An excerpt from the article:
“Programmed for Success
In today’s market, it not only makes sense to partner with those who might specialize in a service to do it better, but it can give the aquatic director one less thing to worry about. For many pools, increasing revenue has had to mean more programming: more learn-to-swim classes, features that make them stand out from the ordinary like climbing walls or interactive technology components, appealing to new markets like adults, special needs and those needing physical therapy, being careful not to duplicate services, and partnering with other providers (health care services, high school programs, renting out to swim clubs and offering special events). Anything water-related combined with creative thinking can result in some pretty amazing programs. From fly-fishing lessons to paddle boarding, lazy-river running, to underwater pumpkin carving, anything that can bring in the people is worth trying. By creating a culture within your staff that supports creativity and by trusting the people you hire, it can result in some pretty amazing events, money-makers and life-changing ideas…
For some, the idea of sharing the load through a partnership can be a tough sell. But in today’s market, it not only makes sense to partner with those who might specialize in a service to do it better, but it can give the aquatic director one less thing to worry about.
“We tend to think we are the only ones who can do something and know best,” Gould said of his peers. “But give a little latitude and trust to some bright and creative people, and you can make some cool stuff happen. If there’s an opportunity in the aquatic world to find a partner who is willing to do most of what you do and willing to bear the burden of the cost, we should be open to having a conversation, at a minimum.”…
Creativity also is a key element to bringing in revenue. Special events, for example, while maybe not huge revenue-makers in and of themselves, are an effective way to create community awareness and good PR. They give people a reason to come to your pool. An underwater pumpkin carving contest has been an annual community favorite and photo-op for Santa Clarita, for example, while the Wacky Wednesdays cardboard boat regatta at the Elmhurst Park District aquatic center has given its residents some outrageous fun that makes them come back for more. And isn’t that really what it’s all about? …Continue to the full article
Keeping kids on their feet is second only to keeping them safe, right down to using hydraulics-based exercise equipment designed especially for children. “You don’t want children 12 and under lifting a lot of weights; it can interfere with growth and muscles,” Shaw advises.Once they do grow up, many return to where they first learned about getting (and staying) fit. “I’m always seeing members that I remember going through our Kid’s Club. They’ll leave for college and come back and pay for a summer membership, then a full-time membership once they graduate,” Shaw says.She sees the market to blend fitness with family entertainment as one with plenty of room for growth. “As busy as people are, they’re also increasingly concerned with health and fitness. They want to invest in themselves, and if they can invest in their family’s health, even better,” she concludes… Read more
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Natural waterfronts across the nation are broadening their appeal with water-based family entertainment centers, or WBFECs—a move that has not only added revenue, but also has helped enhance the communities surrounding these natural resources.
“Waterfront assets are often the most valuable areas of a property, and developing them into WBFECs is the best way for owners to leverage those assets,” said Ron Romens, president of Commercial Recreation Specialists (CRS), a company that specializes in waterfront development and pioneered the WBFEC concept. “A combination of inflatable water-based play, beachfront seating and shade provides an immediate ‘wow’ factor and also offers the greatest dividends for the fewest dollars.”
These WBFECs are the latest trend for small- to medium-sized waterfronts and municipal recreation areas that may have lost some of their appeal to nearby waterparks or other more exciting competition for family time. The goal of a WBFEC is to create a destination that is both fun and comfortable for the whole family, while staying within the owners’ budget constraints.
Colorful modular inflatables and other highly visible amenities are the main attractions at these facilities, and, in turn, they feed other revenue-bearing amenities such as boat rentals and concessions. As a result, waterfronts that had lost their appeal become important assets once again.
Troll Beach in Stoughton, Wis., is a prime example of such revitalization. This small-town community won the 2012 Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association (WPRA) Outstanding Aquatics Facility Design Award for its transformed natural beach.
Just a few years ago, Stoughton’s swimming pond was a declining “mud hole,” as area locals affectionately named it. Competition from large regional waterparks left little interest for what was once the community’s prized aquatic recreation facility. An inflatable challenge course, set up for a free community fun day, changed all of that.
“The people just loved it,” said Tom Lynch, recreational director for the city of Stoughton. “We were able to see what this would be like if we purchased the inflatables. We used this to help us pass our budget.”
