48 Responses to Gee, What a Fun Park!

  1. Jacqui September 25, 2009 at 6:49 am #

    Sounds like I’m gonna go play in the empty lot, where there are no rules.

  2. Kali September 25, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    ….WTFT!!! (What the french toast!!!)

  3. Drew September 25, 2009 at 7:02 am #

    For your safety and enjoyment, no . . . enjoyment. : )

  4. gramomster September 25, 2009 at 7:03 am #

    Oh yeah… that’s where I wanna go next summer! Again appreciating where I live! Kids do ride bikes, and skateboards, and go wandering about, no parents in sight, usually by 8, some sooner, some later.
    Our beachy park? With cool splashpad? Open 10-8 Memorial Day – Labor Day, all floaties welcome, splash! Play! Throw your kids, if you can pick ’em up! Just make sure, if you want a shower, to get into the restrooms by 7:30.
    Oh. And when it’s extra hot, and light really late, they extend the hours. And, no lifeguards. Park employees at the concessions and splashpad, but nobody blowing whistles at you to stop the horseplay.
    Love my park.

  5. krystal September 25, 2009 at 8:48 am #

    I would sure hate for there to be any “horseplay” at a park. Isn’t that why you GO to the park? To let the kids play?

  6. Tameson O'Brien September 25, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    Actually, except the age of the unattended being 12 and not 16, those are the same rules at our town beach (park).

  7. mudmama September 25, 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Thank GOD we live in a place with unsupervised water holes, rivers, lakes, streams, resevoirs, dams…oh and the ocean!

    Snicker…at least they said SORRY!

  8. Renee September 25, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    Guess with no flotation device, there is no lazy river

  9. Alison Fairfield September 25, 2009 at 11:35 am #

    This “Unattended Children Under 16” business is my latest don’t-get-me-started gripe.

    Since when is 16 even near childhood? Biologically a 16-year-old *child* could bring her own children to the park (and do in my neighborhood.)

    Much to my dismay, 16 is the minimum age go unsupervised to the Houston Children’s Museum — which incidentally is only designed for kids up to age 12. You wouldn’t even go past that age. BTW, the same is true in Boston. I know, I know, the reason probably boils down to fear of lawsuits. But I still wrote to the Executive Director to complain, suggesting that I would love to see evidence that the Museum is dangerous to an unsupervised 11 or 12-year-old. Still waiting to hear back on that one…

  10. Casey September 25, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    I’m just glad that there will be no glass containers swimming after 6:00pm! I just hate fighting over my lane with a bottle!

  11. Matt September 25, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    Geez, and I thought this sign was sad:


  12. Kai September 25, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    “And, no lifeguards. Park employees at the concessions and splashpad, but nobody blowing whistles at you to stop the horseplay.”
    Hey – put the blame where blame rests. As a lifeguard, and supporter of playing and the law of circumstance, I’d love to let kids go wild.
    But these days, if a kid flings a toy at another kid in the pool, and kid two bleeds, whose fault is it? The kid? the kids collectively? The parents? Random chance? No – it’s mine. It’s always the lifeguards fault.
    And when liability comes into it, we have to ban going headfirst down the slide, and anything else that could possibly hurt a child, or our life is over when some kid gets hurt.
    I agree that it’s a pain to be in a hyper-safe world, but blame the litigious parents who don’t believe in their own responsibilties. That’s who killed the fun.

  13. Meagan September 25, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    @Alison ” I would love to see evidence that the Museum is dangerous to an unsupervised 11 or 12-year-old. Still waiting to hear back on that one…”

    I’m guessing this actually has more to do with the danger they think a 14 or 15 yr old might present to the museum. Not saying this is fair, but teens and preteens are constantly faced with suspicion: expected to steal or break stuff where ever they go.

  14. Nicola September 25, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    @Kai: Pretty much what I said from the outset on many things here. Blame rests with our society being so damned sue-happy over every little thing. I truthfully don’t know when we’ll see ourselves going back to being regular human beings… I swear, Wall-E had the future of human kind right.

