family · fitness

In search of at-home watery summer outdoor fun

It is officially summer now. The solstice was yesterday, Saturday June 20. We’re having a hot spell in the Northeast, which means I just installed my bedroom air conditioner unit more than a week ahead of my usual schedule (I always shoot for July 1 for no particular reason).

Today, I was taking a break from an online bioethics conference (which involves sitting at my computer looking at an endless– if very interesting– list of powerpoint presentations with audio). The break was the perfect antidote to sitting: hauling plastic chairs and stools downstairs to the driveway to soap, scrub and hose them off, in preparation for spruce-up spray painting.

As I said, it’s hot hot hot outside. I had a garden hose in my hand, multiple spray settings at the ready. It didn’t take long to put two and two together. Dual results: clean plastic outdoor furniture and a soaking wet, refreshed, happy Catherine.

This reminded me of how much fun I had as a child in my yard with garden hoses, sprinklers, kiddie pools, and a Slip ‘n Slide. I think my original one looked a bit like this:

Vintage Slip 'n Slide box, with  drawings of white kids sliding on a wet piece of plastic on grass.
Vintage Slip ‘n Slide box, with illustrated kids sliding on a wet piece of plastic on grass, and more people waiting for their turn.

Apparently they’re not designed for adults. Bummer. Look here for ominous tales about Slip ‘n’ Slide hazards.

When I got back inside, dried off, changed clothes, and sat down at my computer, I took a minor detour from bioethics talks, and searched for water-delivery-system fun toys or contraptions for local summer fun. It turns out there’s little to nothing for grownups. Here are some of the things I checked out.

Backyard inflatable splash/spray pads:

68"/1.72 meter round inflatable spray pad, with family of four totally photoshopped to make it look like they all fit in it.
68″/1.72 meter round inflatable spray pad, with family of four totally photoshopped in to make it look like they all fit in it, which they don’t.

Novelty backyard sprinklers for kids:

Backyard sprinkler with both 1) kids totally photoshopped into it; and 2) the water spritzing photoshopped, too, as loads of reviewers said it hardly worked at all.
Backyard sprinkler with 1) two kids poorly photoshopped in; 2) fake-looking grass; and 3) water spritzing photoshopped, too, as many reviewers said it hardly worked at all.

Kiddie wading pools, of which there are many variations:

Note: I searched and looked at a lot of pool-related products, and not one of them had pictures with black kids or black families. Not one. Perhaps such photos are out there, but they are not used for advertising any of the hundreds of products I perused.

If you have a bigger space or grander wet and wild ambitions, here’s something for you:

16'x30' (4.8x9.1 meter) inflatable waterslide/pool. Now that's what I'm talking about.
16’x30′ (4.8×9.1 meter) inflatable waterslide/pool. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

This baby weighs 375 lbs (170kg) costs $USD 275/day to rent. It also requires a large area for maximum frolicking fun, either wet or dry.

Sadly, none of these options were what I had in mind. I live in a three-family house that’s been condo-ized, and I’m the second floor owner. We share a backyard, but in reality I never use it. I do use my back porch a lot, but even a small wading pool seems like a very bad idea.

Here’s a promising idea: maybe I could have something like this for refreshing water dunking from time to time.

But what if it’s just me, in need of outside cool-water immersion? Yes, I could hang a solar camp shower bag on my porch and get a cool water shower outside (you can tell I’ve really been avoiding those conference presentations today), but where’s the wild and giddy fun in that? Sigh.

So readers, you heard it here, maybe first: I think there’s a marketing opportunity here: fun water toys for 1) adults; and 2) anyone who lives with minimal outside space, like a porch, deck or balcony. Any thoughts? Product ideas? Recommendations for items I’ve missed? I’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “In search of at-home watery summer outdoor fun

  1. We have a general purpose bucket big enough for foot soaking that is great for reading. In combination with two water shooter toys we can make a more active good time. If I need a fuller body immersion I’m thinking my plastic wheelbarrow might do the trick. Also found some diy ideas for turning a pool noodle into a sprinkler that I might try.

  2. We need misters like they have in Las Vegas.

    My kids had a giant blow up water slide when they were younger. It was fun for a few years…even I slid down it a few times. Worth every penny.

    I think it’s funny how clean everything looks in the pictures. The truth is kiddie pools end up full of grass etc.

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