DIY Snow Cones: A Natural Taste of Summer

Ah, summertime.

Favorite memories of the season often include a combination of sun, water and delicious frozen treats, one of which is the classic snow cone. This flavored crushed ice is a simple but universal staple of many memorable summer adventures.

Unfortunately, snow cone syrup is often packed with chemicals, food dyes and hidden sugars that aren’t quite as nutritious as they are fun to eat. If you’re looking to capture the magic of summer in a delicious snow cone without any of the pre-packaged or way-too-sugary syrups, look no further! Here’s how to have fun while making healthier choices this summer.

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup of 100 percent fruit juice
  • ½ to 1 cup of sugar, depending on your preferred tartness of juice
  • Ice
  • Blender, food processor or snow cone maker to shave ice
  • Small saucepan

 

What to do: 

  1. In a small saucepan, combine fruit juice and sugar.
  2. Set saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn to low and simmer for five minutes, stirring until sugar completely dissolves.
  4. Pour syrup into a jar and allow it to cool completely.
  5. Refrigerate for several hours before use.
  6. To make snow cone, mound shaved ice in a snow cone cup or bowl. Pour your homemade syrup over the ice and dig in!

Bonus recipe: 

August also happens to be National Coffee Month. If you’re a kid at heart who still needs their afternoon caffeine, here’s a recipe for a delicious coffee syrup for a cold treat fit for grown ups.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of strong coffee
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tbs of lemon juice
  • Small pan

What to do:

  1. Boil ingredients in a small pan.
  2. Set in fridge to cool.
  3. Pour over shaved ice.

The summer celebrations don’t have to stop when school starts! Keep a taste of summer going as long as possible by enjoying after-school snow cones to cool off and celebrate a long day of learning.

What’s your favorite DIY snow cone syrup flavor? Let us know!

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DIY Water Parks: Build a Backyard Aquatic Adventure

With Summer in full swing, it’s no surprise that the weather outside has been getting hot, hot, hot!

Instead of shelling out money, waiting in line, and dealing with the stresses of taking the family to a water park, we have another idea: bring the water park to you! By skipping the hassles of a busy water park and working together to set up these fun water games in the grass, you’ll have tons of fun as a family.

Read on for some easy and fun ways to transform your backyard into an amusement oasis for the kids —and the kids-at-heart!

Water Balloon Piñatas

Water balloons are a summer classic. Turn the hot weather staple into something new by hanging oversized water balloons from a tree branch or the monkey bars, then take turns breaking your water piñatas with a baseball bat. (Just make sure you clean up all the broken balloons once you’re done so any furry friends don’t accidentally eat them.)

For a little extra fun, award a popsicle prize that corresponds with the color of each balloon you break!

Pool Noodle Sprinklers

It’s easy to transform a pool noodle—another classic summertime staple—into a refreshing sprinkler. Just poke holes into your pool noodle, plug the opening on one side and then attach the mouth of a garden hose into the other side. When you turn on the water, you’ll have a fun H2O gadget ready for any party. Read even more detailed instructions here.

Human-Sized Bubble-Maker

via GIPHY

Blowing bubbles and a warm summer breeze go together like peanut butter and jelly. These human-sized bubbles will put wonder and awe into the eyes of your guests.

All you need is a lot of bubble solution, a plastic kiddie pool and a hula hoop. Fill up the pool with the bubble solution, then have one of your guests stand inside the hula hoop inside the pool. When they pull up on the hula hoop, the bubble will envelope the person inside. This is a great way to add some whimsy to your backyard waterpark.

Slip ‘N-’ Slide

No backyard water park would be complete without a slip ‘n-’ slide. As it turns out, DIY slip ‘n-’ slides tend to be more durable than their storebought counterparts. Gather up heavy plastic sheeting, dish soap and stakes to secure the plastic to the ground. For full instructions on how to build a heavy-duty slip ‘n-’ slide that’ll be a hit all season, head here.

We hope these ideas have sparked your imagination and added some fun to your summer. Always remember to stay hydrated when you’re outdoors—even when you’re surrounded by water!

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State Spotlight: Your Guide to Aquatic Summer Fun in New Jersey

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start to the summer season, and for many of us in the northeastern region of the country, this means plenty of trips to the sandy shores of New Jersey are on the horizon.

The state has a rich history of tourism connected to vacationing at New Jersey shorelines. While many tourists are expected to visit the famous beaches each summer, plenty of Garden State residents and visitors will also be looking for fun and spontaneous ways to beat the heat.

Aqua is proud to serve eleven counties in New Jersey that offer plenty water-themed activities for tourists and residents alike. Here’s a brief look at the summer fun our communities have to offer.

Beaches

What would a summer in New Jersey be without trips to the beach? Residents and friends of Aqua in Egg Harbor Township certainly know a thing or two about beaches with their own proximity to sunny shorelines and Atlantic City.

Plus, Berkeley Township residents are just a hop, skip and jump away from Seaside Heights, where the boardwalk and beaches boast festivals, sports and events all throughout the season. Both areas—among plenty of other beaches along the state’s coast—are prime destinations for summer getaways.

Waterparks

One alternative to a dip in the ocean is to visit a waterpark. These aquatic amusement parks can make waves for your favorite beach sports and offer exciting water-based activities for people of all ages.

Families in Clementon will celebrate 110 years of summer fun at Clementon Park & Splash World this year. Plus, our friends in Vernon Township might consider a visit to take in the views and adventure opportunities of Mountain Creek.

