B is for Baboosic Lake

B is for Baboosic Lake: a small lake tucked into a corner of Amherst, NH. We moved to Amherst in 1986 and my mom became the waterfront director and we spent our summers at Baboosic Lake. Each spring we would open the padlock on the gate and begin the process of assessing the damage left be the winter and vandals. The readiness checklist was endless. There were toilets to be fixed, playground equipment to be painted, docks to be sanded, and ducks to be relocated. We’d move on to the guardhouse and snack-shack where we’d take inventory of the equipment, sweep out the mice nests, reconnect the refrigerator and so on. I remember my mom working tirelessly down the clipboard checklist and me, as a moody and sulky adolescent, pretending to do work while mumbling something about it not being fair.

Once all the sprucing up was done, there were lifeguards to hire and train – college kids looking for good tans and minimal labor. I wasn’t privy to most of her interaction with them but I do remember that she wasn’t afraid to fire for insubordination or recklessness. My brother and I remember our mother as all business and she ran a tight ship. We were brought along to all the training and orientation sessions and were used as her “dummies” for water rescue and back boarding. We may not have liked it, but we were subordinate charges.

In addition to waterfront director, my mother was also the swim team coach. Our team was a rag-tag bunch of only twenty kids that she had to strategically divide into five age groups. Our meets were against tony swim and tennis clubs with their qualified swim teams of more than fifty swimmers. It was intimidating but we were not deterred because our coach was fearless and unfazed by their matching swim team bathing suits and multiple coaches. She registered us, gave an inspiring pep-talk and read off the events of the day from her clipboard. Even though our small team was not represented in each of the events, it didn’t stop her from trying to maximize our team points. She’d look up from her clipboard, “Okay, I need someone for the 100 meter butterfly. Anyone? (don’t make eye contact, don’t make eye contact) Amanda, you can do that!” It’s not easy being the swim coach’s daughter.  “200 individual medley? Anyone? Amanda!”

It came as no surprise when I started teaching swimming at the YMCA and then got my lifeguard certification. Coincidently it was the same year she put down her own whistle after nearly 50 years. The baton was passed. You could say it’s in my blood. I’m not a camp director or waterfront director but for now I have my toes in the water and carry a clipboard.

Here is a photo of my Mom at my brother’s wedding last year. Notice the clipboard. You can bet that things went swimmingly that day.