Lazy F: DIY Ice Rink

by Dave Burfeind, Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center Director

DIY Ice Rink

Constructing your own ice rink is a labor of love, but also provides immense enjoyment for those involved and those who get to the opportunity to get on the ice. Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center has a glorious ice rink in the woods that is enjoyed by hundreds of people each year. Dave Burfeind, Lazy F Director, grew up in Minnesota, and has ice running through his veins which may translate into knowledge about making an ice rink. Not exactly, but some trial and error and many people who are willing to chip in have created this memorable experience.

So, here are some steps we took at Lazy F in creating our own ice rink. Use these concepts to construct your own rink in your back yard!

Obviously, there are a few simple things necessary for an ice rink:

  • a flat shady spot that is consistently cold
  • access to water
  • ice skates

Preparation:

Find a great flat spot that will not be in the sun late in the winter and turn your rink into an undesired mud pit. We tried the front playfield once; it looks flat, but once side was about a foot and have lower than the high side. That takes a lot of water! Also, come late February, the sun is higher in the sky and warming everything up on that side of the camp. Not much skating that year….

Our good friend Dan Sherman has lots of heavy equipment and comes over frequently to volunteer. It is good to have a friend with a backhoe or road grader, Dan has both, plus much more. So Dan came over with his equipment and laser level to give us the even ground to work with. Find a friend with some heavy equipment and a location you don’t mind tearing up a bit in making your dream rink.

Pray for good conditions as you set the base:

About Thanksgiving it starts getting cold in Eastern Washington. Ideal conditions for making the ice rink are cold, dry weather for several weeks. Some years have been terrible: snow right after some rain. One year we had about 8 inches of snow in November, insulating the ground. Dave does not have the ability to look into the future, so he thought it best to get on the rink (no ice yet) with the plow truck to clear the snow so the ground would freeze harder. Well, it worked for awhile, but one section of the rink was still wet and the truck sunk into the ground. He did not get stuck, but created some big ruts that went against our desire for flat ground.

Putting on the water:

Our Challenge Course and Maintenance Guy, Travis Britten, hit it right this year. The air was cold, ground hard and without snow, so he got out several garden hoses, a splitter, a couple of sprinklers and hooked it up to the frost-free spigot next to the rink. The temperature was about 20 degrees and he let them run for hours at a time, moving them regularly to lay down an even coat.

After you get this good base, it is time to just put in the time with a garden hose, no sprinkler attachment now. This allows for a better volume of water, leveling out the rink a bit more with each successive coat. The initial coats take up to an hour and 15 minutes. In the middle of the season when you are making the rink like glass, it is only about 45 minutes. This is a great time to talk with God, enjoying the solitude and glorious surroundings. This year, Chris Burfeind has been our Rink Master and put a number of layers on, I think we may be up to 10 – 15 coats.

Be sure to take the hose off, drain the water, roll up the hose, and store in a heated location. Nothing worse than going out in single digit weather to discover a section of hose has a chunk of ice and is blocking all the water.

Clearing the Snow:

Ideal ice conditions mean that the conditions on our tubing hill are terrible. We are ok with putting in a bunch more time into clearing the snow off the rink so our guests can have an incredible time screaming down the inner tubing hill.

You want a big rink, so you need some serious snow removal equipment; shoveling would be a ridiculous amount of work. Chris again has pulled through and been on the tractor numerous times to clear off anywhere from an inch to 10 inches of snow. It really doesn’t matter how much snow you have, it must come off the ice! You wait for the storm to pass and then clear off the snow. Ideally, it stays cold and you can put another layer of water on before people are ready to skate.

Ice Skates

With a great rink, it is crucial you have some decent ice skates. Lazy F has been collecting ice skate for years and our inventory has been improving each year. This year we hit the jackpot, scoring 15 pairs of quality skates from one Craigslist ad. Kristy and Jim Grob were awesome in making the transaction in Federal Way and delivering the skates to the camp. Over the years, Paul Ferris in Ellensburg has kept an eye out for skates and donated 5 – 10 really good pairs. Currently, we have 93 pairs of ice, but are always looking for additional good quality skates!

So now, Do It Yourself:

So that is it in a nutshell! Find a good flat spot; put some water down when it is really cold and have fun skating away!

If all this seems daunting to you, come on over to Lazy F Camp and Retreat Center and have some winter fun. The setting is incredible and we also have opportunities for inner tubing and snow shoeing. You can actually come over Sunday, January 31 from 1:00 – 4:00 to enjoy our winter wonderland and enjoy all these activities. Check us out on Facebook or visit our website for more information.