Finding Belonging and Connection Through the ‘Train Your Own’ Program

Chilliwack YMCA swim instructors

When the Chilliwack YMCA temporarily closed its doors for renovations, there were so many shining examples of how the spirit of the Y persevered. This was especially true for the Chilliwack YMCA’s Aquatics team.

Knowing that the new centre of community would need certified, dedicated staff to instruct swim lessons and provide quality lifeguarding, the Chilliwack YMCA embarked on the ‘Train Your Own’ program months prior to the opening. The training program was a unique opportunity for youth to learn all of the skills necessary to become swimming instructors and lifeguards at the YMCA while also getting paid to learn these skills.

Under the leadership of the Aquatics Manager, Amanda Bemister, and leadership staff, new staff—the majority being high school and university students—were trained and mentored. Participants had a whole range of experience. Some had their Bronze Cross certificates while others didn’t know how to swim! So, with this in mind, Amanda created individual training plans for each participant to ensure that everyone on the team would reach their full potential and meet the same standard at the end.

This offered trainees a glimpse into the supportive work environment that the Chilliwack YMCA’s Aquatic team had to offer. During those months, they worked hard and learned many technical, water-safety and first aid skills—of course, they had a lot of fun along the way too! Amanda would often treat participants to doughnuts and pizza parties and found other ways to bring the team closer together. It’s no surprise that the team built a strong camaraderie over those months which can be seen every day at the pool.

The Aquatics team is made up of a staff of 21 wonderful, passionate individuals. Every day, they bring their passion and high-energy to work. And because of this, children, teens and adults alike all learn how to swim in a fun and safe environment.

“These kids are amazing! It was a lot of work but it was definitely worth it,” Amanda gushed when telling us about the team and the training program.

For Travis Daleman, Aquatic Team Member, the highlight of being a part of the Aquatics team is the connection they have all built over the months. “It definitely feels like a team. Everyone is happy to help each other out and it feels so supportive,” he shared.

We are so proud of our Aquatics team and the incredible leaders who guide them. The teamwork that they display is exemplary of YMCA values and is very inspiring!