One Door Closes

Even at 9 a.m., the heat was stifling. As the boys stretched and jogged, sweat soaked their hat bands and dripped down their faces, streaking their cheeks with the tell-tale sign of baseball in July.

As they worked through their routine, squeals of joy came from a five-year-old boy who had activated the water features on the nearby spray park. As water filled the large bucket and, predictably, was dumped onto the boy’s head, he yelped again.

Returning attention to the ball diamond, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for my boys. Not only were they working hard in the heat, but they were continually being distracted by the escalating noise of nearby preschoolers and parents (predominantly moms with picnic baskets, books, cell phones and friends) who took up residence on brightly colored towels ringing the spray park’s features.

Of course, I didn’t feel sorry enough to stop practice, so we continued.

When we wrapped up early to give the kids a break from the heat, I was amazed at the sheer size of the crowd now hanging out on the grassy area.

It reminded me of a good old-fashioned block party. Everybody seemed to know everybody and, if they didn’t, they all seemed to get along.

As the boys packed up the equipment, I noticed how the young kids came and went, creating a type of circular path between the water features, regular playground, baseball diamonds, large grassy area and back to the water features. What really struck me was how safe the moms and dads seemed to feel.

Very rarely did I see a parent get up from the group she or he was talking to and follow their kid around. Instead, they actually seemed to relax and enjoy themselves--almost as much as the kids.

As a father of five, I can tell you I have never felt relaxed at a pool with my family. If anything, I find myself on hyper-alert--constantly scanning the pool area, counting the number of Auths bobbing away.

As it turns out, I shouldn’t have been surprised.

The word is out on spray parks--they’re safe, easy on the budget and popular, which means they can be an attractive alternative or complement to your current aquatic offerings.

If you’re interested in adding one to your facility, or are looking for tips to make a current park more efficient, this issue will point you in the right direction. If you’re not, we have plenty of other helpful tidbits on topics as varied as restrooms, training, leadership and more. Enjoy!

Till next month,

Rodney J. Auth