  15. gramomster September 25, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    @ Kai

    Oh I know… my daughter was a lifeguard, and those were the issues she disliked about the job. Did it two years, then moved on to Greenpeace for a while.
    Not blaming the lifeguards at all. We spend huge amounts of time in the water in the summer here, both pools and the beach. The pools, yeah… no headfirst down the slide, no horsing around, no floaties, etc etc. And lots of concrete to crack one’s head on but good, and LOTS of people to observe. I couldn’t process info like that.
    So it’s just nice to go to the beach where it’s do-your-thing, and splash and yell and all that watery beachy stuff.
    Love the pools too, just for different type play, and I sure as all get-out want my kid in a pool to learn to swim. With plenty of lifeguards around.

  16. Karl September 25, 2009 at 2:57 pm #

    Where is this park? Be kind of nice to have the whole place to myself.

  17. ebohlman September 25, 2009 at 4:20 pm #

    My hometown’s parks used to have signs saying “No alcoholic beverages or dogs allowed.”

    Meagan: I suspect they’re simply trying to keep the museum from turning into a teenage hangout spot.

  18. Diana Martinez September 25, 2009 at 6:41 pm #

    No unattended children under SIXTEEN?? Are you freaking kidding me? I think the only thing that kept my mother sane when I was a kid was being able to say “Go play! Don’t come home until dark!”

  19. CLT September 25, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    Obviously there are a lot of problems here, but the one that bugged me the most was the early closing hours, because we have the same problem at our pool. In a month, I’ll have three kids under four. Taking them swimming without another adult (ie, my husband, who doesn’t get off work until five) is a difficult and not particularly safe endeavor. Plus, we’re all redheads who burn easily, so we prefer to swim a little later. We live in a very humid area, so it’s not like it cools down much ( or at all) by six. Usually, we just skip the pool and find a creek somewhere. Much more scope for the imagination, anyway.

  20. Michele in MD September 25, 2009 at 9:43 pm #

    They are in desperate need of new marketing folks. Sounds about as appealing and enticing as watching paint dry.

  21. BMS September 25, 2009 at 9:55 pm #

    In defense of some of the children’s museum rules, I used to work at a hands on science museum. Unsupervised 11-14 year olds in herds can do untold amounts of damage to exhibits. When they get in groups, they get wild, things get broken. I don’t think we ever worried about the safety of the kids, but we sure as heck got tired of fixing the computers and other hands on activities. So if you do let your kids loose in the museum, for the love of all that is holy teach them some manners first.

  22. Dragonwolf September 25, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    @charles — Is it just me, or does that seem to promote the idea that it’s okay to line-jump if one has ADHD? That just screams encouraging taking advantage of the system if one has a particular disorder (or has been diagnosed with it, since I don’t think all kids diagnosed with ADD/ADHD actually have it).

    @Lenore — Sadly, the pool rules like what you’ve posted are all too common (at least around here). The age and closing thing are a little much, though. Most sane people would close their pool somewhere between 9 and 11pm, and limit the unsupervised age to 12 or 14.

    The age thing basically boils down to the average age that a person can either a) swim well, or b) stand in the deep end. It comes down to (perceived?) risk of drowning, which I think is a reasonable concern to public pool owners. I find 16 to be a little much, but perhaps the pool’s deep end is 9+ feet? Their choice of age is a little harder to judge, since we don’t know anything else about the situation.

    The next question then becomes, do they actually enforce the floaty rules (or the age one, for that matter)? I know a number of apartment complex pools in my area have the “no floaties” rule on their boards, but no one actually enforces it. I think that rule stems more from a courtesy thing than a safety one (akin to the philosophy of not climbing up the slide side when other kids want to slide down, because it’s rude). Pools only have so much space, and on a hot day, you’ve got about a foot in each direction all around you to work with (if that). Having floating chairs and boat things just take up even more room. However, if they don’t proactively enforce that rule, they might not really care until someone actually complains about it.

