more body love instead of being so critical of ourselves. None of us are perfect, and it’d be too boring even if we were!! So let’s embrace our wonderful bodies as is!!
Even if you don’t go to the beach or pool regularly, I do think it’s nice to have at least one good fitting bathing suit in your wardrobe, for those just in case moments.”
You know me, I practically live in outdoor clothing. On Summer weekends while at the delta (our windsurf camp), you can catch me wearing something water-related. I think it is possible to be a little fashionable while enjoying the water.
Summer activities are often outside at the pool or beach. We are looking at beach style for women over 50 for a variety of activities.
What’s cool about Jodie’s blog is she shows fashion for women of different ages, 50s, 60s and 70s. Always appropriate and stylish!
If you have known me very long, you might remember that I was the Aquatics Director for a parks and rec in my former day job. I lived and breathed water safety and still staunchly promote the benefits of being safe in and around the water.
Although people play in the water with the best intentions, doing so without a life-jacket is a recipe for Danger!.
This past week, I heard the tragic news of a 14-year old boy, who, while playing on the rocks in a shallow area of the American River near Folsom Lake, was swept away by the deceptively cold water and swift current and drowned. His body was found two days later.
Sadly, this will not be the only drowning incident that makes the news.
The temperature in Sacramento this week reached the mid-90s, hot for this time of year, but not unheard of. The largest snow pack ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada mountains will melt quickly into the lakes, rivers and streams within days. The rivers can be treacherous this time of year.
People believe they are good swimmers. I hold that belief about myself. But when the water is COLD and tons of debris like entire trees with branches and roots still intact, floating just below the river’s surface snag onto a person’s body, it WILL take someone under and never let go.
This is the danger of spring snow-melt. As temps heat up in the Northern Hemisphere, no matter where you live, please respect the water and put on a life-jacket.
I practice what I preach in my water sports stand-up paddling and windsurfing. Here are my lifelines when I am out in the water.
Last year I posted several articles about water safety. For more information on proper life-jackets, also called PFDs or personal flotation devices, please refer to Is a Life Jacket in Your Beach Bag?
The above featured image shows Type 2 life-jackets hanging free for use on a large sign. These signs with life-jackets are available in several spots along the Sacramento and American Rivers.
News media oftentimes shows clips of people swimming in the rivers just yards away from where the free life-jackets are hanging. Sad.
This week’s photo challenge saw me coming…for May is National Water Safety Month!
This is the third and final part of my series for May is National Water Safety Month.
Memorial Day Weekend in the United States heralds in the summer season. This three-day holiday weekend kicks off warm temperatures, family outings, BBQs, and of course, swimming and water recreation.
Memorial Day Weekend also brings an increased risk of child drownings, reports this article.
Pool, lake, and beach parties are favorite ways to celebrate, but parents must remember to stay alert and vigilant while children are in and around water.
For children between the ages of one and four, drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States (just behind auto accidents). Even when not fatal, water-related accidents cause significant, life-changing injuries from the lack of oxygen to the brain, including permanent brain injury and loss of basic functioning.
There are thousands of tragic stories about children, teens and adults drowning in swimming pools, rivers, lakes and oceans.
Fortunately, most of these can be prevented by being aware of these four drowning prevention tips.
A is for Adult Supervision. Simply put–Parents, WATCH YOUR CHILDREN! Do not assume someone else is going to watch your child at a backyard birthday pool party, or that the lifeguard will see your child in distress in a crowded swimming pool or beach front. It is simply YOUR job to watch your child.
B is for Barriers. Backyard swimming pools without proper fencing can be a potential death trap for young children. Installation and proper use of barriers or “layers of protection” is crucial. Check your county’s ordinances for proper fence height and rules about self-latching gates. It only takes one moment for your child to slip away and head for the water.
C is for Classes. Children and adults should learn to be comfortable in and around the water. Never consider children “drown-proof” or “water-safe” despite age, swimming skills, previous lessons or experience. Adults should take classes in CPR and first aid. Enroll children into swimming lessons. Non-swimming adults and teens should take swim classes, too.
In the featured image, the sheer joy of children taking their swim lesson is priceless! For children to be that excited about swimming while learning to be safe in the water should be encouraged and rewarded.
D is for Devices. In your backyard pool, keep rescue devices handy. Wear a life jacket (PFD or personal flotation device) in open water. In late May and early summer, water temperatures in lakes and rivers can be deceptively cold despite the warm sun. Rivers and lakes this time of year can be filled with swiftly moving debris which can trap unsuspecting swimmers and drag them under the water.
Additionally, there may be state laws and local ordinances requiring the wearing of PFDs. Children and adults should wear life jackets in open water and while on a boat.
The NRPA (National Recreation and Park Association) recognizes that May is National Water Safety Month and offers these water safety tips.
Are there ordinances or laws about public water safety where you live? Has your community ever experienced a tragic drowning?
Please be safe as the summer swimming season begins.
The above photo was included in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Jubilant.
What inspires you? What gets your blood pumping? Is it great food, good company or a task well-done? If you are a photographer or writer, amateur or pro, what is your muse for a beautiful photo or an insightful blog post or story?
The Weekly Photo Challenge asks us this question.
If you follow my blog, you know that wind and water are my twin muses. As an avid board sport enthusiast, wind and water attract me like a moth to flame, or a duck to water (wink). I also can’t get enough of pine covered mountains.
There is nothing like the inspiration of leisure to be the muse for many people. I hope you enjoy this collection of some of my favorite leisure spaces.
Windsurfers at Sherman Island, Sacramento delta
Kids enjoying water sports at the Aquatic Center
Unicorn Peak stands watch over the meadows
No wind? No problem. Get out your SUP and enjoy!
