Goals and challenges
This family-owned Texas waterpark is set on 60 acres in the Chihuahua Desert, tucked into the foothills of the Franklin Mountains. Founded in 1979 by Berry H. Edwards, the facility started with two water slides. Now, under the watch of his children, Chandra Edwards-Cottingham and Conan Edwards, Wet ‘N’ Wild Waterworld boasts more than 30 rides and attractions, and annual attendance exceeding 200,000.
The park serves an area known as The Borderland, sitting on the boundaries of Texas, Mexico and New Mexico. The facility is rooted in the area it serves, and management feels strongly that there’s a duty to offer a fun, safe environment for guests, employees and citizens. The desire to “give back” underlies everything Wet ‘N’ Wild does.
How they did it
The waterpark is dedicated to promoting water safety and drowning prevention to its guests and the community. Every day, water safety tips are offered through public service advertisements broadcast in English and Spanish throughout the park on Splash Radio.
Parents are encouraged to pick up life vests for their children as part of a free loan program sponsored by a local dairy. Additionally, the park sends its mascot, Freddy the surfboarding frog, and several lifeguards out to give water safety presentations at elementary schools during Drowning Prevention Week.
In August the park hosted the third annual Christian Castle Lifeguard Olympics, started by Drowning Prevention Coalition member Laura Castle after losing her young son Christian to drowning. The event (shown) gives local lifeguards a chance to display their skills and compete against each other. Teams of four vie in contests such as an open-water sprint relay, passive submerged victim rescue, shallow-water back boarding, and a two-person CPR/AED scenario. One of the key objectives is to advance safety in public venues by acquainting the community with water safety procedures and skills used daily by professional lifeguards.
Because the region is home to many low-income families struggling to obtain basic necessities, Wet ‘N’ Wild also helps with food-collection efforts in a number of ways. As a host location for the Anthony Independent School District’s Summer Food Program since 2011, the park facilitates distribution of thousands of free lunches to children 18 and younger on weekdays. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Agriculture Department.
The park also partners with the Anthony Police Department, sponsor of the APD Food Pantry, to help provide food to nearly 600 local citizens each month. The park provides tickets for a pantry raffle, and hosts APD’s annual Car Show and Beach Party, with the proceeds benefiting the pantry.
Each December, Wet ‘N’ Wild solicits donations for the Feed Them for a Week program, organized by the Community Resources Board, which stocks the pantries of more than 32 families.
Wet ‘N’ Wild’s community outreach efforts have gained local media attention, and word is spreading among businesses and organizations. This publicity not only helps build recognition for the waterpark, but it also lets outside groups know that Wet ‘N’ Wild is eager to work with organizations that share its goal of increasing the overall health of The Borderland community.
- Perhaps because of the desert locale and shortage of aquatic venues, many Borderland residents can’t swim. So Wet ‘N’ Wild provides low-cost or even free swim and exercise opportunities. A free swim lesson in May attracted 61 students, aged 5 to 33 years.
- Lifeguards give safety presentations at elementary schools during Drowning Prevention Week.