The 7 Essentials of a Backyard Swim Club

Every summer our backyard transforms from "place we park our cars" into "Club Klems," an exclusive membership-only water park where dreams magically come true and cell phones unintentionally get waterlogged. The hours are very sporadic. Sometimes it's only open for 45 minutes. Sometimes the staff prepares it for an all-day weekend affair (excluding a short, 2-hour window in the afternoon where the Club shuts down for maintenance—and naptime). Club Klems gets rave reviews:

"It's almost as fun as going to the real pool," says Ella, Club member since 2007. 
"I love playing with the water toys at Klems Club. Is that what you wanted me to say Daddy?" says Anna, Club member since 2009.
"Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz … " says Mia, Club member since May.

Like most backyard swim clubs, Club Klems opens up on those hot, humid days just after you realize you cannot handle another episode of The Backyardigans and just before your wife suggests something silly like doing yard work. It's filled with all the essentials to make sure all have a great time. Here I'd like to share with you the 7 Important Elements of Making a Perfect Backyard Swim Club. Populate your yard with these items and the only thing bigger than the smiles on your kids' faces will be your water bill. 

1. Wading Pool
This is your first purchase. No swim club is complete without a pool for the kids to continually empty with buckets. You fill it up, it empties. You fill it up, it empties. You fill it up, sternly warn the members about your No-Dumping-Out-The-Water policy, and it empties. You'd leave the hose on, but no one adheres to the Don't-Take-The-Hose-Out-Of-The-Pool-And-Spray-Dad policy either.

2. Buckets
What else would the kids use to empty the pool?

3. Spray bottles/Watering Cans
Help them fill up any toy that sprays and they'll water your feet, your pants, your cell phone. They'll water anything in plain sight.  They'll even water your lunch. If you're lucky, they'll water the bird crap off your car.

4. Lifeguards
This position is unpaid, unappreciated and unprotected from getting sprayed in the face. It requires that you calmly resolve disputes, such as "She's had the Dora bucket for almost 7 seconds. SEVEN SECONDS! And she won't give it to me!" It also requires that you keep members from peeing in the pool.

5. Chairs
Whether you have a small butt (like our members) or a big butt (like unnamed people who tried to get me to do yard work), you must provide comfortable seats for everyone. This allows members to kick their feet up and relax. It also allows the lifeguard to put uncooperative members in timeout.

6. Water Table
This addition came to Club Klems in 2010 (thanks to a donation from aunt Jennie). I was skeptical at first, but it's become a fan favorite. Members splash, fill up cups, play with floating toy animals and more. It's a perfect place for those who prefer to play in the water without getting completely soaked. Plus, some members choose to occasionally drink out of it. I won't name names. Let's just say they've been members since 2007 and 2009.

7. Imagination
The truth is, you don't really need all of this stuff to have a good time. All you really need is a sprinkler, energy and street filled with kind neighbors who don't mind if you run shirtless across your yard in order to impress your daughters. (Note: I'll spare the Internet that photo).

It's memories like this that keep members renewing their membership year after year. It's also why Club Klems is my favorite part of the summer. I know one day the kids will trade in their swimmies and Dora buckets for water slides and wakeboards. But until that happens, I'll be appreciative of every hot, humid, soaked-lunch moment. We all will.

So thank you, Club Klems, for the memories. And thank you for getting me out of yard work.

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