A Different Kind of Water Park

Last summer, in my quest to find outdoor adventures every weekend, Cameron and I went “playgrounding” a lot. The idea was to find playgrounds we’d never been to, and to find the coolest ones around Vancouver.

Let me tell you, there’s NOTHING in Vancouver like the playground at Ottawa’s Andrew Hayden Park. It’s one of those things that makes you just stare and go, “How cool,” and “Who is the genius who came up with this?”

This water playground is different from your typical splash pad spray-filled water parks. It’s a playground, just as you’d think one should be. Slides, climbing stuff, and such. But this one has water too. There’s a slide that they’ve rigged up with water spraying down, so the kids can get doused and wet, with some slip-sliding fun. But then there are two water structures. Water pours out of a tap, working a water wheel in one, then flowing through wide troughs that are rigged with moveable dams to change where the water goes. In the other, it’s a maze of narrow troughs, starting way up high, with a wheel to direct water flow, a tipping trough to make it so water goes one way or the other, and other fun things. Better yet, these are climbable structures. In fact, to really get into it and play with the water, a kid has to climb.

Cameron had a blast. The slide and more typical playground areas he mostly treated as old-hat. He loved the puddles and sand. But he also got into climbing way up, teetering around, and experimenting with which way the water would go. What happens if you do this? Or that?

Dad and I just sat back and let him go at it. No parental direction here whatsoever. Figure it out, kid!

Outside, free play, sensory fun, cause and effect, having to cooperate with other kids who had other ideas … I love it.

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