Dive into summer fun and the world of Greenville County Rec as we interview Ted Lambrecht, Assistant County Administrator for Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. Discover the amazing facilities and programs offered throughout the county, including water parks, summer camps, and job opportunities and learn about the growing popularity of pickleball and how Greenville County Rec is adapting to meet community needs. Whether you’re a parent, a sports enthusiast, or just looking to get outdoors, this episode will inspire you to explore and appreciate the impact of parks and recreation in building a vibrant community.
Katy Smith: Summertime is just around the corner and it’s the time of year when folks wanna get outside. Greenville County Rec offers 55 parks and facilities where residents and visitors can play, cool off, learn a new sport or skill, and just have fun. I’m Katy Smith with Greater Good Greenville, and on this episode of Simple Civics: Greenville County, I talk with Ted Lambrecht, Assistant County Administrator for Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Ted will talk about water parks summer camp, the fun park hop app, and opportunities for employment this summer. Take a look at the show notes for today’s episode for links to the many amenities and resources available through Greenville County Rec, so you know exactly where to go to have fun this summer.
Ted, thank you so much for being here today.
Ted Lambrecht: Katy, thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Katy Smith: Great. Can you start by just giving us the lay of the land about Greenville County Rec?
Ted Lambrecht: Sure. A little overview about Greenville County Rec is we have over 45 parks, across the 800 square miles that Greenville has. So as you can imagine, that’s a challenge to keep up with such a number of parks and, uh, the variety of parks we have. So our team consists of 90 full-time staff and then we ramp it up in the summer, uh, spring and summertime to over 400 part-time and seasonal folks. So that’s the staff are water parks, summer day camps, uh, maintenance crews, folks cutting grass out in the parks, things of that nature.
Katy Smith: That’s a big team for a big footprint and lot of amenities.
Ted Lambrecht: And it has been a challenge with the hiring, for example, really since Covid. Part-time staff has been a struggle with the volume that we hire. So anybody out there looking for summer jobs, things of that nature, definitely visit our our website, greenvillerec.com and check those out. Right now we’re still in need of probably about 75 lifeguards to fully staff Otter Creek, Discovery Island, and 7th Inning Splash.
Katy Smith: Wow. Well, let’s talk about those great water parks. If you are someone new to town, or if you haven’t had kids the age that draw you to the parks, we have three great water parks. Can you say a little bit more about the parks?
Ted Lambrecht: Sure. Discovery Island’s our oldest waterpark, the original waterpark in Simpsonville. We have two slides, a lazy river. It’s called a flow rider, which is an artificial wave that you can ride for surfing or boogie boarding. Between the three parks, we serve over a hundred thousand folks. Then also on the southern end of the county, off Piedmont Highway is Lakeside Park 7th Inning Splash. That has a large bulls slide and a traditional pool and a large splash pad with a baseball theme since that’s a big baseball complex for us where we do a lot of tournaments. Then in the northern end of the county, at at Northside Park, we have Otter Creek. So that’s a different environment than the other two. Uh, much larger pool deck, more open space, a large pool, and three slides. So our water parks will be opening up on Saturday, May 27th, just in time for Memorial Day weekend and run through Labor Day September 4th.
Katy Smith: Can’t wait.
Ted Lambrecht: I’ll be here before you know it.
Katy Smith: If you all haven’t been yet, I can tell you it is so much fun to take your kids. Go for the afternoon, sit in a chair, cool off. And as people are getting ready for summer and going to the water parks, and then maybe also going to the lake or to the beach, it’s really important for people to learn how to swim.
Does Greenville County Rec offer services for swimming?
Ted Lambrecht: Absolutely, Katy. They’re offered at the Greenville County Aquatic Complex, which is our indoor pool, obviously on the west side of Greenville, and the lessons are year round there. Uh, obviously in the summertime there’s much more demand than fall and winter, but they do go on year round. We got great staff, Star Guard actually is the name of the swim program that we, that we use.
Katy Smith: I mean, that’s a great service to county residents and we’ll put information in the episode page so you all can look up how to access those swim lessons if you’re interested, listeners. so thinking of summer, a lot of parents I’m sure are excited to see more of their children, but they might need a little help taking care of them if they work or just need a break.
So does Greenville County Rec offer summer camps for kids?
Ted Lambrecht: Absolutely. We have seven locations for summer camps. Most are on the west side of Greenville, and we also have a camp up north and serve in the Slater Marietta area and Slater Hall Community Center.
Katy Smith: Great. And what kind of things can kids do when they come to camp?
Ted Lambrecht: Obviously they visit our water parks. That’s, uh, obviously a highlight for a lot of the kids, cause not everyone gets the opportunity to visit those during the summer. But they do all kinds of various field trips. The, the hours are 7 AM to 6 PM.
