Fighting Dehydration with a Water Monster

May 15, 2013 by John Oliver

Each summer, West Bend sends a team of safety experts across the Midwest to present to thousands of camp counselors at YMCAs and summer camps. When visiting with camp counselors we talk about many of the popular topics that probably come to mind: drowning prevention, abuse recognition, and field trip safety to name a few. And because we know campers will be spending a huge portion of their time outdoors in the summer heat, we also spend time discussing heat-related safety concerns tied to dehydration.

As you can imagine, proper hydration can be one of the drier (no pun intended) discussions. Stories about drownings at camp, abuse at camp and botched field trips, after all, get all of the headlines. But as a recent article in the New York Times points out, it's easy to push heat-related illnesses to the side even though heat stroke causes the death of a young athlete every other day in the hot summer months.

Unfortunately, even if you know that keeping busy campers hydrated is important, it can be extremely difficult to actually provide an efficient and cost-effective solution. Constantly filling small barrels of cold water and keeping paper cups stocked could be a full-time job at a busy camp. And then you have to get campers to actually drink the water.

The Water Monster

We received a tip from one of our customers last summer about a solution that worked wonders at their camp... the Water Monster. The Water Monster is an enormous, 125-gallon water container that comes with six self-serve spigots to accomodate several drinkers all at once.

Testimonial From Phantom Lake YMCA Camp

Tony Ayala, the Camp Director at Phantom Lake YMCA Camp in Mukwonago, Wisconsin worked with Water Monster last summer to outfit the camp with three new Water Monster filling stations. Even with one of the hottest summers on record, they had a safe and successful camp season. Here's more information about Phantom Lake's experience directly from Tony Ayala:

The Old Way

Phantom Lake YMCA Camp (PLYC) has two drinking fountains in the Dining Hall, an iron-tasting well-water drinking fountain near our main lodge and 8 stations for 5 gallon water jugs, and sleeves and sleeves of 7 ounce plastic cups. The 5 gallon water jugs were leased from a distributor from a company like Culligan or Hinckley Springs. The old way required a maintenance staff member to replace empty water containers multiple times a day. We stored anywhere from 25-50 5 gallon jugs at camp for distribution. The water was room temperature and each unit had only one water spout to fill plastic cups or water bottles. In addition, the 7 ounce plastic cups ended up everywhere but the recycling bin.

The 5 gallon jug stations were leased for the summer, deposits were made to each 5 gallon container and the water was purchased and delivered by truck.

PLYC spent over $4,500 during the 2011 summer on water.

The Water Monster Way

$4,500… that’s a lot of money to provide campers with clean water. It was the goal of PLYC to think outside of the box and find a solution that made sense, save camp money, and continue to provide clean water to campers and staff. The solution: Water Monsters.

We know that the well-water is drinkable, however it tastes irony and can be unpleasant to drink. The Water Monsters come with a filtration system, the only question was whether the filter could handle the hard water. Luckily, it did. The water was ice cold from the well and contained no trace of irony water. PLYC purchased three Water Monsters and strategically placed them around camp.  One sits at our swimming area, another in our main lodge, and the last one at our athletic courts.

PLYC had enough money to invest in the Water Monsters and purchase personalized 20 ounce water bottles for each camper, staff, and junior counselor.

Wisconsin had one of the hottest and driest summers on record and dehydration and heat related illnesses were a non-issue. Upon check in, each camper receives a personalized water bottle. Each bottle is printed with the camp logo on the front and the following on the back:

Camper’s Name
Tent or Group

Campers write their information on the bottles before they move into their cabin. The Water Monster located at our main lodge receives the most use and we filled it three times during the triple digit days of late June. This meant that water consumption and hydration was up.

Imagine those hot days with the old way: The long lines, the empty jugs, the maintenance staff replacing water jugs all day, the amount of plastic cups used, not to mention the kid that chooses not to drink water because he didn’t want to stand in line or the other kid that drank only one plastic cup full of water and didn’t return for a refill because of the long lines or empty jugs.

The Water Monster + water bottle combination solved our problems.

We clean and fill up the water jugs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The water is ice cold as it’s pumped from the well and remains cool throughout the day. Even on the scorching hot days, the insulator wraps can keep cold water cool for hours. We are lucky to have used this product and will only replace it if a better method of water distribution presents itself.

We're thrilled to hear that the Phantom Lake YMCA Camp found an effective solution to one of the biggest safety concerns facing summer camps each year. What has your camp done to ensure that campers and counselors are hydrated all day long?

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