  23. Ashley September 25, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    I grew up in an apartment complex that had similar rules. It was the Chicago burbs in the late 80s/early 90s. Pets, bikes, rollerskates, scooters, sledding, even EXPLICITLY “organized games” were disallowed as part of the lease. We weren’t allowed to play hide & seek!

    Of course we broke every single one of those rules, with my parents’ encouragement. I had tunnel networks in the plowed snow-hills (you know the pile of snow that winds up in the back of a parking lot?), smeared my face over concrete after falling off a bike, climbed trees, played tons of games in the pool, even ice skated and sledded on the manmade pond (ah, how I miss the days when the water actually froze). Also, we had a cat.

    In a lot of ways it was a great childhood, despite the damn rules 🙂

  24. Ashley September 25, 2009 at 10:10 pm #

    Wow, I wish we had that linejumping rule when I was a kid (ok, not really). The only thing that prevented an ADHD diagnosis was the fact that I was a straight-A student. Patience wasn’t easy for me, but shockingly I dealt!

    Personally, I think most instances of “ADHD” aren’t in fact a disorder, but normal human variation.

  25. pentamom September 25, 2009 at 10:28 pm #

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the under-16 rule is not to protect the 13-15 year olds, it’s to protect everyone else form having their fun spoiled by irresponsible and obnoxious 13-16 year olds. You haven’t experienced the meaning of “fun spoiled” until it’s been ruined in a place like that by rotten teenagers with no mechanism for getting rid of them.

    “Horseplay” in the context of a water park usually means ducking and other things that really could be dangerous, especially to kids who weren’t exactly choosing to play along.

    When it comes to water, it’s important to remember that a lot of things that aren’t a real hazard when you’re talking about four kids in a backyard pool become a real problem for a lifeguard to keep track of.

    “No water toys” is absolutely ridiculous, though.

  26. Dragonwolf September 25, 2009 at 11:03 pm #

    @pentamom — It’s been my experience that even “supervised” 13-16 year olds can be obnoxious and ruin other peoples’ fun.

    My complex has a hot tub in addition to the pool. They explicitly state that no one under 16 is allowed in it. Period. The problem is, it’s not really enforced, and so kids as young as 5 are nearly always in it, even though their parents are just 10 feet away.

    And in this day and age, heaven forbid you say something to them or their kids, else you get their backlash (even if you are in the right).

  27. Alison Fairfield September 25, 2009 at 11:05 pm #

    “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the under-16 rule is not to protect the 13 to 15-year-olds, it’s to protect everyone else form having their fun spoiled by irresponsible and obnoxious 13-16 year olds. You haven’t experienced the meaning of “fun spoiled” until it’s been ruined in a place like that by rotten teenagers with no mechanism for getting rid of them.”

    I copy this comment because it seems to apply to both pools and museums. When did booting-out individuals who may truly be wrecking things or endangering others stop being applied reasonably on a case-by-case basis?

    We are now such a preemptive strike society that all the nice 11 to 15 year olds (that we’re raising!) unfairly suffer.

    Specifically about childrens museums, I think that if it is designed for the 12 and under set, then there is cause to question why teenagers (unless they are there supervising someone 12 and under) are not disallowed. Although this may sound like a draconian preemptive action, in my experience, this would not affect that many teens.

    Before writing the Exec Dir I had a very disconcerting conversation with the wife of a board member who said, “I never leave my child there at 12! There’s a lot of people out there…” and you all reading this know where her thoughts were going.

  28. Karin September 25, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    The only thing missing from that list is “ya know what…why don’t you forget it and just go home”

  29. swa101 September 25, 2009 at 11:51 pm #

    The splash pad near my house has lifeguards standing in the water. The water comes up to my youngest’s chest. At first, I would sit by the side and keep an eye on the two youngest, figuring that the lifeguard was there to help them in the unlikely event they would need it and I would be there to keep them from going in to the big pool with their older sisters. I was wrong. I had to be in the water and they had to be beside me at all times. The lifeguard’s job was to tell me that they were too far from me and to tell them to stop the horseplay. It was fun. Really.