Park officials also added other amenities, including shade structures, lounges and a concession stand, making Troll Beach an appealing destination for locals and out-of-towners alike.
“Within one summer, we doubled our attendance and quadrupled our revenues,” Lynch said.
At Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Eufaula, Okla., a WBFEC targets families with children up to 13 years old. In 2009, this Jellystone purchased its first CRS inflatable, the Aquaglide Summit Express. It proved to be so popular that new pieces have been added every year since.
“We initially thought about adding a waterpark,” said Al Sahli, owner of the campground. “But since we have shoreline on Lake Eufaula, which is the largest in Oklahoma, we decided to emphasize that.”
As much as people enjoy the natural elements of sand and water, Sahli believes they also are looking for more action. They enjoy the fun and excitement the water inflatables, boat rentals and other water activities provide.
“Our guests come back every year and expect to see new inflatable pieces,” Sahli said. “Since we started our business in 2008, we’ve actually doubles our attendance. Last summer we had 25,000 guests.” ……click here to continue reading.
The nonprofit established by the founder of the Rennebohm Drug Store chain has committed $50,000 to construct modern, eco-friendly water parks at Reindahl Park on the east side and Elver Park on the west side.
The city of Madison has committed to 85 percent of the $2 million project but is seeking private donations to cover the remaining $300,000. Private fundraising is being handled through the Madison Parks Foundation.
“We’re thrilled by the generosity of the Oscar Rennebohm Foundation, which continues to leave a legacy of philanthropy throughout Madison,” Stephanie Franklin, executive director of the Madison Parks Foundation, said in a statement. “As longtime community stewards, they identify with the need to provide safe, healthy and fun opportunities for kids and families across the city.”
In addition to the Rennebohm donation, the Parks Foundation has commitments of $50,000 from the Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of The Capital Times; $10,000 from American Family Insurance and $50,000 from the Madison Community Foundation.
Construction is slated for this spring, with the two splash parks scheduled to open in August. They will both feature interactive water attractions with spray toys and fountains. City officials are estimating some 15,000 visitors to the new facilities annually.
“Splash parks are a wonderful complement to our public beaches and Goodman Pool,” says Kevin Briski, city of Madison Parks Superintendent, in a statement.
Reindahl Park is located at 1818 Portage Road, just off of East Washington Avenue. It features a major soccer complex, community gardens and tennis courts. The splash park is among several new improvements planned there by the city including athletic facility enhancements and new shelter landscaping.
Elver Park on the southwest side at 1250 McKenna Blvd. is the largest park in Madison and features a playground, softball and soccer fields, and a disc golf course in the summer and sledding, lighted cross-country skiing and ice skating in the winter.
The city previously built a smaller splash park at Cypress Park on the south side.
Schools Business Administrator Christopher Tully said installation of the early warning system will begin Saturday, weather permitting.
A transmitter will be installed at Bergenfield High School. Sirens will be there, as well as Hoover School, Roy W. Brown Middle School, Cooper’s Pond, Hickey Field, the PAL complex, Ross Applegate Park and Veterans Memorial Park.
The total cost of the system is $56,220, but the borough and school board are splitting the expense.
According to a proposal by Wisconsin-based Commercial Recreation Specialists, which sells the equipment manufactured by Arizona-based Wxline, the system detects lightning strikes up to 20 miles away.
The system, branded with the name “Strike Guard,” is better than first-generation lightning sensors, the proposal claims.
Both cloud lightning and cloud-to-ground lightning may be monitored, while patented technology prevents false alarms.
The proposal states, ” ‘Strike Guard’ enables automated initiation of lightning evacuation plans, data backup, generator activation and equipment shutdown procedures with utmost confidence.”
New Milford officials last year teamed with the Borough of River Edge, as well as the River Edge K-6 district, to install the same lightning detection equipment at parks and schools.
In neighboring Dumont, which has been outfitted with a system for some time, officials last year considered an amended ordinance that would have created a policy for vacating outdoor recreation facilities, such as the swim club, in case of lightning. The proposed law included fines for violators.
It passed on first reading in August, but wasn’t adopted.
If you have water, you have an amenity that can be transformed into a huge attraction. From small-scale projects at campgrounds to large-scale city parks and riverwalk projects, municipalities of all sizes are taking a serious look at how to get the most out of their natural assets, finding ways to re-imagine those spaces and even profit from it.
