Recreation Becomes A Career And Passion For Val Gotelaer

Val Gotelaer is ready to dive into a career in sports and recreation.

For years, through CKRecreation in Chatham-Kent, she taught kids how to dive into local pools, and to get active. This experience of teaching swimming lessons, and working with CKRec, was what helped guide Gotelaer along her current path, helping her find her passion.

“CKRec really guided me into the direction that I wanted to take my career,” said Gotelaer, who first starting working for the Municipality at age 15 with the Junior Recreation Staff.

“That position built the foundation for my career choice and choosing to go to school in hopes to continue my career in Recreation in some aspect.”

Gotelaer also worked as a Camp Leader, Lifeguard, and Pool Supervisor with CKRec. In particular, she feels her role as a lifeguard taught invaluable lessons, not just in the pool, but in life.

“Lifeguarding is a job that teaches you the importance of understanding your duties and the consequences that can come if you are negligent. Lifeguarding is much more than your average summer job; it is an important position that develops key assets you can carry to any career. CKRec supported my growth in the early stages of my career and helped develop myself as a young professional.”

For most parents, they could only dream of having their child find a passion, and a lifelong pursuit, through a summer job. CKRecreation provided that opportunity for Gotelaer, who continued her education at Lambton College in the Sports and Recreation Management Program, and the University of Windsor earning a Bachelor of Human Kinetics with a Sport Management Major.

A Ridgetown product, and former Kent Fillies hockey player, Gotelaer learned more than a love for recreation through her time working with the CKRec, she learned professional skills that have helped her at every step of her career journey into the sports and recreation world.

“CKRec takes a professional approach when hiring, training, and continuing to educate their employees. Being exposed to a professional organization from a young age has helped me understand what to expect in my career. CKRec employees are held to a high standard and experiencing that was crucial for my professional development.”

With an ever competitive job market, including for those who dream to work in sports or recreation, Gotelaer got the leg up through the invaluable experience gained with CKRec.

Gotelaer believes in the organization not only as an employer, and career development tool, but also as a wonderful place for youth to get physically active, meet friends, and have fun at camps, lessons, and other programming.

“CKRec programming provides incredible life-changing experiences for the youth of the Chatham-Kent community. All programming by CKRec is inclusive, welcoming, and a ton of fun. Children can find a sense of community in the programming they are involved with, whether it is scheduled or drop in style. Usually by the end of the summer, lifeguards at the pools know many of the patrons by their name and have created long lasting memories throughout their time at the pools. When I was younger, going to the local pool and seeing all my favourite lifeguards would often be the highlight of my day. Being involved in CKRec programming exposes the children of CK to some of the communities’ greatest young leaders and role models.”

For athletes in particular, the opportunities to develop greater physical literacy, and teamwork skills through Chatham-Kent’s recreational programs, is invaluable.

“Being active and being involved in sports challenges and develops you physically and mentally. Improving both aspects in your life can have great benefits. Physically, no matter your age it is important to be active. Whether you’re learning a new fundamental skill at a young age or maintaining an important daily movement like balance, improving your physical health will allow for a more enjoyable day to day life,” exaplained Gotelaer.

“You may be challenged to be a better teammate, to be disciplined, to communicate, learn to trust, the list could continue to go on. All of these skills that can be learned in sports and recreation can be directly related back to your personal life and help you to become a better individual for yourself and those around you. Sports and recreation involvement builds better individuals to create a better community around us.”

What started as a simple summer job for Val Gotelaer, turned into a lifelong passion and career. With Chatham-Kent’s active community of youth and athletes, it begs the question, who will be next to find their career path and passion through CKRec?

To learn more about job opportunities with CKRec, or to register for their programming, visit

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