    No horseplay rules suck.

  30. Lilavati September 26, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    No floatation devices? Perhaps I’m not up to date on modern safety hazards, but isn’t the purpose of a “floatation device” to assist in floating, i.e. not drowning, which would make the place safer? Are they so concerned with safety that they are now banning safety devices for some Kafka-esque reason?

  31. Kimberly September 26, 2009 at 12:33 am #

    I worked in a children’s museum with a similar under 16 age rule. We needed a cut off age and the board and lawyers felt like if a group supervised by a 16 yo was being a pain we could kick them out. The assumption being a 16 yo in Texas was probably driving and could get themselves and their charges home. There was no public transport (remember Texas), and the location wasn’t really walkable from residential areas because of traffic patterns, distance and West Texas Heat.

    The thing with case by case decisions in public places is you get hit discrimination accusations and lawsuits.

  32. pentamom September 26, 2009 at 1:02 am #

    Flotation devices in swimming areas are considered a danger because they could be misused — a child who really can’t swim might be left unattended and get into trouble, the parent thinking the device is “safe,” for example. Also, people don’t properly make the distinction between a cheap little floatie toy and a real flotation device, and think that the toy is protecting the kid, when it isn’t, and then risks might be taken that should not be.

    None of this should really be a problem in a swimming pool or small swimming hole or lake, but in the ocean or here in the Great Lakes, it actually makes some sense. A kid in a real flotation device on Lake Erie might not sink, but he could be swept out pretty far and need to be rescued. And that just makes the lifeguard’s job harder.

    I’m not saying I 100% agree with these rules, but they’re not quite as utterly crazy as some might think. Except, in a swimming pool, they are.

    “The thing with case by case decisions in public places is you get hit discrimination accusations and lawsuits.”

    Precisely. Besides a kid who is badly misbehaving might put up a fuss about being sent away. After all, he’s not a kid who follows the rules! Then there’s another problem to deal with. Lifeguards are supposed to be watching the water and dealing with water safety, not handling all kinds of other issues.

    I’d hope there would be a better solution than prohibiting young teenagers from going to the park with their friends, but I can understand the issue from the POV of the people running the park.

    In a museum, it might be different. Other than the lawsuit issue, I do think letting them in but kicking them out if necessary might make more sense. The people dealing with it there aren’t supposed to have one eye on the water — keeping order in the place could more reasonably just be considered part of the job of running a public facility.

  33. Alison Fairfield September 26, 2009 at 2:09 am #

    @Kimberly –thanks for responding from an insider’s POV!

    So the assumption was that a 16-year-old wouldn’t really be there for her/himself as a thing-to-do after school? Interesting.

    Why couldn’t younger “rowdies” just have their parent or guardian contacted to picked them up? No kid likes that prospect.

    Here’s what I see gets lost. My fourth grader could easily enjoy and benefit from a two hour unsupervised venture through the museum, say with a friend. Does that seem just sooo “out there?”

    I wonder why there couldn’t be at least be a middle way for museum members (like we have been for 7 years) in which 11-15 year olds are allowed (free-range) jr. patron status? They could have their own color-coded daily sticker.

    (As an aside, my daughter is much more polite to adults other than mom most of the time! I think that learning good behavior doesn’t come from having a parent there to “make you apologize” or more often, as is the case, apologize for you.)

  34. Kimberly September 26, 2009 at 4:16 am #

    In our case we were located in a tourist attraction, and people wanted us to be drop off babysiters. On the liability side this was a small museum often staffed by 1 person. Without the parents there a good set up for someone looking to make accusations and get a pay out.

    Also the board had been warned that with a critical mass unaccompanied children the state could see us as a daycare instead of a museum. I’m not a lawyer, wasn’t at the the meeting but that is what my boss told me.

