By ELIZABETH CARPENTER | rural Wilton
It was mid-summer, July 2022, when a few teenage girls, looking to earn a little money, applied to be lifeguards at a small pool in the Village of Wilton. They expected big things at this one diving board, just enough water to get you wet, middle of nowhere pool. Simple things, like water safety. After all, children’s lives would be at stake. It only takes a second to drown, and these young guards, between the group of them, probably knew every kid who came to the pool.
How would one of them feel if little Johnny died the silent death of drowning while one of them goofed off at their newly acquired job? Maybe something like not sitting in the lifeguard chair or looking at their phone while on a 20-minute pool-side shift could be tolerated? They did just pass a lifeguard training class that taught them how to be a first-class lifeguard, whether one was working at a fancy resort in the Dells or just a no-shade pool at the heart of the bike trail. Maybe the village board, the group of men who controlled whether they were hired or fired, would only give them a slap on the wrist if they violated the pool rules?
The long-time pool mentor, whom some might argue was the unofficial manager, seeing as how he had been a lifeguard at this humble pool for the last 20 years, was a believer in all things water safety. Nate was a water veteran, guaranteed to make your kid laugh kind of guy. He gave all the kids funny nicknames, made bad jokes, and would toss kids into the water at the end of a lesson while they screamed with delight. How fortunate this little pool was to have this Wilton local come back to the pool every year to train lifeguards, teach swim lessons, and to just make summer fun?
Everyone knew Nate, seeing as how this senior lifeguard was the one who was teaching swim lessons back when most of the new lifeguards were afraid to even get their hair wet. Now, here he was years later, to guide them, running in-services to drive home the fact that if water safety was not taken seriously and swim lessons were not kept fun, kids would stop coming in droves from the village and even surrounding communities, bypassing the big pools, with fancy slides, to learn to swim at the Wilton pool.
But wait, you say. Just a minute. Your headline is misleading. When do we get to the terror? We are halfway through this story and we haven’t heard much about it, right? Well, I don’t understand it myself, but the village board couldn’t be wrong, could they? Why, that’s why they fired Nate and some of these teen girls! They say these teenage girls were trying to run the town, placing demands at meetings. Demands like no distractions while lifeguarding, always having two guards in the pool building in case of emergencies, and not feeling intimidated by the board. Just following basic safety rules while working and getting more than a slap on the wrist when the rules are broken.
Demands like keeping Nate on as their mentor, encouraging him to guide them and let them know when they could be doing better. That was enough to terrorize the board so much that they decided shutting down the pool was the right answer.
What do you think? Why don’t you take a minute to call the village office and the board members to let them know how you feel about the pool being shut down when they had competent employees more than willing to work and help make summer a fun and safe place? Let your voice be heard and do your research before the next election.