ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Summer Water Fun on a Budget

Updated on February 7, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Skating, biking, and hiking are Liz's exercises. Calisthenics? Going to the gym? No way. It has to be exercise that is playtime.

Bring on the Water Play!


Summer Fun With Water

Is your budget strapped, and you are on a forced "staycation?" Here are some classic fun things to do with water to cool things down this summer!

It may be old-school, but there are many variations on the theme of 'running through the sprinklers' since I was a child. Growing up in San Francisco as I did, there were not many days where getting wet was fun. But when those rare days did arrive, the backyard sprinkler was the place to be.

If you live in a warmer climate than that, however, you may be in an area where a good number of folks have their own swimming pools, but no city-run municipal pools as San Francisco had--at about one per neighborhood area of the city. Or, there may be only one pool in the city, which is ridiculously crowded on hot days.

If you are lucky, you are friends with someone who has a backyard pool, and can enjoy it with them. Even then, it is unlikely that will be a daily invitation. Here, then, are several more ways to have fun getting wet and cooling down.

Keeping it Safe

Before I dive in (no pun intended--well--maybe just a little one...), let me emphasize, "safety first." Here is a checklist:

  1. Do not allow children to play with water unsupervised--this means adult supervision, not older kids or teenagers. While teens may be reliable for "ordinary" babysitting; when it comes to water play, they'll want to join in on the fun as well.
  2. If a pool is to be used, no matter how small, very young children must not be in the water without a parent. Non-swimmers can slip, fall and drown in as little as an inch of water. If the pool is deep enough to completely immerse the child, it is imperative that they are secured in a flotation device, whether a life vest or other approved safety equipment.
  3. Secure the play area by first putting away any garden tools, and clearing away any debris that could cause injuries or trip-and-fall incidents.
  4. Set and enforce strict rules about the play area boundaries; you don't want a water fight suddenly out in the street.
  5. Use water-resistant sunscreen--often, especially on the youngest and fairest-colored. Toddlers should wear a sun hat, as you really don't want sunscreen in thier hair, and they can easily get burned through their hair, which is usually thin and light-colored.

Automatic Sprinkler Systems Can Be Operated Manually

On to the Fun--Running in the Sprinklers

Naturally, the old-school sprinklers are great fun, and games can be invented to see who can either stay driest or get wettest first. (Guess what? No one will win at staying dry, unless maybe mom or dad!) It doesn't matter. It's an everyone-wins good time.

I remember once a chum grabbed the hose and picked up the whole sprinkler and aimed it at the rest of us! Our squeals of 'protest' were not about getting wet, but that we hadn't thought of doing that first!

Many people have in-ground sprinkler systems run on timers, as are ours. However, there is usually a manual override switch somewhere, and they can be turned on at any time.

This is double or triple the fun, especially in an 'avoidance' game, as it is doubtful that any two of them will be aiming the same way at the same time, there being at least three, sometimes as many as five sprinklers on the same system valve.

Water Balloon "Grenades"

You'll need lots of these; and a supply for each team.
You'll need lots of these; and a supply for each team.

Water Balloon Games

Water balloons are a perennial favorite, and can be had in large quantities and very cheaply at dollar stores. Almost as much fun is had filling them as having the wars with them. It is a good thing I am still a kid at heart, and have no objections to getting soaked right along with the kiddos, as twice, while filling the balloons, they burst in my lap! The kids had a good laugh, and I had a nice cool-down.

Specific Games:

  1. Expanding Toss/Catch: In this game, best for small groups of two or three players, the participants stand in a circle, and near enough to just hand their balloon across to the other players. Then, they all take one step backwards, and again hand off or very gently toss the balloons. Again, they step backwards one step. As the game progresses, they get far enough apart that a pretty good heave is needed to get the water balloon to the other players. The first person to miss catching a balloon will of course find it bursts near them; they get wet and are 'out.' It is the same game sometimes done at parties using raw eggs. (I'd rather have the balloons--no egg mess to clean, and no waste of food.)
  2. Modified War: Each player receives a set number of water balloons, and a designated area to defend. At the signal of the starter (a supervisory non-player), using perhaps a whistle, the war begins. The loser is the one who gets wettest and/or runs out of balloons first; the victor is the one who stays driest and/or has balloons leftover.
  3. Free-For-All: At some point, most water-balloon games devolve into this mad-dash and grab at the supply tub, the missiles being hurled at random in the general direction of anyone and everyone. That's the whole point, right? It is why our annual BBQ invitations read, "Dress code: Nothing you don't want wet!"

When the fun is over, the final rule no matter the game, is to have everyone who was playing police the area and pick up all the scraps of broken balloons, so they do not become a hazard to wildlife.

Water Cannons

Click thumbnail to view full-size
These look more like some kind of alien ray gun than the old-style squirt guns
These look more like some kind of alien ray gun than the old-style squirt guns
These look more like some kind of alien ray gun than the old-style squirt guns

Mega-Super-Soaker Games

One thing available these days that did not exist when I was young is the water cannons or super-soakers. We had little 'squirt guns' that were useful only at about point-blank range.
The modern versions are very large water pistols, with an air chamber that is pumped up manually. The range is up to thirty feet on many models, and they propel a sizable stream of water as well.

Games that can be played with these are very much the same as the "Modified War" and "Free-For-All" games with the water balloons, (or playing "forts" with snowballs). Find an area to defend, and try to stay dry while soaking everyone else. If it's a really hot day, most players will "lose" on purpose, for who wants to stay dry when it's hot enough for water play?

How long will it be before someone 'wises up' and realizes that if you grab the garden hose, you have no need to stop for refills? Or how long before a fun-loving, kid-at-heart adult grabs the hose and hoses down all the players?

Check your hose situation first--around here, there are two available within the allowed play area, and yes, both connected to a water supply!

Now that's a super-soaker!

The Ultimate "Water Cannon"

The ultimate water-games weapon!
The ultimate water-games weapon! | Source

Keeping It Fun All Summer

You know kids, "We did that last week!" and, "I'm bored!" If you live where summer days are consistently hot, unlike San Francisco's rare 'heat waves,' water play remains a viable source of fun. I don't know too many kids who don't enjoy finding any excuse to get wet in hot weather.

To keep the fun alive all summer, you might have team events with their friends, like competition ladders in other kinds of tournaments.

Each week's winners compete against those from the prior week. You could alternate the players in and out of the various games--sprinkler winners next move to water balloons, then to super-soakers, and so forth, until all teams have rotated through all the games.

You don't need prizes; the prize is the fun and games themselves. No doubt, there will be an ongoing challenge for bragging rights, and if you live where it snows, 'revenge' might come in that season, and again be countered the following summer.

Join in the play. It's good for kids to see mom and dad get down and playful with everyone, instead of always being the rule-makers. Even though there are strict safety rules for water play, adults can still have fun with their kids.

Now--go get wet!

© 2011 Liz Elias


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)