3 Ideas for Summer Water Play if You Don’t Have a Pool

If your parks and rec department or YMCA has a pool or lake, you’re lucky! But if not, try one of these creative solutions to stay cool as temperatures soar.
min read

It’s finally August, and that means it’s likely HOT! If you’re lucky, your organization or department has a pool or a lake. If you’re not so lucky, you have to be more creative. Either way, you’re probably asking how you can keep community members or camp participants cool when temperatures soar? Try these three creative ideas with a minimal budget and minimal setup time.

Paint the Playground

Educator Susie Allison from BusyToddler.com frequently shares how much fun little kids have painting their outdoor play equipment (like a Little Tikes playhouse or slide). Take this idea up a notch by letting bigger kids paint the playground!

Fill a bunch of containers (reused yogurt containers are great!) with washable paint and brushes. Each kid can grab a container and get busy painting the playground. Once the playground is painted, take some pictures of kids in front of their creation.  

Then the water play comes in: Bring out the hose, some buckets, a little bit of dish soap, and rags, sponges, or scrubbing brushes, and let the kids have fun by washing off the paint…and themselves!

Before starting: Use washable tempera paints and test on a tiny area of the play equipment first. If it washes off easily, you’re good to go!  

Sprinkler Dance Party

The simple solution to any hot day is to add a sprinkler! For example, you could play kickball or softball, and put sprinklers in between the bases. You could even play a simple game of freeze tag and have a few sprinklers going.

But our favorite version of this occurred one extremely hot Wednesday night at YMCA Camp Al-Gon-Quian. It was a camp tradition to have an all-camp dance every Wednesday night, but it was way too hot to have the dance inside the recreation hall. The counselors moved the party outside to the basketball courts, but it was still too hot! So, they added a sprinkler.

However, it wasn’t just a sprinkler in the middle of the basketball court. They got a ladder and ran it up to the top of the hoop, letting water rain down on the dancers. It was an epic dance! The modification of the sprinkler raining down from above took this camp activity to the next level.

Water Obstacle Course

This activity takes a little more planning but not a lot of budget because you can likely use items you already have. Just create a simple obstacle course, but make most of the elements water-related.

Here’s an example of how it could go:

  • Start by crab walking through a kiddie pool
  • Barrel roll across a tarp covered in water or slime
  • Hopscotch through “lily pads” (pie tins full of water)
  • Limbo underneath a hose stream (instead of a limbo stick)
  • Dump a cup of water on your head

You get the picture... Use what you have, and add simple water elements for each “obstacle.” Suddenly, a standard course becomes an easy water activity!

Try Something Easy

No time to set up something complicated? Lifeguards suddenly call in sick, and you can’t go in the pool? Don’t overthink it!

Here are a few ways you can incorporate water play into your camp program on the fly:

  • Play hot potato with a soaking wet stuffed animal
  • Play musical chairs using spots on the grass and a sprinkler in the middle (be careful not to slip!)
  • Play water trivia by having people take turns jumping through a sprinkler with each guess
  • Play tag, but instead of traditionally tagging someone, spray them with a water shooter or spray bottle
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

See how ACTIVE can help your organization grow.
Schedule a DemoSchedule a DemoSchedule a Demo
More from the blog
View all
Never miss a minute.
Learn about best practices, community stories, product updates, and more.
We will never share your email address with third parties.