I loved pool parties as a kid, as a middle-schooler, as a high-schooler, in college, and even now. Its two great things, a pool and a party. What's not to love? The preparations! Whether it is a birthday party, end of school party, or 4th of July, a pool party means preparing accordingly. If you have a pool, you automatically assume the risks included and do not want to be known as the person who ruined summer. How do you plan, prepare and execute such a daunting task? Keep reading.
Spreadsheets, pen and paper, organization apps, or whichever you choose, this first thing will dictate how everything else goes (No pressure, right?). For starters, make your own rules. It is your pool, but it is also your responsibility to provide a safe aquatic environment for your hosts. Know the attending amount and make sure your pool will not be at max capacity. Designate volunteers to supervise the pool for short spans of time as this will keep one or two adults heavily focused on the water instead of lots of parents casually looking at the water. Plan for parking and encourage carpooling if possible to reduce congestion or a possible visit from the Fire Marshall. Lastly plan for house traffic. Let people know early on where certain places, such as the restroom, are and do not be afraid to set limitations on wet guests. If you plan ahead, you will see how well your party goes regardless of small hiccups that occur.
This is drastically important to make sure things flow smoothly. If it is a school function, email the teacher or principal your list of rules, where to park, and anything else you want to communicate to them. Have a few people volunteer to email, call or reach out to parents. As the host, you cannot be everywhere at once. Have a few people to be your voice when you are multitasking.
Those that have been hosting pool parties for years have seen it all and are usually the best people to ask on preparation. Things like cutting the grass the day before or the day of the pool party. Sure it might make your lawn look nice, but you are guaranteed to get lots of grass in your pool. Not only is this unsightly, it can clog your drains in high volume. A very important area that requires a lot of preparation is the quality of your water. Test the water everyday, at least three days before, to ensure your water is safe. If you know the number of people attending, see your pool treatment guide to know the right ratio of chlorine or other sanitation to add. Chlorine breaks down with high heat and needs to be increased with lots of people. That many people and low chlorine can turn your swimming pool into a cesspool very quick. A few other things I recommend you have handy are a first aid kit, a flotation/rescue device, and a breathing barrier. I highly recommend that if you own a pool, please become CPR and first aid certified. These classes are not expensive, they are good skills to have, and they can reduce further risks in the event of a situation.
Create or borrow rules from your local pool that are applicable to what you have. Things like no running or diving are universal swimming rules, but it can have modifications. Do not run on the deck because you will slip and fall on a hard surface does not apply if you just have grass in your backyard. No diving is confusing to a child if you have a diving board. But if your rule is, no diving in the shallow, it can be more understandable for smaller children. I also recommend that if you have a pool with a deep end, offer swim tests before everyone begins. If the child can make it across the pool with no sign of struggle, they are granted access to the deep. What’s a great way to keep track of who is alright to swim in the deep? Wristbands. Ink may come off, people will forget who passed, but those neon colored wristbands make it easier to keep track of who is allowed in the deep. Find rules that work with what facility you have, make a list of them, and if you are a regular pool party host, have them printed on a sign close to the water for a more professional look! You might email the parents ahead of time, or be prepared to explain the rules to a group of overly excited kids (I have only seen a few people do this successfully). Having a list of rules helps not only you, but other parents know what to enforce. This adds great consistency to the rules and avoids any miscommunication about what is or is not allowed.
Don’t do it alone
You are the host, you are providing the pool, the shelter and entertainment for the party. You cannot do this alone. As I said earlier, designate a few adults to work on 5 to 10 minute shifts of supervision. If you have one or two adults watching intently over the water, you are more likely to be able to catch the issue before it becomes a much bigger situation. A few minutes at a time prevents fatigue, it allows for less distractions, and it keeps people more alert. Designate someone to help with parking. NEVER turn away self appointed volunteer. If someone asks how they can help, that's on them! Check your list and put them to work.
Give people a reason to love pool parties. If you plan accordingly, put safety first, communicate well, establish the rules and keep up your facility up, you might just become the host with the most!