A Day at the Local Swimming Hole

Nothing Like a Swim

Swimming at DAR in Goshen

Swimming at the DAR in Goshen, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Summer for us means a few trips away, a week of camp for each boy and many days of waking up in the morning and figuring out the day based on an algorithm of weather, health and how much energy the boys need to expend versus what I have to balance with work commitments.

It is hard to explain but easy to do. The upshot is swimming. All weather being fair, we calculate the amount of time we have for the project and then I pack snacks.

Swimming at Plainfield Pond

Cooling off at Plainfield Pond in Plainfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

When I have just a little time, we go directly to Northampton’s Musante Beach (Leeds, MA). For just a few dollars – or about $60 for the summer (depending on if you are a town resident or not), we can enjoy a life-guarded beach portion of the Mill River. The water is cold and clear. The current is unnoticeable unless like me you notice that it keeps the water nice and clean.

For all you parents, yes to bathrooms and life jackets, if you prefer them. Also, yes to the occasional ice cream truck- arm yourself with a few singles…if your kids are little you will enjoy how close the parking is to the spot where your kids will get to start playing.

Given a few more hours, we are likely to head to Puffers Pond near UMASS in Amherst. The kids love this oversized pond. Its water is perfect swimming temperature- chilled only when you get in and out. There is not that much sand to play with at the pond but it is nicely packed in for kids who like to drive their trucks around.

Sand Castles at DAR

Building sand castles at DAR in Goshen, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

For parents of swimmers, there is no lifeguard on duty- or as I tell my kids, mama is on duty.  The upside side- yes to water wings, inflatable rings, rafts, pool noodles! You can even put in a canoe or kayak. Head’s up to parents: it can be a bit of a hike from roadside parking to parked on your blanket & there are port-a-pottties only.  It is all worth it, to find yourself in a sweet New England swimming hole.

Other places we land for a swim are the DAR (Goshen, MA) and our beloved Hampshire YMCA (Northampton, MA) on off weather days.

What about you? Where do you go when you want to jump in a lake?


Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.


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