Cultivating your child’s potential requires a major commitment, and when it’s time to take the big plunge there’s a lot to consider:  Cost, location, size, public vs. private,  social life, student body . . . It isn’t easy deciding which pool to join.   It’s especially challenging in a town like Chatham that has more pool clubs than swimmers. 

For the budget conscious, there’s the small community town pool affectionately called “The Puddle,” where $100.00 buys you a membership, versus the country club, where it buys you a hot dog.  “The Puddle” is adjacent to the town library, which is so close to the pool that the librarian carries an umbrella and wears a Speedo to work.  The pool is surrounded by a chain link fence and concrete courtyard, which some find charming in a federal prison kind of way.  

Sign Up for E-News

Others hold out for the reasonably priced private pool and tennis club called Minisink, notorious for its long waiting list.  Minisink, herein referred to as Minidrama (as in: Why am I still on the $%#@ wait list after 36 years when the Smiths got in after 16?!) boasts two big pools plus a baby pool.  By the time you get in, however, your baby girl has gone through puberty, bypassed the swim diaper stage and joined the teen string bikini brigade whose bathing suits provide less coverage than two tortilla chips and a bottle cap.

Conveniently situated near a major highway in a bucolic setting with woods and natural streams, Minidrama offers both convenient access to Route 124 and a myriad of wildlife, namely swarms of mosquitoes that leave festering bites and, if you’re lucky, only a mild case of west Nile disease.

Minidrama’s affordability means not having to take out a second mortgage on your house as you might have to at other clubs such as Noe Pond, aka Newly Pawned (as in, I had to pawn Grandma Bessie’s ruby broach to pay the membership fee). 

Then there’s Fairmont Country Club, herein referred to as Unfairmont Country Club, where membership is by “invitation only” and you need friends in high places to get in.   If you make it through the Federal Grant-like application process, you get “posted,” which means your name goes up for questions, jibes and objections until “they” decide your fate.   If you finally make the cut but you’re late paying the bill, you’re forced to suffer either humiliation by public listing of your name for all to see or, a stoning by martini olives.  

Some prefer the Lost Colony Pool, which, despite its name, is a pond.  It’s named for the colony of members unaccounted for since its inception.   Colony requires member participation in a safety drill best described as, “Peyton Place meets CSI:” Just as you’ve dozed off comfortably, you’re startled awake by a World War II air raid siren, followed by Joe from the snack bar’s bullhorn announcement: “All adults must enter the water immediately!  Hold hands to form a human chain!” 

The tranquil atmosphere erupts into mayhem as members frantically race to the pond for the drown-proofing exercise in which you’re forced to hold hands with “banana hammock” Fred who leers at you while he squeezes more than your hand.  Together, you tread the murky waters until finally, someone’s toe jams into the plastic dummy serving as a dead body.

If you pass the physical, emotional and mental challenges of Phase One, you move on to Phase Two, underwater knot tying at a 10-foot depth.  Passage of the test qualifies you to join both Colony and the Navy SEALS.

These are but a few of the options Chatham has to offer.   If you don’t find what you’re looking for you can always explore neighboring town pools.  If you still don’t find what you’re looking for, there’s always one last option---it’s got drama and it’s free:  the Jersey Shore.



When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother.  Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties.  Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist.  Her weekly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs---the good, the bad, and the ugly.   She lives in Chatham, New Jersey with her family. Follow her on twitter @lisatognola  Past articles can be found at