PORTLAND, Ore. — After a year of limited activities because of the pandemic, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is making plans for the summer.
It’s planning to restart day camps as well as a variety of other lunch, art and fitness programming. Part of the plan is to also to reopen pools.
“We’re excited, more than ever, to come back and be in the pool, be a stronger team and see everybody, safely,” said Madeleine Hanlon-Austin, recreation coordinator for PP&R.
In their role as recreation coordinator, Hanlon-Austin helps train lifeguards and swim instructors, and they’ve spent most of their life involved with PP&R.
“I started out as a little tot with my parents in the pool, at Grant Pool,” Hanlon-Austin said.
As they got older, they joined a swim league, then became a lifeguard and swim instructor at 15 years old. Now at 29 years old, Hanlon-Austin has a full-time career doing what they love.
During the pandemic, Hanlon-Austin has had to switch gears. They were reassigned to helping with other programs while pools were shut down. The whole time, they've missed the water and can’t wait to spread the joy of swimming again.
“What [the pandemic] has done for me is it has brought me back to center, to remind me of all the things that I love about parks and get me really frickin’ stoked to get back into the water,” said Hanlon-Austin excitedly.
Meantime, parents hearing about the summer plans are excited too.
“I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled that they’re bringing things back and having programming again,” said Abby Nilsen-Kirby, a Portland mom to three kids. She said after distance learning for the entire year, summer activities will be good for her children.
“Just getting them outside and active and around people again, that’ll be so beneficial for their well-being [and] for my well-being as a parent,” laughed Nilsen-Kirby.
She said it’d be an opportunity to let kids be kids again.
PP&R's community centers and pools are currently closed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. However, because the community invested in the 2020 Parks Levy, PP&R is now preparing to recruit, hire, and train exercise instructors, camp counselors, lifeguards, and many other valuable staff members to restore important services to the community, beginning this summer with outdoor, COVID responsive programming.
Click here for the summer programming that PP&R expects to offer.
After summer 2021, when public health guidance allows, PP&R will be excited to fully reopen community centers and pools to the public.
Ross said PP&R is looking to hire youth 14 and older who are service-minded, community-focused and energetic to fill a variety of open summer jobs.
Hanlon-Austin said for those interested in becoming a lifeguard, applicants need to be at least 16 years old.
In a flyer from the city, safety precautions for employees are outlined. They include things like mask wearing, staying six feet away from coworkers or community members and daily sign-in sheets for the purpose of contact tracing.
While there’s much excitement and planning going into summer programming, if public health guidance changes, PP&R may also change its plans.
When asked about how they feel about working for PP&R, Hanlon-Austin said they were grateful for the opportunity and loved their job.
For people who are interested, two virtual career fairs are planned. One is set for next Tuesday, April 6 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Another one is scheduled for the same time on April 21.
Parents who are interested in the summer programs planned to be offered can visit the PP&R website.