The indoor pool facilities at the Warren Community Center were voted an audience favorite by Click On Detroit.

The indoor pool facilities at the Warren Community Center were voted an audience favorite by Click On Detroit.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Learn swim safety now for summer fun later

Camps integrate water safety into curriculum 

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published March 7, 2018

 Counselors, many with a Scouting background or emergency training, are on hand to watch children play.

Counselors, many with a Scouting background or emergency training, are on hand to watch children play.

File photo by Brian Louwers

METRO DETROIT — As Michiganders, spoiled with the Great Lakes and numerous other bodies of fresh water, summer often means plenty of time spent swimming. 

So it’s no surprise that, perhaps more than any other state, summer camps in our state hone in on water fun and, more importantly, water safety. Swim lessons and swim camps are available around the mitten to help kiddos earn their water wings and prepare for safe swimming fun. 

Kimberley Crabtree, general manager of AquaTots swim school of Sterling Heights, said families come to the school throughout the year to enroll their kiddos in lessons. The nice thing, she said, is that the lessons are on a perpetual schedule — you can start and stop whenever you want, including right now, months before lakes open for the summer season.

“We hear from a lot of families who want their children to be safe around the water, and especially from parents who have pools, live on the lake, that type of thing. They really want their kids to learn early, even as babies, to not be afraid of the water,” said Crabtree.

Water activities have always been a big part of the day camps at the Warren Parks and Recreation Department, according to Director Henry Bowman. The department hosts swim lessons throughout the year, with discounted rates and alternative times like Sunday evenings and early mornings, Bowman said, but it’s the water adventures during camp days that really excite the kids.

“On hot summer days, it just makes sense to get people in the water as much as possible,” he said. “We’ll do trips to the ballgame and educational institutions that the kids don’t really know are educational, but with all the great things to do in southeast Michigan, going to play in the water is one of the kids’ favorites.”

As part of the schedule, campers take field trips to Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township, Red Oaks Waterpark in Madison Heights and, of course, the indoor pool tucked right inside the Warren Community Center.

“We won best indoor swimming pool by Click On Detroit,” said Bowman. “People come from all over to use the pool and (splash pad), so we spend a lot of time and effort and spend a lot of money to make sure our (facilities) have great water quality, constantly making sure our standard of excellence stays where it needs to be.”

The counselors for the Warren day camps are often college students with a background in Scouting or other emergency training, so parents can breathe a sigh of relief knowing their kids are having a good time under responsible supervision.

That’s really what makes swimming enjoyable after all, according to Crabtree — when everyone in the water knows how to keep themselves and others out of danger.

“There really isn’t a way to know if your child is ready for swim lessons, because they’re always going to be ready. Like so many other things, it’s a life skill we need to teach our kids. Swimming is something every person should know how to do, especially around here,” she said. “It just happens to be a fun skill to learn. Here, we say ‘safety first, fun every second.’”