When the weather turns hot and humid, there’s no better way to stay cool than at your local swimming hole. Swimming holes offer something that your pool does not: privacy, seclusion, crisp cold water, and no chemicals. That icy mountain stream gets the old heart moving at first, but feels refreshing when the air temperature passes 90 degrees.

At camp, we have two swimming holes. We frequently take kids to one along Jeremy’s Run because we can walk there. Jeremy’s Run is nice. There’s an upper pool with a slide down to a lower pool. But occasionally we’ll take special groups to Overall Run which has a faster slide, a deeper pool, and a small jumping rock.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of swimming in both. It was Family Weekend here at the Mountain Campus, and on Saturday, I lead a wildflower hike along Jeremy’s Run. With the hot weather, we stopped at the swimming hole. I don’t usually get in during program hikes, but I was roasting. The swim felt good. Today, after everyone left, I went to Overall Run with Megan and Huck. Shadow and Bizzy came along as well. Initially, the rest of the staff was going to come, but they pooped out and missed a great time. Megan left early and I stayed behind to photograph the waterfalls.

Swimming holes can be a lot of fun, but there are some precautions you should take to keep you and the hole safe. If the water is not clear, you should always test the depth before jumping off a rock or sliding down a waterfall. Watch out for strong currents and undercut rocks, especially in large rivers. Remember that you are entering a natural ecosystem. Be careful with chemical substances like bug spray and sunscreen. It’s best not to use them when swimming in a stream. Check out the inhabitants of the stream. Turning over rocks will reveal a world of creatures you probably had no idea were there. An abundance of Stonefly and Mayfly nymphs and Caddisfly larvae are a good indication of good water quality and a healthy stream. Swimming holes are natures own water parks, and they can be more fun than our man-made ones.