Ismael Carrillo and his sons stop for a past photo. Carrillo will be the new manager at Adventure Bay Water Park starting this summer, and he said he is excited to see how the season ultimately ends up for the community. Courtesy photo

ELLY GRIMM

    • Leader & Times

 

Adventure Bay Water Park will officially open for the season this weekend, and patrons will see a new yet familiar face in the manager’s seat for this summer.

Ismael Carrillo will be the facility manager starting this summer after serving as the assistant manager for multiple years.

“I've worked at Adventure Bay Water Park since the summer of 2018, which was my first year in Liberal as a teacher. The manager at that time had asked me to come and work there, and I initially said 'no,' but she was persistent and kept asking me before I finally said I would try it out, and I've been the assistant manager since then,” Carrillo said. “There was one day here at school when I was sitting outside my classroom and greeting my students as they came in, and the pool manager at the time, Jessica Tercero, walked by. We started talking and she gave me a hypothetical situation about a student and asked what I would do in that situation. So I told her my thoughts, and she said 'THAT'S why I want you to work for me, you're great at reading all sides of a situation and understand how children think.' I knew at that point I was kind of hooked, and I ended up applying and going to the trainings and everything else. My first year was a great time, and Jessica was a great mentor and taught me how to be selfless and think about what the lifeguards were going through and all the work they put in. A particular bit of advice I remember from her is 'If YOU'RE not willing to do a task, don't make them do it.' She made me help with maintenance and some of that other work, and it really helped me understand what the other employees were going through during a shift, and that's what's kept me at the pool since then.”

Then, another change came at the end of last summer.

“Daniel Minde had made us aware he would be resigning at the end of last summer, and I texted Matt Quint at the Recreation Department and said 'I don't know if you've already got someone in mind, but I'd like to put my hat in the ring for manager,'” Carrillo said. “Last September, after the pool was closed and everything was put away for the year, he interviewed me and ultimately said I was the guy. He knew I'd already worked there for a while and had the lay of the land and knew what patrons liked.”

Shortly after his hiring, Carrillo said there were some discussions about the future of the facility.

“I talked a lot with Matt as far as what our goals were in terms of expansion and growth, and one of the big projects he talked about was the splash pad, which will be going in at the former McCray Pool spot, and that should be really exciting,” Carrillo said. “There's also been discussion about putting in a lazy river area at Adventure Bay, and those plans are still there, but there's been a lot of other, more important, work that's had to happen before that becomes a reality.”

With this being his first year in the manager’s chair, Carrillo said there is a lot of excitement.

“Luckily, because I've already been part of the pool staff for a while, I've been part of the changes that have happened around there, and one of the particularly good changes has been bringing back the position of Head Guard,” Carrillo said. “We have a full squad of lifeguards for this summer – in fact, if anything, I have too many people right now, which is good because it's been a bit of a struggle in the past to get applications. We'll still do the Pet Day at the Bay at the end of the year, and we're wanting to bring back the movie nights for families and some night swim events, which is something I know a lot of people have wanted for a long time. With this being my first year in the manager position, I'm going forward with a little caution because I want to make sure first and foremost that everyone has a great experience when they come and visit Adventure Bay, and that includes the community and the Adventure Bay employees. There won't be too many HUGE changes this year, but we are coming up with some ideas to explore for the future once everything gets a little more settled. In the future, I'd love to have some theme days, because there are a lot of ways to make those really, really fun for people – like maybe there's a Hula Day or a Pink-out where everyone shows up wearing pink swimwear or something like that. Things like that just make the pool experience more fun, and I'd like to see us do some things like that.”

The facility’s crew, Carrillo added, is another great perk for the community.

“Seeing the employees' growth is the best part. I've seen young lifeguards start rather green, so to speak, and then they grow in skills and confidence as time goes on, and it's amazing to watch that,” Carrillo said. “One of my employees this year has been working there since his freshman year, and he's a senior this year, and it's been great seeing that growth and maturity since he started.”

The pool is set to open at the end of the month, and Carrillo said he hopes to see a lot of people throughout the summer.

“The support from the community shows in the attendance – the more people who come, the more the city leadership and others see how much the facility is wanted and needed,” Carrillo said. “For change to happen, and for any expansion to take place as far as new attractions and things like that, we need the community's support and attendance. For us to get more, we need that support from the community. Also, we'll just have a lot of fun going on at the pool, and we want everyone to experience it as much as possible.”

Overall, Carrillo said, he and his staff are excited for the summer.

“I'm very excited about my staff, I've got multiple returners, so that's amazing. Our staff last year did a fantastic job every day, and I'm so, so glad to have so many of them coming back this summer. I'm also excited to be out and about back in the sun and seeing families at the pool splashing around and having a good time and screaming as they're going down the slides,” Carrillo said. “I enjoy helping people have a great experience at our facilities, and I hope we can do that again this summer. We're ready to open up soon, and we just want anyone and everyone to come out to Adventure Bay and have a good time. We've got a great crew working there, so everyone will stay safe and have a good time, and there'll be a lot of fun going on, so just come on out and spend some time with us!”

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