Katy Smith: That’s great. What a wonderful help. And the kids get to have a great time while they’re there.
Ted Lambrecht: So exactly. The kids get to have a, a great time during the week and parents get a little bit of, of reprieve.
Katy Smith: Yeah. And if parents wanna sign their children up for summer camp, what is the registration process?
Ted Lambrecht: Registration’s available on our website. It’s the easiest way. Or you can visit any of our community centers or call our administrative office.
Katy Smith: Outstanding. So you mentioned the need to staff up your water parks. I’m guessing there’s lots of seasonal jobs, as you mentioned when you talked about the lay of the land. If folks want to apply for jobs, what do they do with Greenville Rec?
Ted Lambrecht: Once again, go to our website. It’s the best way for applying for any of our positions, but we have availability, like I said earlier, with our lifeguards. We’re looking to hire another 70 plus lifeguards, Day camp counselors, camp Spearhead, which is a residential camp for special needs folks, looking for male and female counselors there as well.
Katy Smith: That’s great.
Ted Lambrecht: So that’s a really unique opportunity. Talk about giving back to the community and just the service to the community. And there’s really… that camp’s really something, something different and special and you have the opportunity to see it, but to participate better yet as a, as a counselor, it’s really remarkable.
Katy Smith: And it’s a beautiful, beautiful place.
Ted Lambrecht: Yeah, it’s absolutely beautiful. If you’ve ever been up there, up off of highway 11.
Katy Smith: Now one place I know my family loved, which seems sort of the opposite of what you think of in Summer, is the pavilion and ice skating if you’re getting a little hot. Can you tell folks about the pavilion?
Ted Lambrecht: Sure. The pavilion, we like to call it the coolest place in town. Uh, like you, you said earlier it, a lot of folks don’t really think about that as a summertime activity, but it’s a great way to cool off, get outta the heat, beat the heat. If you get tired of going to pools and water parks, that type of thing, getting out on the ice is a great opportunity to also get some exercise.
Then we also have the bounce house, which is a room full of inflatables for younger aged kids that may not be able to skate or have trouble skating.
Katy Smith: And what I think is so great at the pavilion is you have lots of ways to help people who can’t skate, right? Aren’t there the kind of little walkers that children use?
Ted Lambrecht: We have walkers and then ice skating lessons as well that are, are year round. So that’s always an opportunity to teach folks to skate. And it’s, it’s amazing cuz you get kids three, four years old, all the way up to adults that are really seniors that take learn to skate lessons and get involved with skating.
Katy Smith: I love it. What do you love about working with Greenville County Rec?
Ted Lambrecht: Well, really what I love most is just the opportunity to work with all the county residents, um, and non-residents, cause tourism’s a big part of what we do as well with all the different tournaments at Conestee, at Lakeside Park. So we have a number of different tournament facilities out at the MESA Soccer Complex.
It’s another one of our large tournament sites. But just being able to serve the community, providing the programs we provide, cause it’s really a lot of unique opportunities that we have to serve the county residents.
Katy Smith: Yeah. I have a question for you, and this is probably like asking any parent about their favorite child, which they would not have one, but what is your favorite Greenville County Rec site?
Ted Lambrecht: Katy, you hit the, the nail right on the head there. I really can’t say I have a favorite. I mean, they’re all my favorites. When you have 45 to 50 facilities it’s, it’s tough to really name a favorite.
Katy Smith: Oh my gosh. Maybe we should put on our social media: you all tell us what your favorites are. I can tell you that one of my children’s favorites was Herdklotz Park.
Ted Lambrecht: And that is one of our very popular parks, has a very large playground. So it’s almost a destination type playground that we have at that location.
Katy Smith: It is a destination playground, y’all. If you haven’t been there, and you have children who run from young to older children, it has super tall slides and really difficult monkey bars. It’s a lot of fun and it’s good for you as a parent to get out there too and get a little exercise in as well.
Ted Lambrecht: Yep. Absolutely. Like I said, that’s definitely our largest playground within the system. We’d like to do, hopefully in the future, some other large playgrounds. Kind of model it after the Herdklotz set up that we have out there.
Katy Smith: Well, hopefully after people hear us talking, they feel really excited to get out there and check out all of the Greenville County Rec amenities. But there is an opportunity in particular to incentivize people to visit parks called Park Hop. Can you tell us a little bit about it, Ted?
Ted Lambrecht: Sure. Park Hop is was actually started by LiveWell Greenville. Really a, a partnership between LiveWell, the county parks, different city parks, and actually in the past couple years has expanded over to Spartanburg County as well. So it’s a great opportunity to get out and visit parks you otherwise may not have thought about visiting, to see what’s out there in the upstate as, as a whole.
