Q&A: Waterfront staff recognized for Water Olympics

Matt Burkhartt | Staff Photographer
Boys’ and Girls’ Club waterfront counselors Ann Lyons and Bryan Voorhis stand on the dock behind the Heinz Fitness Center. Photos of this season’s Water Olympics will run in Thursday’s Daily.

Reporter’s Note: Each week, the directors at Boys’ and Girls’ Club recognize a few Club counselors who performed exceptionally within their groups. Because of the efficiency of this year’s Water Olympics, Club directors named the entire waterfront staff Counselors of the Week. Chuck Bauer, director of the waterfront at Club, acknowledged two experienced members of waterfront staff for being instrumental in orchestrating the day’s events. The Daily met up with Bryan Voorhis and Anna Ertenberg to discuss Water Olympics, camaraderie at Club and a car wash service that cleans kids.

This week must have been busy with Water Olympics on Wednesday. What did you do to prepare for the event?

Anna: Last week — Week One — we did a lot of our preparation. We picked out who was going to do what activities. We tried to make sure all the counselors were comfortable with their groups and the events, so we paired an older counselor with a newer staff member. During Week Two, we focused on getting all our supplies together and making sure we were organized for the day. We had a staff meeting where we discussed how to rotate and how the different contests worked. It was a full two-week preparation process. We got everything together and Wednesday we finally got to put it on.

 With the large crowd on Wednesday, was it a challenge to keep everyone organized?

Bryan: It was definitely organized chaos. The fact that Chuck [Bauer] has been here for a number of years, and Anna and I have been here for a number of years, allows the Olympics to run very smoothly. We had it down to a certain amount of time for each activity before the kids rotate. With the kayak races, we were getting one group ready by getting their life jackets on while the other group was in the water. So, as soon as they got out, the other group was ready to get in. It’s pretty efficient, the way that we run it.

Anna: We have a fairly seasoned staff; almost everybody has been here for at least a year. Bryan and I have had time to perfect the Olympics. And there are a lot of people who have been here for four or five years, so that helps, too.

It seems that the participants in Club get to become friends in a very short amount of time, sometimes in just one week. How are they able to form those relationships?

Bryan: When I started 13 years ago, about 80 percent of the kids who came through Club were seasonal. They were here for the full nine weeks. Now it’s pretty much flip-flopped where 20 percent or less of the kids are seasonal, and most come for just a week or two. One of the things that we stress at Club is getting to know people, getting along. I think the counselors do a great job with that. When the kids first get here they go through an orientation process with their counselors. All of our lessons are with the smallest groups possible so we get to know them all on a first-name basis.

Anna: Also, I think that because we assign the kids a buddy that they have to go into the water with, they are more encouraged to form these relationships. They know that they have to look out for that other person and know where he or she is. And the kids get to do so many activities with each other, so they form great friendships with the others while they’re here.

Water Olympics is one of the events at Club that combines the competition aspect with the friendship aspect. Which of those is most important during the event?

Bryan: I definitely think there is a great feeling of camaraderie for the kids during Water Olympics. We separate the teams into the blue and the red, but they are always cheering each other on and work together. As soon as it’s over, the kids could care less what the final score is. They are just happy to be down here swimming, eating watermelon. They get to hang out with their parents and grandparents, which is great for all the families that come down here.

What are you most looking forward to in these remaining seven weeks at Club?

Bryan: On Friday, July 11, we’re hosting Club Carnival, which is our biggest fundraiser for the Chautauqua Fund. For the waterfront staff, we put on a “kid car wash” where we suds up the kids and spray them with hoses and pull them through like a mini car wash. The kids tend to really enjoy that.

Anna: Track and Field Day is coming up, too. And Bryan and I have been paired up for the track events. Bryan tracks the kids’ times, and I record all of it. So we get to see how the kids perform in the water for Water Olympics, but we also get to see how they do with land events at Track and Field Day.