Sheree Brame, CAP
Supervising Instructor Guard, Norfolk County Community Services

Share Some of Your Most Memorable Career-related Experiences

The first memorable career moment was starting out my aquatics career when I was 13 years old with the Manager of Recreation, Facilities and Parks and working for him until his retirement a short time ago. He was a great leader, coach and mentor for me. This person was very approachable and easy to speak to about any situation or issues. I spoke to him about professional development and what I could do to better myself and work towards a management position. This included enrolling in online courses and earning certifications through the ORFA. He made me feel like I could achieve anything, which was and still is very motivating to me. I appreciate everything he has have done for me. Another memorable moment in our recreation department for me was moving away from our Aquatics division. I was given the opportunity to work in our Programs department as the Programs Supervisor for a year parental leave. It was a great opportunity to see how another area in recreation works. I learned so much from the amazing staff I supervised, the community groups I worked with and the rest of the management team in our recreation division. It was an enjoyable and challenging experience, which I am grateful to have completed. A last memorable moment is one that is ongoing. It is the feeling you get when you have made a difference in someone’s day and or life. Some participants shared stories that they no longer have to go to a chiropractor because they have been coming to aqua-fitness classes. Other impactful moments are seeing a child you taught on their first day being so scared that they did not even want to get in the pool. But by the end of ten lessons they are putting their face in the water and trying to do a float on their own. These are just some of the examples that make my heart happy and make me continue to love what I do.

What Would You Describe As Some Of The Most Significant Workplace and/or Industry Challenges You Have Faced Over The Past Five Years?

Staff have got to be one of our biggest challenges over the last five years. It is partially due to the high schools going to a four-year program, which means we only get staff for two years, three if we are lucky to have some do the “Victory Lap”. Our other challenge for this is getting our younger participants to keep going up the ranks to become a lifeguards and instructors. It is very costly and time consuming to do so therefore it is much easier for them to apply to fast food chains or retail job opportunities.

Another challenge we have is in the increase demand for pool time. Our classes are increasing and the swim team is growing…we just don’t have the time and space that everyone would like. It could be viewed as a good problem to have as a facility, but for the people wanting the increased time, unfortunately it is not.

How Has Your Involvement With The ORFA Affected Your Career?

The ORFA has provided me with opportunities to better myself through their professional development courses. I have achieved my CAP designation. I work at our outdoor facility and when viewing the ORFA website I noticed that they offered pool maintenance courses. I was very interested in learning more on the filtration system and chemistry of the pool. These programs increased my knowledge and understanding. I am now able to troubleshoot myself or by phone if necessary with our maintenance staff. The Legal Awareness course was also something you don’t want to miss. It opened my eyes to many things and when teaching and doing other things in my role, it makes me think more before I go and do it. This really came into effect for me when I was working in the Program Supervisor position and dealing with situations.

The ORFA has a great online resource tool that I have used as a source of reference when I needed clarification. The ORFA sends out email communications on job opportunities, courses being offered at other locations and news updates which I appreciate. One of the things I feel is really good is the formal recognition the ORFA does for people that achieve their designation. It’s a great way to show appreciation to their members.

Final Thoughts

I have very much enjoyed being a member with ORFA. I look forward to taking more professional development courses. I encourage anyone that has not taken a course from ORFA that is reading this to do so, you will be happy you did.

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