Sweet Home Sioux Falls

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Tag: catfishbay

GO Camp On Aqua! 1,2,3, Let’s Go Ski!

I am finally feeling refreshed after directing a week-long summer camp for 8-13 year olds at Catfishbay last week. Even though the combination of heat, sun, 96 children and supervising an overnight can have you a little delirious after day five, it is one of my favorite weeks of the year and I find myself wondering what my campers are doing each day since the camp has ended.

Camp on Aqua has been teaching kids to waterski since 2000. In recent years the camp has sold out by early spring, prompting changes to allow a record number of campers to get up on the water. There are always one or two kids that are too afraid to try skiing, despite our best efforts, but this year every child that tried skiing either got up on the boom (see below for pictures) or behind the boat. In my opinion, I want to say this was the most successful skiing year yet. Kids also enjoyed fishing, tubing at Wall Lake, canoeing, a water safety class and more. To see everything the camp has to offer, click here.


[The founders of Catfishbay and Camp on Aqua, Michelle and Jim Bruns posing for a picture at the beginning of the week. The volunteer opportunities, fun times for kids and second family these two have created deserve all the recognition in the world and are blessings to our Sioux Falls community.]  


[Billy Bruns, an experienced skier, running the ski board on “the boom”. The skis are attached to each other and also attached to the boom by rope. This ensures the skis are always facing forward and more stable than free standing skis.]


[Once the child is stable, Billy can let go of the skis and control how tight they are held to the boom.]


[Catfishbay’s invention ‘the ski bar’ being used by skiers Tanner and Tony. This eliminates the hassle and time of tangled ropes.]


[Two side-skiers accompanying a camper. Each group of kids had two 2 1/2 hour session of skiing during the week.]


[Kids enjoying the water mat while skiing is going on in the background. With 8 groups of kids, multiple activities were always going on at once.]


CatfishBay, the Greatest Show on H2O, started shows on Memorial Day and will continue every Friday night at 7 p.m. through Labor Day. For more information about the show, click here. 

If you or your child would like to learn how to waterski, find me on Facebook or shoot me a text [261.8396].  I would LOVE to share my passion with you and see you having fun on the water. Catfishbay is a special and unique place in Sioux Falls. If you would like to know how to get involved or discount tickets, please contact me.


This post is dedicated to the mother of Catfishbay, Eloa Bruns, who passed away during camp week. I hope I treated the campers with half the love and care she gave to all of us skiers over the years.  <3

The Greatest Show on H2O

Catfish Bay is so much more than a water ski show.  In 2007, when the team debuted its new mission of “building youth, strengthening families, and creating leaders with the Greatest Show on H20”, I thought to my teenage self at the time, “that’s kind of cheesy, but our team gets new wetsuits and signs, so that’s cool”.

After many years on the team, and returning as an adult after a few year hiatus, I now whole-heartedly support and believe in this mission. I have witnessed and benefitted from life-long friendships created on this team, watched kids find a place to finally fit in and mature, and participated with dozens of others in multiple volunteer opportunities, all while making it to Friday night to put on an awesome ski show for the people of Sioux Falls.

This small man-made lake is immeasurably special to countless people. I would love to see you at a show not only to support my hard work and passion for water-skiing as a sport, but to also support the mission of Catfish Bay so it is here for many years to come.  This place changes lives and gives back to the community. We are blessed to have such a place here in Sioux Falls thanks to the Jim Bruns family.


To learn more about the bay, I sat down with Jim, owner and founder of Catfish Bay, at one of our last practices for the 2016 season this week:

How did your passion for water skiing turn in to Catfish Bay?

During the summer of 1985 Jim joined a small group of skiers called the Sioux Falls Water Ski Club at Wall Lake. After that first year, their boat met an untimely end, and while Jim succeeded in being the top fundraiser to replace it (not an easy task at 15-years-old), it was not enough to save the team. Jim went on to ski in shows in the Black Hills, Shakopee, and Sea World before returning to South Dakota where he lived on Lake Campell and attended classes at SDSU. This is where the idea of having his own water ski team was born. After practices at Beaver Lake and Lake Madison with a handful of skiers in the summer of 1992 proved to be time-consuming and difficult, Jim saw a contractor pumping water that would soon turn in to a lake during the reconstruction of the I-90 bridge. With a handshake, Jim bought the current location of Catfish Bay as a college student and hosted his first ski show the summer of 1994.  It is another story for another day to tell of the struggles, hard work, dedication and passion Jim possessed during these years and since to make Catfish Bay what it is today.



[Ballet Line – All us girls are on a single ski with the rope on our left foot]

How does Catfish Bay add to the Sioux Falls community?

Catfish Bay adds quality of life to Sioux Falls. We are a family-friendly activity that is a short drive for anyone living in Sioux Falls that runs all summer. Having a water ski show in town is extremely unique, as most communities throughout the country do not have one. Catfish Bay has also provided the opportunity for dozens of our team members to water ski professionally at places such a Sea World, Lego Land, and other locations all around the world.



[Barefoot skiing on a Saturday morning]

What do you wish more people in Sioux Falls knew about Catfish Bay?

Jim wishes more people made a habit of attending a show every year. We receive all the positive feedback in the world on our shows, but the general consensus while meeting people in town, is that it’s been a number of years since they’ve been to a show. We truly put on a quality show with new acts every year that we would love to share with the amazing and growing community of Sioux Falls.

How does Catfish Bay compare to other team sports?

Like other sports, being apart of Catfish Bay requires skill, teamwork and practice to put on a good show. What makes water skiing unique, is that a five-year-old and fifty-year-old can participate on the same team. And no matter your age, you can learn the skills to be apart of the team.



[Pyramid practice back in 2009]

What are your hopes for Catfish Bay in the future?

The main vision for Catfish Bay is what it’s been for many years and what it will continue to be, a place where people want to be, see and ski. It would also be a dream to have sold out shows and a waiting list for volunteers and skiers.


As a skier I sell discounted tickets. If you would like to take your family or would like to know more about the team, give me a call or text at 605.261.8396.


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