And you receive a passport, they have an app, parkhop.org as well where you can get more information and fill out your passport. And at the end of the program, the end of summer, you’re able to win, win different prizes.
Katy Smith: It is super fun and especially if you wanna get your kids out of the house and get them excited to go check out new locations and they are incentivized by prizes. It’s a really great way to get out there and get moving.
Ted Lambrecht: Yeah, it’s been a very popular, very popular program. I’m glad to see that continuing.
Katy Smith: That’s so great. 55 facilities is a lot to manage, but there are probably are interesting plans that you have on the horizon for new things that might be coming online or things you’re thinking of expanding.
Ted Lambrecht: Well, currently Katy, we have a playground going in at Trailblazer Park behind the municipal court. So that’s something that’ll come online here in the next month. But really we’ve been focusing, trying to focus more so on just deferred maintenance. We have, like I said earlier, 45 plus parks. A lot of more older parks need some work.
So we’ve really been trying to make a good concerted effort with trying to maintain those parks before expanding our footprint too large. Speaking of that and that maintenance, so one of the other initiatives we’ve had over the past couple years, I’d say, is really trying to focus on some of our athletic courts. As I’m sure you are aware, pickle balls have become a very popular sport out there with county residents. We converted our six courts out at Northside Park, two of ’em into four pickleball courts, and then renovated the other four tennis courts and a basketball court. Then down south at Southside Park, that was an eight tennis court complex and that’s been converted to four tennis courts and resurfaced and 12 new pickleball courts. As well as resurfacing our two basketball courts at that location. So those courts are all very heavily used, uh, that we’re in poor condition up until the renovation.
Now they look phenomenal, have lots of compliments from all the basketball folks, pickleball folks, and tennis folks. They’re all able to happily coexist at both those locations now.
Katy Smith: Okay. One thing that is really fun for me to hear is that I regularly go to county council meetings. In this podcast, if folks have listened for a while, we talk about ways to engage with local government and advocate and make your voice heard. And oftentimes matching colored t-shirts comes up as a theme. If you’re going in as a neighborhood or a nonprofit wearing matching t-shirts.
And there was a season when we had people in light green t-shirts and a giant group at county council. And the first time they came, I thought, “I wonder what they’re here to advocate for.” And the first one got up at the podium and it was pickleball. They wanted more courts. So to see now, a couple years later, their wishes have been met by a really responsive local government in Greenville County Rec.
Ted Lambrecht: No, absolutely. I think we were very responsive with the pickleball folks. And as a matter of fact, when that first came to our attention and started receiving a number of requests for pickleball, first thing we did was form a, a committee. We have an advisory board, got some of our advisory board subcommittee kind of put together.
We involved the tennis folks cause like I said, we converted a number of tennis courts to pickleball courts. So I got tennis input as well as the pickleball folks. Formed a committee, put everyone in the same room, and we started hammering out, “Hey, here’s the locations that Greenville County has athletic courts. Here’s what we’re doing programming wise at certain locations.” For example, the pavilion, that’s a tennis site. We have a tennis pro on hand there, teaching lessons. So that really wasn’t a site where we were able to convert any course to pickleball. However, Northside and Southside, those are two locations where we did that.
And then in addition, what’s coming up on the horizon is an 18 court complex at East Riverside Park in Greer.
Katy Smith: Wow.
Ted Lambrecht: So that’s already in the works. We already have plans for that site, construction drawings. So that’ll be happening this, this summer and fall. Hopefully by the end of the year or early 2024, that complex will be open.
So in a matter of three years, we’ve gone from zero pickleball courts to 36 courts.
Katy Smith: Ted, that is so impressive.That is really, really responsive.
Ted Lambrecht: And as well as the tennis folks and basketball folks. So we’ve resurfaced a number of those courts as well as part of this, part of this initiative.
Katy Smith: I love the converting of some tennis courts to pickleball courts because I know, as I’ve gotten older, I’m converting from a tennis player to a pickleball player as my knee knees need a little help too.
Ted Lambrecht: No, sure. You definitely see a lot of former tennis players playing. It’s a little slower pace, obviously, than tennis, but I think what is appealing to a lot of the pickleball folks is just the, uh, social aspect of the game, like as it is with a lot of our adult sports.
Katy Smith: That’s right. I mean, parks build community and I just really appreciate all that you and your colleagues do to create great spaces for us to build a strong, a strong neighborhood, strong community, and a strong county.
Ted Lambrecht: Well, thank you Katy.
Catherine Puckett: Simple Civics: Greenville County is a project of Greater Good Greenville. Greater Good Greenville was catalyzed by the merger of the Nonprofit Alliance and the Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy. You can learn more on our website at greatergoodgreenville.org. This is a production of the Greenville Podcast Company.
Image via Greenville County Rec.
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