30 November 2021

The Great Haig Park Water Fight

| Jeremy Jones

The Great Haig Park Water Fight is on Saturday 4 December. Photo: Gupi de Zavalia.

The battle lines are drawn, so who do you know that needs to get splashed, sprinkled or just plain drenched?

The Great Haig Park Water Fight is on again, with this month’s Play Outside Day to transform Haig Park into a water fight arena.

“This event gives people of all ages the opportunity to get outside and have some fun with a good old-fashioned water fight,” says Jim Sharrock, the referee for the event and a beloved member of the arts community in Canberra.

“The whole day is based around a series of inclusive water fight activities including capture the flag, castle wars and a mini-Olympics.

“Play Outside Day is the perfect antidote to staying inside for three months during lockdown. Play Outside Day is on the first Saturday of every month in Haig Park and is an opportunity to have fun with family and friends in the park.

Castle Wars, Capture the Flag and Mini-Olympics are all the play agenda. Photo: Caitlin Welch.

“The team and I have put together a series of activities that aim to involve all ages and abilities. We want everyone to experience the joy of play.”

“The water fight activities are reimagined games that involve lots of water play. The rules of each game will be simple enough for everyone to follow, but there will be plenty of space for people to create their own fun. I will lead each game by carefully explaining the rules then blowing the whistle.”

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Capture the flag is a schoolyard classic where two opposing teams — identified by coloured ribbons — attempt to retrieve the flag from the other team’s base. Each team needs to work out how to capture the other team flag and if you get squirted with a water pistol, you have to go back to your side and start again.

Castle Wars is adapted from a game that the referee, Jim, plays with his family every summer. It involves attendees constructing box forts using cardboard and building materials provided on the day, before knocking them down with water pistols and sponges.

Play Outside Day is the first Saturday of every month and is an event for the whole family. Photo: Caitlin Welch.

The day will have something for everyone.

“For those folks who like water play more than water fights, there will also be the Splash Zone, with sprinklers and the southern hemisphere’s largest bubble-maker,” says Jim.

Play Outside Day highlights the importance of having fun.

“Play is important because it’s the natural way that children learn. As an adult with many responsibilities and worries, I play as a form of mindfulness. Play as an adult helps me focus my attention in the present, to practise lateral thinking and to enjoy the wonders of creativity and friendship,” added Jim.

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The importance of playing doesn’t just benefit individuals, it’s also improved the city’s relationship with Haig Park. Events like Play Outside Day and the park’s monthly PAWS Parties are examples of the way that play has resurrected the park’s reputation.

This use of play as a technique for positive social change has been driven by the University of Canberra’s Play, Creativity and Wellbeing Project run by Associate Professor Cathy Hope, who is a partner on the project.

“Play is really effective for transforming people’s relationships with place and each other”, says Professor Hope.

“Play is something we all know how to do and most of us find play a positive experience. Play provides us with safe and familiar cues to engage in activities in public spaces.”

Playful events have made significant inroads in reconfiguring Canberra’s relationship with Haig Park. The area has gone from a place that Canberrans perceived as unsafe, to a warm and vibrant community hub where all kinds of wonderfully creative activities occur.

For smaller kids, there will be play stations for them to have fun near their parents. Photo: Caitlin Welch.

And finally, the all-important water fight question. How will disputes be resolved?

Referee Jim Sharrock says a tried and tested conflict resolution technique will be implemented.

“Disputes will be resolved firstly with paper, rock, scissors, and then, if that doesn’t work, with the help of parents and carers. If the dispute is between parents or carers, the dispute will be resolved with the water cannon. The referee’s decision is final.”

Jim’s final advice for attendees? “As my mum used to say, get outside and play.”

The whole family is welcome, including the dog. Photo: Caitlin Welch.

The Great Haig Park Water Fight will take place on Saturday, December 4, 2021. Get free tickets or learn more about Play Outside Day here.

The Great Haig Park Water Fight is a collaboration between the City Renewal Authority and the University of Canberra’s Faculty of Arts and Design.

Original Article published by Jeremy Jones on Riotact.

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