As summer heats up and the kids begin to whine "I'm bored," more families are heading to their local amusement park. With many parents wary of spending big bucks on a weeks-long vacation, a day at the park can be a relatively affordable mini-getaway. That should be good news for Six Flags ( SIXF), which operates 20 amusement parks around the country. Indeed, the company is seeing strong attendance at its properties. But that traffic hasn't been enough to ensure its long-term health. Last month, Six Flags declared bankruptcy, saying it was unable to meet debt obligations taken on years before. When times are tough, it's tempting to hide behind bland, reassuring statements -- or to say nothing as bad news trickles from one office to the next. Instead, Chief Executive Officer Mark Shapiro has been remarkably open with his employees, keeping them in the loop and asking them to help rehabilitate the company's image. Treating the people who work for you as partners makes sense regardless of the economic climate. But their goodwill is especially crucial when your business is challenged. If you can convince them you're on the right track, they can be your most powerful marketing tool. During the 2008 season, Six Flags brought in $1 billion in revenue and saw record attendance. But the company is haunted by the ghost of spending past. From the late 1990s through 2005, it built up $2.4 billion in debt, as it bought up smaller, independent parks and went on a roller-coaster building spree. The interest on all that debt, and the company's inability to refinance it, simply became unsustainable.