Blooming daffodils were on Al Jolson’s mind when he wrote the song, “April Showers.” But for me, it’s the sheer joy of getting soaked out in the rain. In my youth, my mother soon learned she could not stop the rambunctious kid from getting wet so she just said, “Well, then do it in your Skivvies.” I’m not sure if it was because I was breaking social rules or if it just felt so invigorating. Some 60 years later, I still don’t mind motor- cycling in a light rain, skinny dipping in the lake at night, or taking a shower outdoors. It’s downright fun in a world that is way too serious.
The practical side
While outdoor showers are fun, they’re not for everyone. But an outdoor bathing area can serve practical functions. It may be that its principal value lies in getting the sand off the dogs, kids and adults. Or it might be a summer alternative to making a mess indoors with bathing suits and beach towels strewn around.
Whether for fun or function, be sure to address the following issues when building your outdoor shower:
- You’ll need a source of hot and cold water, which for most folks means a plumbing extension from the cabin. In northern climates such as mine in Minnesota, that means including some shut-off valves to drain it out before freezing temps set in. I’ve seen a few attached only to a garden hose and a cold water hose bib, but that makes for a chilly shower.
- A flat deck or a concrete slab is important for standing on so your feet are clean and sand free when finished.
- You need a plan for disposing of gray water that complies with your local building codes Some rules of thumb: The water should not drain toward the lake or cabin. If your building a shower on dense soil, such as clay, remove some earth under the deck and add in some gravel sloping away from the shower.
- A movable or fixed privacy wall is needed, especially for the bashful. You may also need a privacy screen overhead if you are in a densely developed area with tall cabins adjacent.
- For late evening showers, you’ll need a light. Place the switch far enough away from the shower so you won’t use it while wet. Note: A light directly overhead might collect bugs where you least prefer them.
- Put towel hooks at two levels Some at about 36 inches so children can reach them, but others high enough that the adults’ large beach towels won’t get soaked (about 48 inches).
- Purchase some biodegradable soap and shampoo, as chances are you are not connecting the drain to a septic or municipal sewer system.
- You’ll need someplace to store soap, shampoo, towels and articles of clothing. Having a few extra pairs of flip-flops might also be in order.
- Have a path of pavers to the cabin so only clean feet make it inside.
- Locate the shower on a less public side of the cabin. But if you have waterfront property, make it convenient to a path from the beach.
Once you have an outdoor shower, you’ll have one more thing at the cabin to add to summer’s pleasures.