The Evolution of the Business in the Aquatics Industry: Spray Parks

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As a parent one of the things I’m always looking for is fun outdoor activities for the kids. This does come with some caveats such as not having their legs get burned on slides, not getting splinters on outdoor play lands, not scraping their knees on deteriorated concrete around the playground – you know, all the lessons we learned growing up. The great part is that many of the newly build and newly renovated playground developers learned these same lessons and are building structures that work to prevent these issues. Equal to that the new wave of dry-land play structures local park districts are investing in spray parks.

This is drastically much cheaper then redoing outdoor concrete pools that myself and parents grew up swimming in at the local park. This is also safer because there is almost no measurable drowning risk in splash pad park. (I know that with any water there is a risk, but in perspective of a legit pool, it’s much safer). Equal to the improvement in safety, anyone that can walk can have fun in a splash park/pad area. I have seen many of these with soft padded flooring, bumper pads on the spray features themselves and even timers to safe water. These are popping up in the most rural of areas and big cities alike (see downtown Cincinnati for a really fun splash park). Many of these have covered awnings for picnics, decently updated bathrooms, and lighting for evening play.

Granted, this is a summer activity, but when I was growing up it was either swim in the freezing cold local pool or burn your rear-end on a sun-soaked metal slide – neither were that appealing. But now, once again, many families I know locally and nationally are gathering together – hosting their kids birthday parties outside in the these once abandoned and rusty out door parks and rec’s areas. In my opinion the cities should have someone managing these areas and even creating safety events, local gatherings, even adult activities – and possibly charge a small fee. I know the team I manage would love to have a good ole’ fashion water balloon battle a local spray pad. 

About the Author

Wesley King is the Vice President of Celts Sustainable Aquatics, Chicago’s largest full scale aquatic management company. Wesley has over 20 years of aquatic and recreational leadership experience. He has developed multiple award winning programs and presented over a dozen national seminars for organizations such as the Medical Fitness Association, Club Industry, several healthcare organizations. He has chaired the national Medical Fitness Association education committee, is a lead examiner, and has earned his Fellowship with MFA. Wesley also and has his own consulting business. He has become well known for his innovation in aquatic programming, risk management, and quality staff training. 

Wesley has provided support and leadership a wide variety of organizations such as YMCA, JCCs and American Red Cross. He was the winner of Aquatics International 2015 “Program of the Year” and recently authored “An Aquatic Operations Management Manual” which is being published by MFA Best Practice Partner, Healthy Learning. Wes was also featured in Recreation management magazine with the “Last Word” feature story. Wes has certified over 3,000 lifeguards, lead over 500 in-service safety trainings, and developed several “best in class” revenue generating programs /risk management review processes.

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