Who are you, and what’s your role at Refreshing Mountain?
My name is Debbie Mellinger, and I am the Pool Manager at Refreshing Mountain. I started 3 years ago as a part-time Lifeguard and Lifeguard Instructor. I fell in love with the camp and the other employees immediately upon beginning to work here. The atmosphere is one of positivity, life, and having fun together with your friends and family. At the end of the first summer of working at RM, my director asked me if I would be interested in being the Pool Manager the next summer, which would include taking over the responsibilities of training the guards, overseeing, and scheduling the guards for the summer.
Also, RM wanted to begin a Swimming Lesson Program and since I had been teaching swimming lessons for years, I was the perfect fit for the job! So, in the summer of 2020 and all the craziness of the COVID pandemic, we opened the pool a little later than usual and we made some changes to accommodate the mandates of the CDC. Our summer activities began with teaching one lifeguard class (of course with the changes that the American Red Cross stated for safety). We opened the pool with cleanliness protocol in place, controlling the number of people in the pool area at any given time, and spacing protocols in place. Then we began the swimming lessons and they were quite the hit with the community. We actually ended up doing two sets of classes that summer and many children learned how to swim and enjoy the pool even more because they were safe and not afraid.
What a great summer the summer of 2020 turned out to be!!! I am looking forward to the upcoming summer and will enjoy more of the same with lifeguard training, working with a wonderful pool staff of guards and swim instructors. I also enjoy helping make the pool experience at RM a safe and fun time for all!
What does your life look like outside of Refreshing Mountain?
A little back story to my life is that I didn’t become a lifeguard until I was 59 years old. I loved swimming as a child and swam on the swim team for years and the diving team for a year. Being in the water has always been my “happy place”. When I was younger I always wanted to be a lifeguard, but I began working as a waitress at age 14 and then my working years never came back to the pool to become a lifeguard. I got married young and had 4 children by the time I was 27 years old. Life took off and I raised my children and there was never time to become a lifeguard.
As all the children grew up, got married and moved out of the house, I found myself staring at the BIG 6 – 0, 60 years old. I thought to myself, “I wonder if I could still become a lifeguard? Am I still strong enough to do all the things that a lifeguard has to do?” I talked to my husband about and he said, “Go for it!” So, I signed up for the classes at the age of 59 and 10 months and guess what??? I did it! In fact, I ended up helping several of the younger students be able to do the required tasks. So, there’s where my lifeguarding career began! I felt like a teenager, going to work in a swimming suit, blowing my whistle at people, and getting the best tan of my life. I worked at a community pool for several years before coming to Refreshing Mountain pool.
I am married to a wonderful man named Bob. I have 4 grown children, all of whom I taught to swim, and 8 grandchildren, many of whom I taught to swim or helped with the process. I have 4 grown stepchildren and 7 step-grandchildren who love to swim and play in the water. My birthday is in the summer and whenever we celebrate my birthday, it usually involves swimming. I enjoy my job very much and am thankful for the opportunity to work at such a great place as Refreshing Mountain. Most of the time my job doesn’t feel like work, but rather just another summer day at the pool, much like my life as a kid!
What advice would you give to those who come to Refreshing Mountain pool?
Come and be refreshed – take advantage of what great opportunities are at the pool. Come and swim in the clear, fresh pool waters; come and sit on the lounge chairs provided for you and soak up some rays, read a good book, or take that much needed nap; come and have your children learn to swim and better enjoy the water features that RM provides. We run two sessions of swimming lessons for children of all ages. Making sure children are safe in the water as well as teaching them how to swim and better enjoy the water is an important part of a child’s growing and maturing years. Look on our website mid to end of April for more information on how to sign up for swimming lessons. Most of all – come, be refreshed, and enjoy the many features of Refreshing Mountain, especially the pool!