Just in time: Camden opens first of two city pools

The pool was packed on opening day at North Camden Community Center, July 14, 2022. (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

The pool was packed on opening day at North Camden Community Center, July 14, 2022. (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

Camden, New Jersey is in the midst of opening its public pools. The mayor was among the first to enjoy a cool dip to kick off the pool season.

Mayor Vic Carstarphen entered the pool at the North Camden Community Center that was already filled with children and shouted ‘Camden Strong!’ to the media hoping to see him do a cannonball into the water. Even though it’s Mid-July, Carstarphen says this is the normal time to begin their pool season.

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The mid-July opening is just a bit behind their normal public pool schedule. Normally pools in Camden open around the Fourth of July.

“We usually start right after the Fourth of July and I believe just making sure it’s ready, all the shock treatment and everything together, you don’t want our kids to jump in a pool. That’s not 100%. You know, our kids need to jump in and have fun all day without feeling uncomfortable,” the mayor said.

North Camden Community Center’s pool opened up to the public on July 14, 2022. (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

The pool was filled with plastic pool toys and balls, along with children happy to get out of the 90-degree heat. The facility had multiple lifeguards keeping an eye on things, with two stationed at the shallow end of the pool to make sure the youngest children didn’t get into trouble.

Although finding lifeguards has been a problem in many places, Mayor Carstarphen said they had a full complement hired, and some of the youth in their Human Services Department took the lifeguard training to help out this summer.

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Angel Fuentes, who is the council president in Camden believes this is a time for people to enjoy being outside.

“I remember coming here to North Camden, we have swimming pools, we have spray pools and this is part of the quality of life we have talked about for many many months.”

Camden City Councilman Angel Fuentes speaking at the opening of the pool at North Camden Community Center, July 14, 2022. (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

The pools are open for four hours a day, five days a week with a staggered schedule. Carstarphen believes keeping them open for one session, instead of breaking it up into two is better for the children who want to stay in the pool. He considers the pools a safe haven that the city is happy to make available for youth.

“I’ve always considered that since I was a kid. I believe that still to be the same. The kids get a chance to get together with their friends, swim, and have fun under the proper guidance of our lifeguards. And it’s a beautiful thing, I’m looking forward to the kids enjoying themselves in our community.”

The other Camden pool at the Isabel Miller Community Center will be opening next week after maintenance work is completed.

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