We love water, but we need to be safe.
Sun sets on stand-up paddlers on the delta
Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River runs near the campground (Yosemite National Park)
New sailors try their hand at windsurfing and sailing at Sac State Aquatic Center
Summer is here and this is the time for families to register their children for swimming lessons. After 20+ years spent as an aquatics director and swim lesson instructor-trainer, let me share some ideas and tips to assist you with this important learning activity.
Regardless of your child’s swimming ability, you can play a critical role in guiding, caring for, supervising, motivating, and working with your child during the experience of participating in swim lessons.
Most communities have public or private swimming pools with a variety of aquatics programs for all ages (even adults!). Here are some things to consider when choosing the swimming facility:
Is the pool is indoors or outdoors? Dress appropriately and wear sunscreen.
Is the pool heated? Cool water is still OK to swim in.
What is time of day the lessons are offered? Usually classes are offered in the mornings or evenings.
Does the facility offer group and private lessons? Children really learn better when placed in a group situation. However, if your child has special needs, most swim programs offer private or specialized lessons tailored to the child’s needs.
It is very important to carefully review the swim lesson program offered by your leisure provider. Prepare your child for this experience by first visiting the swimming pool where the classes are held.
Tips on Placing Your Child in the Right Lesson
Many swimming programs are seasonal, meaning that lessons may only be offered in the summer months.
If your child has taken lessons before, you may want to repeat the last level that was completed the summer before as a review.
Most children remain in the same level for two or more sessions.
It is easier to move a child up a level than to move them down.
The pool staff may make the final decision in placement of your child into the most appropriate class level based on the child’s skill.
Do not over-schedule your child. One lesson per day is enough.
Once your child starts the swim lesson session, here are some suggestions to help you provide the best experience for your child.
Be on time and attend every lesson.
Follow the pool rules and encourage safety around any body of water.
During the lesson, sit in the parent viewing area so as not to distract your child.
Dress your child in a swim suit. Swim goggles and rashguard may be worn. Bring a towel.
Leave questions for the instructor for after the lesson or ask the facility director.
Have patience and give positive praise.
Provide encouragement and opportunities to practice new skills during recreational swim.
Above all, just have fun and let your child soak up the experience in this fun learning environment. Swimming is a life-long leisure activity with endless benefits.
As the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday approaches, I want to discuss the subject of leisure as it relates to race. I spent many years as the aquatics director for a large urban recreation department recruiting lifeguards from varied ethnic backgrounds. The lack of African-American lifeguards serves as a negative role-model for black youth.
The space for leisure has long been an important aspect of the leisure experience. One author discussed the example of the beach and its surfing subculture as a leisure space of pleasure, control and resistance for men, but mostly excluded women.
I see some similarities in the world of aquatics related to racial discrimination and leisure spaces.
Jim Crow laws in the post-slavery South institutionalized racial separation of leisure spaces. Whites had better parks and swimming pools available, leaving Blacks with inferior facilities, if any. Even in the 21st century, the “colored only” signs may be gone, but racialized spatial relations continue to exist. Generations later, African-American families have few traditions related to swimming pools.
Take a closer look at the “country club” sports like tennis, golf and swimming. I challenge you to actively count how many African-Americans are well known in these sports besides Tiger Woods and Venus & Serena Williams.
The hegemony of institutionalized racism of leisure spaces has possibly left generations of African-Americans without an innate ability to develop values for parks and recreation and, in particular, an affinity for swimming in public pools. S.F. Phillip (2000) in his article, Race and the Pursuit of Happiness, from the Journal of Leisure Research, gave several examples, two of which described how very few African-Americans visit national parks, and conversely, how few Caucasians play basketball in the inner city. He asked if leisure spaces function as societal mechanisms to limit racial contact.
In the modern world, how has institutionalized racism affected the African-American mother who is afraid of water and is unable to teach or articulate the values of water safety to her children?
American swimmer Cullen Jones is trying to change these values. At the 2012 Olympic Games, Jones was the first African-American to win an individual gold medal in swimming. He went on to win another gold and two silver medals. As a young child, he was the victim of a near drowning in a public water park and his grandmother promptly put him into swim lessons.
According to Black Enterprise.com, Jones said, “Thanks to the hard work and research of the University of Memphis and the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash initiative, we now know that there are 3 major reasons why African Americans don’t swim. The #1 reason is fear, which trumps all other factors; then parental backing and physical appearance.”
Another article stated, “there is no question that not knowing how to swim contributes to the deaths of minority children who drown in pools and in natural bodies of water such as lakes, streams or the ocean. The focus is on minority children because the data show they are most at risk for drowning. It’s a cultural issue, because many of the African-American and Hispanic children have parents and grandparents who never learned to swim.”
In my own professional experience, I have seen how few African-Americans pursue jobs as lifeguards, let alone participate in competitive swimming. Out of 300,000 people who visit the swimming pools annually, roughly 25% of visitors are African-American. One year, out of 140 lifeguard staff, only 13 were classified as Latino, Asian or Black. In the 14 years while I was the director, I was only able to hire four, qualified African-American Pool Managers.
Cullen Jones’ Make a Splash Initiative provides important leisure education and swim lessons to families from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The safety commission is working with the YMCA, the American Red Cross, public schools and other community organizations to boost access to free swimming lessons.
What else can families do? Citizens in many local park districts are voting to tax themselves to provide more funds for public safety and general funded recreation programs, including aquatics. Sign your children up for swim lessons, swim team programs and junior lifeguard programs. Encourage your teens to become lifeguards for a worthwhile and decent-paying summer job.
With access to free and low-cost swimming programs, children from all ethnic backgrounds can learn to swim and eventually become lifeguards. Perhaps they can be the new role models to other children who attend swimming pools.