  35. Kimberly September 26, 2009 at 4:27 am #

    In my experience “floatation device” = some type of toy float or those stupid floaties. Life saving device = life jacket. Some places ban flotation device because it obscures the water making it difficult for the guards to see people in distress.

    My current pool allows floats and toys till things reach a certain level. When the crowd is big enough that the toys make it difficult for the guards to do their job – the guards can ask for everyone to take the floating toys out of the pool. When I’ve seen this happen everyone is cooperative. I’ve often seen parents start to take the toys out because they are interfering with others playing. Usually this is around 11 – 1 when the morning people are still there and the afternoon crowd is starting to come. When it clears out as the morning people leave to eat. The guards allow the toys back in.

    Never have they asked me to remove my niece’s life jacket.

  36. Scott September 26, 2009 at 4:58 am #

    Am I the only one who just sees the text “WOO HOO” and no image or link or anything?

  37. Sky September 26, 2009 at 5:23 am #

    By floatation devices they probably mean things like those floating rings that are easy for non-swimming kids to fall out of and drown (mine nearly did, but I was near enough to him to grab him, which was good, since the life guards never seem to notice a thing at our pools). Arm floaties likewise do not always provide much protection and can deflate. They are probably banned because too many parents rely on them like a life jacket, and do not supervise their non-swimming children and stay near them in the pool. A much better rule (and one I have seen at other pools) would simply be that non-swimmers must be supervised by an adult within XXX feet of them (regardless of whether they have floaties or not). As for the age limit, it would make much better if (as pools used to do when I was a kid) to have a rule that children pass a swim test before they are allowed to come unsupervised to the pool. We could take this test beginning, I think, at age 11, and unless you passed it, you were not allowed to come to the pool unsupervised. Once you passed it, you were on an approved list to come unsupervised.

  38. Alison Fairfield September 26, 2009 at 5:42 am #

    @Kimberly, thanks again for your thoughtful response. I think that the “babysitting issue” definitely comes into play at other places too. (Although that is precisely why I like my jr. patron idea!)

    This week (in Bellaire) I saw threatening notice at a library: This Is Not A Childcare Facility. I used to go to the library alone as a third grader. Sigh.

  39. Sandy September 27, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    Those are the exact rules at our neighborhood pool, minus the “no swimming after 6 pm.” Our pool is open later than that.


  40. Gail September 27, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    Apparently also “no English teachers”.

  41. Carol September 27, 2009 at 9:47 pm #

    Childrens Museums are crashingly dull to anyone over the age of about 8. The only reason I can imagine a 12 or 13 year old being at one unsupervised is because his or her parents dropped them off. Its the same issue as the library. IF they aren’t with younger kids (who would likely also have parents there) who do you call to say “Come get your hellion”?

  42. Peter September 29, 2009 at 3:52 am #

    No horseplay? Well, to be fair, “Equus” might be a bit disturbing for some kids…

  43. malweth October 6, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    Since when is “No Horseplay” an odd rule? Aside from a 16 year old age limit I see nothing out of the ordinary.

  44. karrie November 2, 2009 at 5:53 am #

    I snapped a shot this past summer of a playground in rural NH that included the stern warning:


    Seriously. And just the other day I overheard a parent at my son’s kindergarten say to her two charges: “Boys! We do not run on the playground. It is against school rules to run and we are on school property.”

    I burst out laughing because I had just finished suggesting to my energetic son that he *run* around for a few more minutes before we went in.

  45. car review September 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

    Guess with no flotation device, there is no lazy river

  46. KyohakuKeisanki May 2, 2011 at 3:19 am #

    At my local pool (McClure Park in Tulsa) the only age-related rule (as of 2010) is “A responsible caregiver (16 & older) must accompany all children age 9 years and younger. The ratio of parent/supervisor to children they are supervising shall not exceed 1 to 4. Children who cannot swim 20 feet unassisted or is using a flotation device must be within an arms reach of a caregiver.”

    Basically, no unsupervised children under age 10, and all children ages 11-15 must be able to swim in order to go unsupervised.

    Oh, and they have a high dive.


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