(Psst: To keep your family safe while swimming this summer, check out our tips on water safety.)

Local Lakes

Visiting nearby lakes, like those in and around Hardyston Township, is another way to join in on the aquatic fun.

If swimming isn’t your favorite, boating or fishing can be equally as refreshing alternatives. We even found members of the Laurel Springs community sharing their best catches on Laurel Lake’s Facebook page.

Other Water-based Activities

You don’t necessarily need large bodies of water to find fun. In Phillipsburg, families can enjoy a ride on a steam engine train—steam means water—and learn more about the history of railway travel in the state.

Lebanon Township will host its third annual Sprinkler Day this August in partnership with their local fire company. It’s hard to beat a celebration of community and water!

We love to see our neighbors and communities getting ready for another memorable summer. What aquatic activities do you have planned?

 

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5 Timely Tips to Celebrate Water Safety Month

Did you know May is recognized as National Water Safety Month? With summer right around the corner, we want to highlight a few of the most valuable tips for keeping yourself and loved ones safe by the pool, lake or ocean this swim season.

Here’s how to stay safe around the water—and what to do in case of an emergency.

Safety First and Foremost

Before venturing into any body of water, ensure that you are well prepared with the proper swimming safety gear—especially if you’re with someone with little to no trained swimming skills. Goggles, water wings, inflatable rafts and body boards can all be utilized for safety and a more relaxing experience in the water. Keep some or all of these tools readily available, and remember to never leave an inexperienced swimmer in the water without attentive supervision.

Follow Signs, Guidelines and Rules

 

Image via Wikimedia

Once you’ve got your safety gear covered, it’s important to keep an eye out for any signs surrounding the swimming area. If you’re at a pool, signage indicating water depth, diving policies and lifeguard duties are common. Larger bodies of water such as oceans and lakes tend to have signs indicating whether a lifeguard is on duty, how tall waves may be and daily water temperatures. Always remember to take note of these factors before entering the water!

Get the Low-Down on Swimming

 

This one seems obvious, but the very best way to ensure water safety is to learn how to swim! Invest in a few swimming lessons to build a level of skill and comfort in pools and any larger bodies of water. Regardless of age, safety and basic swim skills are essential for a positive experience in or near the water.

What to Do in a Water Emergency

 

In the instance of an emergency, acting fast is absolutely crucial. Is there a lifeguard on duty? Call for help immediately, whether from an on-duty guard, a bystander or 911. If CPR is required, ask if anyone nearby is certified and able to provide help. CPR certification is simple to acquire via local courses and is highly recommended as a general life skill in case of any emergency. Most importantly, get any individual in need out of the water as quickly as possible and ask questions to determine their level of consciousness while you call for help.

Better Protected with Buddies

 

Buddy up! Venturing into the water on your own puts you at higher risk of falling victim to a dangerous situation. Even the most highly skilled swimmers can encounter an unsafe situation in the water, so having people nearby is always a major safety net. Plus, swimming is much more fun with friends.

Memorial Day is only a few weeks away, which means pools are opening and people are growing eager to hit the beach. Keep the above safety tips in mind this summer for a stress-free, safety-first swim season.

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6 Ways to Hydrate Like an Olympian

Ever wonder how Olympic athletes stay hydrated? With the 2016 Summer Olympics underway, that question has been on our minds a lot. Sometimes we just want to know how many glasses of water it takes Michael Phelps to swim in peak condition. That’s why we decided to do a little digging to discover exactly how Olympic superstars like Phelps replenish their energy in order to take the home the gold.

Sweat it off

Olympic athletes need to drink before, during and after their training sessions and competitions. Sweating is the body’s way of controlling temperature, and athletes do a lot of it over the course of a day. Constant water breaks are a surefire way to recharge your system and keep you at peak performance. 

Don’t go for the gold

What exactly does healthy, hydrated urine look like? Mostly clear! The more water you drink, the more diluted your pee urine becomes. If your urine is darker in color and has a strong odor, then you’re definitely dehydrated. No worries, though: All you need to do to fix the problem is have a couple more glasses of water a day.

Burn, baby, burn

Consuming thousands of calories a day is a necessity for Olympians. They burn off most of what they eat while competing and then need to replenish themselves in order to keep up muscle mass. Drinking more water not only helps athletes stay refreshed, but it also improves digestion and reduces stomach pains. (That must be a nice bonus after eating all that food.)

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Glass half full

Athletes may give it 110 percent when racing, swimming or pole vaulting, but their bodies are only made up of about half that percentage in water. If an Olympian loses more than two percent of their weight in water, they will begin to lose their mental edge. Staying hydrated both prevents fatigue and keeps the mind and reflexes sharp for optimal Olympic performance.

Drink more than you think

One of the biggest misconceptions about hydration is that you only need to drink water when you physically feel thirsty. In reality it’s already too late. By drinking water (or other beverages with high water content) every so often you can prevent dehydration from sneaking up on you. This is especially important if you’re out in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Pro tip: By carrying a reusable water bottle with you at all times, you’ll be more likely to take sips throughout the day.

Be a good sport

We know we talk a lot about water, but hey, that’s what we do best. However, one of the best ways to make sure you stay as healthy as possible is to consume sports drinks in addition to your regular water intake. Sports drinks contain electrolytes that help to replace the sodium athletes lose when they sweat.

 

We all need to stay hydrated, but athletes need to work on it a little bit more than the rest of us. To keep yourself hydrated, check out these hacks. If you take these hydration tips to heart, who knows — maybe you’ll be up on a podium wearing the gold one day!

 

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