Recreation v. YMCA. . . Collaborative efforts result in partnerships!
The recreation and parks profession has always faced competition from the private recreation sector. One such competitor for the Burlington Recreation and Parks Department (BRPD) is the Alamance County Community YMCA (Y). Unique to Burlington is the location of these two facilities. Standing on the front steps at the Maynard Aquatic Center (MAC, formerly the Burlington Aquatic Center) the Y is visible across the landscape of City Park. Thus, the Y competes for participants with the BRPD in athletic, after school and summer day camps, as well as in aquatic programs.
Today two facilities once divided by competition have formed a partnership. Together the two directors ease the teaching duties by co-teaching lifeguard training certification classes (LGT). This opportunity to work together grew from the shared duties of the Alamance Senior Games swim event. Both directors work together to host, set-up, and preside over the swimming event. Recognizing the comfort of shared responsibilities the two decided to see if the same benefits could result by co-teaching a LGT class. Twenty-two participants registered for the co-taught class and the experience resulted in shared enthusiasm for both instructors. Small steps associated with teamwork begin to lessen the competition between the two directors. As a result, shared desires to create, operate, and maintain aquatic programs in Burlington created a partnership between a municipality and a private non-profit organization.
Four years have past since the quest to seek an ally by the MAC’s Aquatic Director began. Today two facilities are partnered by the creation of one summer league swim team (SHARKS, April 2004) and one-year round USAS swim team (YBAC, September 2005). Together the first partnership between the BRPD and the Y grew from the idea of creating a summer swim league team. In the first year 26-members registered for the team and in the summer of 2005 growth was seen as the team increased to 38.
Striving to continue the steps to accelerate aquatic programs the two directors collaborated and created the first ever city operated year-round swim team. This venture like the summer league partnership is proving to be a success. In the fourth month of operation the team has a growing roster of 48 athletes.
Setting goals circulated around teamwork and communication, has depleted the rivalry between the MAC and the Y aquatic departments. The two directors have shown that competition can lead to community success. Athletes participating on the collaborative teams receive twice the benefits compared to single maintained swim teams. For the community a barrier between two close competitors has been brought together to form outstanding aquatic opportunities.
Accessing the MAC’s closest competitor and contrasting programs has proved to provide the BRPD Aquatic Director a friend, co-worker, and ally. Together the Department exemplifies support for each other, the aquatic programs individually that each director manages, and the need of the community awareness of water safety in Burlington. The distance remains the same physically for the two facilities but the collaborative effort for the partnerships are side by side.
Mary Pollok, Aquatic Director; Burlington Recreation & Parks, Maynard Aquatic Center