Belle Isle Spray Ground Initiative

VAFP is working with the Friends Of Belle Isle State Park to raise tax deductible funds to build a "spray ground" or children's water park at Belle Isle. This project is a prototype for Virginia State Parks and following successful construction of this project in partnership with the Friends of Belle Isle State Park we expect to pursue similar projects in other parks that lack suitable water features.

Our Children Need To Interact With Nature

The children of yesterday spent much of their days running, jumping and playing outside. Recently the trend has been for children to stay indoors, mesmerized by video games, cell phones, computers and other electronic gadgets. Physical inactivity in children has led to dramatic increases in attention deficit disorder (ADD), childhood obesity, and "Nature Deficit Disorder" (a term coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods ).

When our children interact with nature, a range of positive effects occur. These include an increase in the following areas: cognitive functioning, imagination, sense of wonder, motor fitness, heath, psychological adjustment, and environmental ethic. Virginia recognizes our parks as the best source for contact with nature. In order to facilitate a child's return to nature, we need to identify barriers that keep families from visiting parks, create strategies to reconnect families to nature and discover the best ways to reach children and families.

A Water Facility At Belle Isle Will Reach Out To Families

Water allows families to cool off and enjoy nature at the same time. In the hot summer months, no one can deny the relief offered by pools, beaches and a fun spray ground.

Besides offering a break from hot, humid Northern Neck summers, consider the following facts: Families in campgrounds are always looking new ways to enjoy their time together. Camper surveys have proven this. Rivers are often a bad alternative because swimming access is limited. The public pool, although at one time popular, has become dated. Unfortunately, there will be no new park pool in the master plan until 2019-2024.

The benefits of a spray ground in our park include a kid friendly play environment. This means a programmable, expandable facility that is both safe and a great way to cool off on a hot Virginia day.

Other Far-Reaching Benefits Of A Spray Ground

More people, especially children, will be visiting the park and spending more time in nature, achieving the main goal of Virginia's "Child And Nature Plan For Action". A spray ground will be a magnet for other park activities, a long term improvement for the park and an amenity for rural community. This cost effective program should be considered a device for children to improve their health and a training ground for children to become nature advocates.

What Kind Of Spray Ground?

We are looking for a spray ground that will accommodate 30 guests (1 child per 20 sq ft). The target age of these guests will be from toddlers to 12 year olds. The facility should include a 30-space parking lot and be fenced in. Companies that we have inquired pricing from are Rain Drop Products, LLC and ARC, Aquatic Recreation Company. Features of the spray ground that we have compared are a re-circulating water system, 12 and 14 water features and 1600 and 1750 sq. ft.

Costs Of Putting In A Spray Ground

Estimated Building Costs - $417,600

  • Spray ground - $250,000
  • 30-space parking lot - $150,000
  • Fence around the spray ground - $17,600

Yearly Operating and Maintenance Costs - $3,220

  • Expense - $6,100
  • Revenue off-set - $2,880

We have used the VA State Park Planning Cost Analysis formula

  • 17% A/E, 10% contingency, and 10% other project cost

What Are Our Next Steps?

Support and Advise

  • VA Association for Parks - Johnny Finch


  • DCR, Division of State Parks - Joe Elton

Additional Sponsors

  • Lancaster County Board of Supervisors
  • Neighboring Counties
  • Local Legislators (sponsor an appropriation)

Funding Opportunities

  • General Assembly
  • Grants

A spray ground at Belle Isle State Park strongly supports Virginia's Children and Nature Plan for Action by bringing more children into the park. Together we can reintroduce children to the natural world, pass environmental values on to them and create future stewards of the earth.

If you would like to make a donation directly to the Belle Isle Spray Ground Initiative using PayPal, please click the donate button below:

If you would like to make a tax deductible gift, contribution, grant, etc. please, click here