There was a time, say about ten or eleven years ago, when any utterance of the word "pool" was met with riotous, schnauzerlike hysteria on the part of my male child. And it was with this in mind that I suggested to my card-carrying American male teenager that he might like to accompany his mother to the Buhr Park Pool on a summer afternoon. His dismissive grunt in no way recalled those gleeful cartwheels of yore, and so it was that I went by myself last year on the Fourth of July to see what happens at the weekly Wet-N-Wild Wednesdays, which resume this year on June 26.
This weekly summertime activity at Buhr Pool typically attracts hordes of youngsters, many of whom come to the pool with their day camp groups. But holiday traffic was light last year, and the pool was surprisingly calm. Still, there was enthusiasm to spare from Buhr's expert staff as well as the twenty or so small fry who came running (despite being told to WALK!) to every activity. The programs feature structured, kid-friendly activities every fifteen minutes. By the time I arrived I'd missed the scavenger hunt and What Time Is It, Mr. Fox? Darn. But a series of parachute games was in full swing. Toddlers to ten-year-olds, plus a few parents, were clustered under the trees at the side of the pool holding onto a rainbow-colored parachute and playing Popcorn with a soccer ball. Then Gail, leading the game, would shout out a color, and kids holding onto that color would hightail it to the other side of the chute. During the break, kids grabbed chalk and created their own artwork right on the concrete while Sheryl Crow sang "All I Want to Do" over the loudspeakers.
Fifteen minutes later came an announcement: "Attention Buhr Pool patrons! There will be a cannonball contest in the main pool!" I jumped into the water to check it out. Little kids and older kids were divided into two groups and then took turns jumping into the water competing for biggest splash. Everyone was praised and encouraged.
Later there was a round of Number Ball. The kids and Gail stood in the pool in a big circle. She tossed a couple of balls into the center and began shouting out who could retrieve them.
| "If your name begins with J!"
"If you have green in your bathing
"If you have two lips!"
"If you think this water is coooold!"
More parachute games finished up the day. I was impressed with the involvement of the staff. They all seemed genuinely gung ho and made each game an adventure. Gail told me that once a year they even fill up a kiddie pool with Jell-O and let the kids jump around in it. "It's really disgusting," she said matter-of-factly, "but the kids really like it."