Keep Team Parties Simple

At the end of every season our club holds a team dinner and the swimmers love it!  I think it’s nice for them to spend time with their friends and coaches outside of the pool. Food, drinks, and some acknowledgement of a person’s hard work goes a long way to create good memories. I fully support the idea, but sometimes parents take something simple and make it larger than it needs to be.

A sign-up was posted asking for parents to help setup for the team dinner this year. I admit there were not a lot of names on the list and it bothered me. I decided right away that I would help out.  After all, this was a two hour dinner on a Saturday night and it sounded like a reasonable request.

A few days later I got a confirmation email saying I was to show up 5 hours prior to the event. Five hours! What in the world was going to take so long? I knew the meal was being catered so no cooking would be involved. I envisioned disposable place settings, plastic tablecloths from the local dollar store, and a buffet table. Well, I was way off base!

When I arrived there were parents swarming the area with boxes and crates overflowing with decorations and hand crafted displays.  I found myself in the middle of an over-the-top theme party where no detail was overlooked.

Fog machine, check! Red carpet entrance way, check! Indoor light show, musical entertainment, table decorations, plated dinner service, and the list went on. It rivaled a wedding or high school prom.

I was asked to do all kinds of things that afternoon in order to help carry out the theme. Some of the tasks flew in the face of safety and common sense, but I played the role of worker bee and just went along with it. I told myself it was only (gulp!) a few more hours, and it would all be over. Thankfully, nobody got hurt.

Of course I gushed over the evening plans, marveled at the talent and creativity of others, and took photos for proof this really happened. I did my assigned tasks with a smile and tucked away several amusing stories to share with my husband later that evening. The whole I time I kept thinking, “This is too much.”

In the end, I was awe-struck by what the event organizers accomplished, and I couldn’t help wondering if the kids really appreciated the effort. On the way home I quizzed my brood about the event. It turns out they didn’t remember much about the decorations, said the food was just okay and they would have preferred pizza or pasta, but they had a good time. Ultimately, that’s the only thing that mattered.

So, what’s the takeaway? Whether you are in a club that throws fancy parties, or in a smaller club and worry you are not doing enough, just remember this:

  • The swimmers are happy to be together no matter what kind of an event you plan. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself and others.
  • The coaches, swimmers and parents appreciate all of your efforts, both big and small. You are contributing to some really special childhood memories.
  • Keep things simple so you don’t burn out the current volunteers or scare away new ones. If volunteers have a positive experience they will continue to help when asked.
  • Don’t set the bar too high for your events. This increases the change that nobody will want to take it over and you will have to continue doing it. Forever.

How does your team celebrate the end of the season?

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