Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cummins Park Splash Pad

What a great day to explore splash pads! We were supposed to meet a few people in Elkhart at the NIBCO Splash Pad; however, we go there and it was closed. A couple of others drove or walked up at the same time and mentioned it's never open when they get there. There are several openings for water to splash up in the small area. To clarify, the hours at the Nibco Splash Pad are 2-6pm Tuesday through Sunday.

So, we checked in on the new Splash Pad at Cummins Park in Bristol as we were headed in that direction anyway. We've seen pictures posted, yet hadn't checked it out yet. Cummins Park is located behind the Elkhart County Historical Museum in Bristol. While it is a small splash area, the kids and I really liked it. I think doing a quick tour of the museum first, and then changing clothes in the car to use the splash pad would be a good itinerary.

There are tennis courts near the splash area. I noticed that many kids liked running around in circles there after they had been in the water for a bit. It's nice to have a big open space. A friend mentioned it's also a good place for bikes. I know for many moms the enclosed area is a good place to keep active children contained. There are also open areas outside of the tennis courts and splash pad that could be used for recreational games. 

There is also a small historical cemetery on the grounds. 

Someone made a recent visit. :-) 

There is also a shelter not too far from the Splash Pad. While I didn't see anything about renting the shelter on Bristol's website, a friend and I mentioned this would be a good place for a family friendly party with a built in water feature nearby. 

There is a small wooded area that goes down to the river for exploration. During my Indiana Master Naturalist training, we discussed the possibilities of this land and how to make it more nature friendly. More native plants near the Splash Pad might be a good option. We saw shelf fungus on the trees and talked about the bat boxes outside of the building that evening as well. Today, I heard distinct birds frequently calling.  

The boys loved playing with the water! There are a few unique features here that were not available at the first park we tried. There are a couple of buckets that fill up with water and then drop it all at one time. The boys really enjoyed waiting under here for the water to dump! There are also a couple of tall flowers that continually spray water--this allows a constant trickle of water from above. There is also a a water spray gun that swivels around. Water also comes up from the ground in different water spots. 


A few tips . . . 
  • We didn't find the restrooms while we were there; however, someone told me later there are port-a-potties on the other side of the tennis courts. Not too close to the splash pad, but good to know there are some available.
  • There are several benches available; however, I also saw many people with their own chairs. I often leave one or two in the back of the Swaggerwagon to take out as needed. 
  • The floor of the splash pad can be slippery. The sign with rules recommends wearing footwear, but none of the kids I saw were wearing any. My son slipped and hit his head on the ground, meaning other moms actually heard the "thunk" and told me about it. I gave him a big wet hug and he went back to play promptly. So, he's okay, but this is just something to be aware of. Encouraging walking instead of running is probably in order. 
  • From what I understand, the hours are 9am-9pm and the season is Memorial Day to Labor Day. There is a button on the ground near the sidewalk to push if the water is not on.
  • I usually put on sunscreen (though I love to use the swim shirts for the boys--think they're by the lake!) at the van so I don't have to take it to the play area. I also leave the towels there--less to get wet while we're out. I often leave a bag with summer fun supplies (swim trunks, extra socks, a couple of towels, sunscreen, insect repellant, hats (for me, too!), snacks, etc.) in the van and/or ready to go on adventures. I also have reusable water bottles for myself and the kids and then carry a larger jug filled with water to refill our bottles. 

I love how these brothers play together, exploring the properties of water! I also love that this will be so close for our family!

A neat thing to note, nature related, of course! On the back of the Elkhart County Historical Museum, there are several bat boxes. These are in an open area and close to water, just like bats like them. I'm sure coming out at dusk  to watch the bats might be a great time. 

What tips do you have for visiting the splash pads in your area? Which splash areas in the Michiana area do you like best?