I love everything about November! The weather is cooler, the trees change colors, and there is time to relax with loved ones and enjoy the Thanksgiving feast! Between family gatherings and pie baking, I’ve developed a ritual of spending a few moments reflecting on the reason for the season and what I’m grateful for personally and professionally. During my time as an aquatics operator, I did not excel at this. The days were long and busy. While I was incredibly thankful for each team member’s part in helping us safely operate multiple aquatic centers, I was not always great at remembering to say “thank you.” Until one year, I had someone who went out of their way to thank me for helping them with a project. While I was happy to support this individual, the unexpected acknowledgment made me feel seen, appreciated, and even more willing to help in the future. I soon realized that I also had a massive support group that was essential to my operations, and they deserved to feel the same way. We can't wait to dive in and explore Team Thank You's for each area of Aquatic Operations.

This Thanksgiving season, I encourage you to take a moment and look at those around you with a lens of gratitude. Then, find a way to make it known how grateful you are.


If you are like me, it can be hard to remember everyone who lent you a helping hand over the last year, so here are a few ideas to get you started.

Team Member Thank You's

This one might be obvious, but to put it plainly and simply, you cannot do what you do without your team. Without lifeguards to guard your pools, swim instructors to teach your lessons, and all the positions in between, your facility and programs are not operational. In a world where employees can choose where they work, they have chosen to spend their time working for you. Take a moment to thank them for their hard work and dedication to your organization.

Ways you can thank your team:

  • If you operate seasonal pools, send your team members a “Thank You” card in the mail. Jump onto Canva, design a personalized card, and then send it to your team members. This is also a great opportunity to remind them when applications will open for the next season.
  • Create a “Team Member Appreciation Week.” Place a variety of snacks in the break room or stock the staff fridge for your team to enjoy while on break.
  • Give your team extra breaks! Spend a day rotating lifeguards off stand so they can enjoy any extra 20-minute break. Sub for a swim lesson or manage the admissions area for a few minutes so your team can enjoy an extended break time.

Card with Team kuddos

I.T. Team Thank You's

Registration software, POS systems, advertising screens, phones, and computers are all elements we rely on daily to operate effectively. We often expect these systems to function without considering the work done to keep these items running. If you’ve ever had your POS system crash during the opening of your waterpark or have had your registration software stop working on the first day of swim lesson registration, then you know how integral these components are to your operations. Much like aquatics operators, your I.T. Team receives emergency, after-hours calls when something malfunctions. Don’t forget to thank them for keeping you up and running!

Ways you can thank your I.T. Team:

·         Bring the I.T. office a treat, such as a box of fresh donuts or cupcakes.

·         Write personalized thank you notes to members of the team who helped you troubleshoot problems.

Box of colorful donuts

Human Resource (H.R.) Team Thank You's

We’ve already made it clear you can’t do what you do without your team members. However, your team members don’t work unless H.R. processes them and deems them eligible! Especially for operators with seasonal facilities, H.R. teams (who already have a full workload) must process a large influx of applications quickly (because, let’s be honest, most of your applications come in at the last possible minute). Your H.R. team also supports your payroll needs and provides guidance during workplace issues. H.R. is putting in the hours, too!

Ways you can thank your Human Resource Team:  

·         Search Pinterest or Google for easy thank-you gifts! One idea might be purchasing a little hand lotion and attaching a personalized thank you note.

·         Drop off treats from a nearby bakery.

·         Drop off little bouquets of flowers for them to enjoy in their break room or on their desk.

Vase of pink flowersFront Desk/Admin. Team Thank You's

These superstars field all those customer service questions and complaints and then also handle swim lessons, pavilion, and private rental reservations. These team members are on the front lines and are usually the first line of fire when a guest is unhappy. They deserve all the thanks!

Ways you can thank your Front Desk/Admin. Team: 

·         Buy pizza for the next staff meeting!

·         Drop off a snack basket for the front desk staff during breaks! Don’t be afraid to add items like packs of gum, chapstick, or nice pens.

·         Buy a round of Sonic or Starbucks drinks for your admin team! They need caffeine, too!

Basket of SnacksMaintenance Team Thank You's

Your maintenance team is essential to your facility’s safety and risk management. The hours are long, and callouts are frequent. When your pools are not in tip-top shape, your swim lessons don’t run, your special event gets canceled, guests are unhappy, and revenue is dramatically affected. Be sure to thank them BIG this season!

Ways you can thank your Maintenance Team: 

·         The Maintenance Team might be YOU! If that’s the case, give yourself a pay on the back, take yourself out to lunch, or buy yourself that coffee!

·         Take your team out to lunch!

·         Offer to help them with a project at your facility! Maybe it’s painting handrails or stacking furniture post-season. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and lend a helping hand.

·         Schedule a happy hour!

·         Purchase a subscription to HydroApps to help your team save time, money, and sanity in the upcoming busy season. Visit HydroApps.com to learn more and schedule a demo!

Pizza and hands reaching for it

Other People You Might Consider Thanking:

·         School guidance counselors that helped you enter schools to recruit staff. Facetime with students is essential to recruiting the necessary number of staff to operate your facilities. Nurturing the relationships that help you achieve your recruitment goals is important.

·         Did someone let you use their pool space for training? Send them treats to share with their staff or a sincere email note thanking them for giving you valuable pool time.

·         Your Marketing Team! If you have a marketing team that helps you promote events/programs, updates your website, takes care of your social media, etc. Be sure to thank them! Developing and managing content takes a great deal of time.

When all else fails, just say, “Thank you!”

Your time and budget might not allow you to execute all your “thank you” gift ideas, but please remember, it’s the thought that counts. Acknowledgment of an individual’s hard work is often all they want. We can all find time to send a heartfelt email or write a note expressing gratitude.

During this Thanksgiving season, I hope you are encouraged to find reasons to be thankful and opportunities to express that gratitude to all those who make your life a little better!

Looking for similar blog posts on team culture and appreciation?
Check out the following blogs: 11 Easy Staff Appreciation IdeasThe Struggle is Real: Incentivizing Your Lifeguard Team