Alternative Adventures

By George DeTellis

At our summer day camp for children ages 5 to 12, we have had great success with inflatable water slides and obstacle courses to increase program activities without spending big money on new facilities. The 30-foot double-lane water slide cost less than $3,000 while the obstacle course cost less than $4,000. For a summer camp program for young children, these inflatable water slides and challenge courses are a big hit. Children in this age group will play on these structures for weeks without getting bored--even during the second and third year of use.


Aside from the cost, another major benefit is that lifeguard and other specialized staff members are not needed. And maintenance is minimal. At the end of the year, they are given a quick scrub with a bristle brush mop and before they are packed up for the winter. The water slide fits on a pallet folded up and is stored indoors for the winter. In the spring, it is unrolled and our programming is back in business.

During the summer months, the water slide is pinned down to the side of a steep hill. Whenever we want to use this equipment for a daily activity, we simply flick a switch on the blower and turn on the water hose. Overhead misting hoses provide the water to lubricate the slide. And since the two types of vinyl used to construct the inflatables are designed to take a beating, there is no need to worry about holes or patchwork. The superstructure is made with baffles that blow up into the shape of the structure while the slide surface is extra slick. The white slide material is attached to the thicker, heavier vinyl superstructure with Velcro stitching.

So forget about spending big bucks on an expensive construction project. Shop around and have a water slide or obstacle course built for your 2011 summer program.

George DeTellis is the executive director for Camp Woodhaven. He can be reached via e-mail at