Although each project is unique, almost all of them begin with an un-utilized or under-utilized facility, either a pool or waterfront.
“The first step is to clearly understand the specific goals of the project,” explained Peter Arpag, a brand manager for a manufacturer of inflatables, headquartered in Durham, N.C. “It pays to do preliminary research to fully understand any limitations, regulations and restrictions for the project. This could range from facility limitations such as water depth to regulatory needs like permits for waterfront moorage.”
Inflate Your Water
Waterfront aqua parks featuring inflatables, docks and more may require permits at the municipal, state or even federal level depending on the site. Sometimes these permits are easy to get, while at other times permitting can be a long, slow process. Typically, the process is aided by having respect for potential environmental impacts and a desire to find good multi-use solutions.
Many parks and recreation departments have under-used pool facilities whose funding is in jeopardy. In this situation, spending more money can be a difficult step. One of the advantages of installing an aqua park system using inflatables is that the cost is relatively low compared to fixed waterslides and other amenities, while the attraction factor is quite high. This is a great advantage when it comes to budgetary constraints, because it’s easy to show a strong return on investment, Arpag said.
Besides the relatively low cost and a strong ROI, many parks appreciate the flexibility of inflatable aqua parks. Having the ability to strategically re-task a part of the facility to increase traffic during key hours without the full commitment of a permanent structure is one of the more important aspects of a system. In some cases, it can take about 30 minutes to convert three swim lanes into an open-swim area that will excite and engage 30 or more participants. Once open-swim is over, the space can be easily re-tasked for lap swimmers.
Published in Playground Magazine- May, 2013 – Click here to view original article
See photos of our Puerto Rico Salvation Army install in the Playground Portfolio.
When officials from The Salvation Army Eastern Territory decided to upgrade the playground equipment at eight of their youth camp properties and one large community worship center in Puerto Rico, they knew they needed to work with a company that understood the importance of safety, as well as the importance of play. “Our first priority is the safety of the children in our care so it was critical that the new play equipment meet our high standards in that area but we also wanted to put a strong emphasis on fun,” says Robert Jones, Assistant Risk Manager for the Eastern Territory. “We wanted the new playgrounds to be something different – we wanted to give the kids something that would really wow them.”
With these priorities in mind, Jones contacted Commercial Recreation Specialists (CRS) of Verona, Wis., a provider of Xccent Play, a line of play equipment that specializes in promoting active, non-scripted play. Their revolutionary, moving equipment with ultra-safe polymer hinges is like a kid magnet, attracting kids of all ages and abilities to play and work together. Their many independent pieces are combinable and allow for flexibility in layout to accommodate different age groups. These features were important to The Salvation Army. Each year thousands of children enjoy its summer camp programs and the playgrounds get a lot of use. “We may have up to a hundred kids playing at any one time,” says Jones. “It’s also important that the playground equipment caters to a broad age range—anywhere from 7 to 14 years old.”
To accommodate this diversity, CRS installed in each of the ten playgrounds a combination of Xccent’s Triax curved, three-post deck systems, which included fun slides, challenging climbers and intriguing rooftops. They also installed independent pieces such as the X-Wave 2, an innovative see-saw that attracts groups of children to “ride the wave,” or the Rock N’ Rider, a momentum-building, muscle-testing, boat-like rocker. Camp Swoneky, in Oregonia, Ohio, added additional play elements from Playland and SportsPlay to their order, as well as waterfront pieces to enhance their lake recreation experience. Because the youth camps are summer-oriented, timely installation of the playgrounds was another crucial factor. Knowing they had “a lot to do, in not a lot of time,” CRS Principal Rich Wills dedicated the project to meeting its June 15 deadline. “We had worked with CRS in the past and had confidence in them,” says Jones. “They came through, as usual. They coordinated the removal of the old equipment, helped us select our new playground pieces, and then installed them. They did this for ten playgrounds in two months’ time.”
So how do the children like the new playgrounds?
“They definitely had the ‘wow’ factor,” says Jones. “The kids love them. We had an unbelievably positive response.”
Contact us or call toll-free 877-896-8442 to discuss planning your next playground project!