The Fox Valley Park District regrets to announce that Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center will be closed during the 2022 season.
The District remains impacted by the national lifeguard shortage and current labor climate, said Jaime Ijams, the FVPD’s director of recreation.
The American Lifeguard Association projects that at least one-third of public pools in the U.S. risk being shut down or changing hours to accommodate this summer’s imminent staff shortages.
“It’s been trending this direction for a few years, and our hope was to at least flatten the curve, if not reverse it a bit here locally,” Ijams said. “Our staff has never worked harder to recruit new team members. We held our own job fair, attended others throughout the Fox Valley and visited area high schools to outline all the benefits of being a lifeguard.”
Despite increased recruiting efforts, the District’s outreach did not result in an adequate number of candidates to hire and train, thereby compromising swimmer safety and facility management efficiency.
The District also owns and operates outdoor aquatics at Splash Country Water Park, which will open as planned, and the indoor Vaughan Athletic Center. Ijams said 160 lifeguards are required to operate all three facilities concurrently, along with more than 70 additional staff to support other areas, such as admissions, swim lessons, slide attendants, managers and camp counselors, at the outdoor water parks.
“Ideally, we needed to be about 90% staffed at this point to get new team members onboarded and trained – and we fell significantly short of that target,” Ijams said. “Considering the current hiring market and what we’ve seen during the past three months of our recruiting outreach, we had to adjust our summer schedule.”
“We considered several factors and, unfortunately, opening Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center was not possible this summer, purely from a safety standpoint.”
Lifeguard certification requirements and facility capacity were two key factors considered, before District officials ultimately decided to close Phillips Park.
The more strenuous, deep-water lifeguard certification is required at Phillips, which features a 10-foot-deep plunge pool; and Splash Country can accommodate 500 more guests than its outdoor counterpart.
“We automatically increase our current guard staff by 10% at Splash Country, which doesn’t require deep-water certification,” said Sandie Gilmer, the FVPD’s recreation superintendent. “That doesn’t mean we’re home free. We’ll continue to pursue candidates for all open positions, with the goal of having all attractions in operation every day.”
Season Passes were offered to either Splash Country or Phillips Park this season. Anyone who purchased a Season Pass to Phillips Park will have it automatically transferred to Splash Country. Phillips Park passholders can also request a full refund, providing they’re requested by Monday, June 6. To request a refund, Season Pass holders should email email@example.com.
Splash Country hours of operation
Splash Country Water Park will be open Memorial Day Weekend (May 28-30), before the full season runs from June 4 to August 7. The water park will shift to weekend-only hours August 13-14, 20-21, 27-28 and September 3-5.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will all Splash County amenities be open for the 2022 season?
We’re committed to having all amenities open every day of the 2022 season; however, we currently do not have enough lifeguards to guarantee it. Staff continues its active recruitment of lifeguards and we’ll do our best to provide coverage for all amenities inside the park.
Will you have evening hours at Splash Country?
Splash Country will mirror Phillips Park hours Monday-Thursday, and will remain open until 7:30 p.m. every night, weather permitting.
We like Splash Country because it has always opened earlier. Will I have the opportunity to enter the park early with my family?
Splash Country will offer Parent/Tot Swim and Lap Swim from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Monday-Thursday – free for Season Pass holders, and at a reduced rate for guests. This applies to families with children ages 6 and under. The main pool (up to 2 feet), play features in the zero-depth pool, spray playground, and sand area will be open during this time. Season Pass holders are welcome to stay and enjoy lunch in the concessions area between 11:30 a.m. and noon, while staff prepares for Open Swim. Lap Swim will offer one lap lane for anyone who wishes to continuously swim or aqua walk.
Splash Country will open at 10:30 a.m., Friday through Sunday. Season Pass holders will have the option of entering the park at 10 a.m.
What types of programming will you offer at Splash Country?
Swim lessons, aqua fitness, special events and camps will be offered at Splash Country this year. For details, please see our Summer Activity Guide, which will be posted online Thursday, April 28.
Will you be raising daily fees?
Even as operations expenses have increased, we’ve kept admission fees the same for several years to provide an affordable experience for our guests.