The Pool is the best place for Summer Contact Work

pool2aIt’s open season for the Pool.  Here in Northern VA, Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of Pool season.  And, even with the colder weather to start the weekend, many kids and families embarked on the pool for a very long season of fun in the sun.

As I was there with my girls this past week, I had an epiphany.  I’ve had similar ephanies before, but this one was a little bit more specific.  That epiphany was that I believe some of my best contact work I can do all summer is to be at the pool.

“What?!?!  Are you crazy Tom?  You are a slacker and only want to work on your tan so you don’t go on your yearly beach trip looking like a ghost.”

Although I would laugh and maybe slightly agree with your comment (who wants to go to the beach with a crazy farmers tan?).  It is actually a legitimate thought.  I believe this for 2 very specific reasons.

Potential interactions with parents. Tweens and teens like to go to the pool themselves. I know my tween does. But just like my family, most Tweens have younger siblings. That means parents go to the pool, too. With parents watching their young children around the pool there are tons of opportunities for you to interact with them. And, with parents the conversation usually goes from children (“which ones are yours?”, “look at him jump around”, etc) to jobs (“do you have the day off?”, “what do you do?”). As you continue the conversation, it provides you with a great opportunity to share about your ministry.

I have found that even though it may seem weird at first and you may think that they don’t want to hear about it (you’ll know if they aren’t really interested), there are definitely times when people engage the conversation even more. Maybe they have been looking for a place to connect and haven’t found one yet. Maybe they are dealing with something that they need someone to process with. Whatever it may be, I have found pool interactions with parents to be very rewarding and at the very least seed-planting.  I have yet to go to the pool this season and not have at least 1 conversation with a parent.

Potential interactions with students. Tweens and teens love to go to the pool. When they are younger it is strictly for fun and to swim.  But as they get older, a switch occurs.  They go to socialize. My tween daughter was the perfect example the other day. While my other daughters went to the pool and swam immediately, my tween sat on her chair, said hello to her fellow tween-agers and then proceeded to listen to music while she did Instagram.  She got into the pool occasionally but she was looking to socialize.

Because they are there to socialize, it provides me, a youth leader, an opportunity to talk to them.  Young Life does this so well with the training of their leaders but it is the simple, “Go where teens are” and “be seen”.  Well, during the summer, tweens and teens are at the pool.  AND, if you want to start new friendships, develop existing ones and make some memories while doing it, the pool is the perfect place to start.

I know the the word “pool” implies fun, vacation and not working.  However, being a minister means that we are always “on” and working.  That means that even an hour trip to the pool can be a ministry opportunity.  And, if you are looking at building relationships with new people this summer, the pool is probably your best bet at doing that.

Thoughts?  Experiences?  Share them below so that we can all benefit and learn from them.

Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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