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Recap: Navigating the Pandemic — Community Rec COVID-19 Roundtable


On April 23, Community Rec Magazine presented the first virtual roundtable addressing the COVID-19 crisis, how it’s affecting the industry and how community rec centers can navigate the crisis, sponsored by Welld Health.

The panelists were Chris Tointon, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Omaha; Art Krueger, the director of The Wave Aquatic and Fitness Center; Carrie Ohorodnyk, the executive director of the Rose E. Schneider Family YMCA; and Todd Rockoff, the president and CEO of the Tucson JCC.

The following is a summary of the top takeaways from the roundtable, including the impact of the pandemic, staff and member communication, and more.

Impact of COVID-19

  • A major challenge has been having to “rework how we work” — adjusting to working from home and away from our traditional offices.
  • Everything is now virtual, from live workout classes to educational resources online to team meetings via video calls.


  • It’s important to support staff members during this pandemic, especially those you’ve had to lay off or furlough. Give them resources to help guide them through applying through unemployment, and be there to answer any questions they might have.
  • Keep current and laid off employees updated on new developments, such as projected opening dates and changes to how long they’ll be paid.
  • Virtual meetings don’t have to be all business. Try organizing some meetings that are geared toward having fun and building social connections.

Memberships and Member Communication

  • One option after closing the facility is to continue drafting membership dues by default, but giving members ample opportunity to opt out and put the membership on hold, or make a donation.
  • Roughly 85% of YMCAs across the country have continued to draft membership dues and provide an opt out for members.
  • Clear communication is key — alert members each time their membership payment is about to be taken out, and be willing to work with each individual’s situation.

Youth Engagement

  • Camp and youth programs are a big priority once facilities open back up. Without their usual programming, children are losing out on learning and socializing opportunities, especially during the summer months.
  • Educating youth and families on proper swim safety without facilities is a big challenge. The Omaha YMCA has an online resource for swim safety here.
  • Like adult Group X classes, virtual workouts for kids are an effective way to get whole families being active together.
  • One concern is the amount of time children are spending alone, not being social. Some might have trouble picking up social skills again and knowing how to interact with each other.
  • Esports are growing in popularity across the country, and are a great way to get a wide variety of children engaged in teamwork and competitive activities.

Life After COVID-19

  • Usage of virtual offerings could be a blessing in disguise. Once facilities are open again, virtual workouts can allow organizations to accommodate more members.
  • Factors like mandated class sizes, drop off policies for camps and after school programs, and health and safety protocols for all programming will be in a fluid state for the next several months, so it’s important to be flexible.
  • How willing will members be to come back Day 1?
  • Community partnerships will be critical to bouncing back after the crisis and continuing to provide necessary services.

Self Care

  • Having a schedule is important to being productive while working from home.
  • Stay connected to people — give yourself some social interaction. Try reaching out to people you might not normally reach out to.
  • While working from home, establish proper expectations for your work day with your family members.
  • Do at least one thing per day that’s just for you, like going on a walk or watching an episode of your favorite show.
  • Exercise — there’s no reason not to. Since you’re in your living room, try a group exercise class you might’ve been intimidated to try in person.


To access the on-demand version of this webinar, click here.

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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