A Pool Bag? What about Hersheypark?
If you've been around Feels Like Home a while, you know that we have had season passes to Hersheypark for many years. We have long enjoyed the rides and the pools. Unfortunately, over the last year or so, we started to walk around sort of aimlessly. We still loved the waterpark, but we only rode a handful of rides, and the kids were kind of over the whole thing. Two years ago, we talked about not renewing our passes but did. This past year, we decided not to.
Since we had some extra money lying around, I started looking into pool memberships in our area. Remembering the recommendation of a church friend from years ago, I did a little research and found that pool she told me about, about a twenty minute drive from our house. I called them and found out we would have to be put on their waiting list.
So we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, in March of this year, we got a letter that our number had come up, and we could purchase a membership to the pool. We all did a little happy dance.
Never having been a member of a pool before, I thought I had no idea what we'd need to pack for a day there.
But then, the more I thought about it, I realized that it was pretty much the same as Hersheypark's waterpark - without all the walking to get there.
Of course, there are some differences, too, and they make the pool an even better investment for us right now. I can sit and read on my Kindle while my kids play in the water. We can bring a picnic or even use the pool's gas grills to have a cookout. We're allowed to bring rafts and water toys, both of which are banned at HP. There is a small snack bar, but it is entirely possible to go swimming all day and not spend any money at all. (Big difference from HP!)
So anyway, we are very happy with our new-to-us pool, and the kids have already been swimming twice in the five days it's been open so far this year. They would go every day if someone would drive them.
And also, Grace jumped off the high dive on her very first trip to the pool which completely astounded Joe and me. We couldn't believe what we were seeing even as we saw it, but there she was, flying through the air and splashing in the water. I was amazed and so proud of her.
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Organizing the Pool Bag
I keep our whole family's bathing suits in a clear plastic tub in my bedroom year-round because one never knows when a trip to an indoor water park might pop up, necessitating their use in the winter. This makes them perfectly accessible for the pool in the summer, too. I wash everyone's suits as soon as we get home, hang them up, and then put them back in the plastic tub as soon as they're dry.
We wear our bathing suits to the pool, and we often wear them home again, but we still take dry clothes just in case someone wants to change. My strategy is to use a wet bag for each person, packing one complete outfit with underwear into the bag. Then, I can hand the bag off to that person when it's time to dry off, and he or she can take it into the changing room, squeeze the excess water out of his or her wet bathing suit (in theory - I don't think this ever really happens), and deposit the wet suit into the wet bag, which then goes into my pool bag for the ride home.
I use one of those large, rectangular bags from thirty-one for my pool bag (Large Utility Tote, I believe). Back when we were Hersheypark bound, I used the same kind of bag, and always packed it with our snacks and swimming gear, and it was perfect.
In order to keep my pool bag ready to go at all times, I try to restock it as soon as we get home. I replace non-refrigerated snacks, make sure the sunscreen isn't empty, look for napkins, and empty the trash. I wash and dry our special pool towels (got fancy ones this spring at Walmart), and stick those in the bag as well. Then, as I said above, the wet swimsuits get washed, hung to dry, and then go right into the swimsuit tub in my bedroom.
As for snacks and meals at the pool, I have several thirty-one thermal totes including the really big one, and we pack those with reusable ice packs and our cold foods. We also have insulated stainless steel water bottles that keep our drinks cold. I have a thing about water stored in plastic tasting weird, so it has to be stainless steel for me, and those bottles work great to keep our drinks cold for the whole day.
Snacks for Your Pool Bag
So I listed snacks on the packing list, but what snacks exactly? I try not to give my kids crap food (fruity snacks, I'm looking at you), so we don't do a lot of traditional snacks.
Here's what we have used so far:
- Applesauce pouches
- Carrot sticks with ranch dressing
- Hard boiled eggs
- Snack cheese (individual servings in sticks or small sheets)
- Pickles (dill pickles and cheddar cheese is amazing)
- Peanut butter crackers
- Almonds (these cocoa covered almonds are also amazing)
- Wild Zora bars (LOVE these and wrote about them here)
- Healthy trail mix
A Last Word on the Pool Bag
Are you thinking now that I'm an insane over packer? I probably am. Maybe I don't really need all those things, but it makes me feel better to have them.
I think it might look as if we are moving into the pool when we arrive, but I don't really care. We have enough to eat, we have all the essentials, and I have plenty to do all day long.
And facilitating fun? That's the whole point of going to the pool in the first place, right?