"What we do is far far more than just a job," Sheets said, explaining that employees work as a team to create a positive recreational environment for families.
Custodians are tasked with creating an environment of cleanliness, not just sweeping floors. Front counter employees get to know customers by name, look them in the eye and smile. Lifeguards show up before their shifts start so they are prepared to greet the public when the pool opens, he said.
In the summer they hire around 120 new staff members to help with everything from sweeping and custodial work to concession stands, to water instructors, lifeguards, front counter employees, kids club counselors and tennis instructors. These jobs see a lot of high school and college-aged students for the summer.
"At a very young age, they learn what it means to work hard," he said, adding that he hopes their future employers will recognize the reliability and work ethic they develop.
Every employee's job is important, Sheets said, and his employees come back year after year to work as part of a team.
Whitney Olsen started as a lifeguard at the Kearns Fitness Center in the summer of 2010. She is a college student and will return to work for the summer. She likes the ease of scheduling and is excited to teach new hires the ropes.
"It feels like a family," Olsen said.
Not all recreation centers in Utah have not seen sharp growth, despite the good economy. The pool staff at Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center is down, according to the center's aquatics director, Lyse Durrant.
Traditionally her workers are younger than 20, but that pool of once-available workers has dwindled, partly because of lower age requirements for LDS missionaries. This has been problematic for Durrant who also needs more staff to work fewer hours because of the pending Affordable Care Act.
This will affect Brian O'Neal, 15, who will only be able to log 29 hours per week at the recreation center. This summer, O'Neal will start his first summer job as a junior lifeguard. He plans on working the full 29 hours weekly in addition to his competitive swim practice and meets.
Lifeguards complete training in CPR and first aid to prepare them to respond to emergencies. Although the idea of rescuing a patron is daunting, O'Neal said he is prepared to respond to such situations.
“It’s always going to be nerve-wracking but as long as you stay up on everything and review procedures, it should go pretty smoothly,” he said.
In addition to his training, he looks forward to developing a strong work ethic and responsibilities that will prepare him for future jobs.
Frogley will log 13- to 14-hour days between his two jobs while he and his wife save up for their first baby, due in the fall. In November he will wrap up work with the landscape company and resume his studies in finance.
The options for summer jobs are limitless, Frogley said. In past summers he sold pest control, corn on the side of the road, and also worked at Kmart and at a cemetery.
"If you like change, it's nice to have an end in sight," Frogley said of summer employment.
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