Get Back on the Playground!

Did you ever wonder how you went from the kid who couldn’t sit still, to the adult who can’t get moving?

I asked myself this recently when I took my 3-year-old daughter to the playground at a fast food restaurant. She loves playgrounds and so do I. At an almost frantic pace, she began to scale every inch of the equipment, and I surveyed the scene around me. What I saw were kids playing and parents either trying to wrangle their kids off the playground, or get their little ones to sit still and finish their food before they hit the playground. None of the children were sitting in a chair watching the action. They were either taking part in it or itching to. Some kids are shy and timid, of course, but the overwhelming instinct of children is to jump in and participate in any way possible, even at the expense of fueling their bodies. They seem to have no fear of looking weird or not fitting in, especially the youngest of them.

So what happened to us adults? When did we become afraid? When did we shut off the kid in us and start to think too much? When did we decide we had to grow up?

One of my favorite professors in college taught directing. An actor himself, he remarked one day that he hoped he’d never grow up, because your childlike instincts are what keep the joy and wonder in your work. That sense of play and make-believe is natural to any good actor and we’d better not lose it, he said. For actors, childishness is a best friend. Growing up is dangerous. It robs us of our freedom and the determination not to miss anything. It makes us fearful and doubtful and insecure. It makes us see new people as strangers instead of potential friends. Most importantly, it keeps us from living to our full potential.

So what happened to us? I believe it was something called expectations — more specifically, other people’s expectations of us. When we’re little, from birth to 3 or 4-years old, our only care in life is to have fun. Our only job is to be lovable and to love. Everything else is just play. What could be better? But then, as we get older, we start to have expectations put on us. We have to make our bed, we have to go to school, we have to finish our homework, wash the car, get a job, etc., etc. Then we get older and have our own families, career, responsibilities and debts. Not to mention the peer pressures that drive us to have the house or the car or the gadgets that make the best impression. Pretty soon our own sense of daring and wonder is lost in what we’re “supposed to be.”

Worrying about what we’re supposed to be suppresses the child in us, who has no doubt that his or her purpose on the planet is to have fun. Who said you couldn’t live your entire life with that beautiful energy of daring and joy? Growing up shouldn’t mean giving up our purest spirit. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be controlled by our fear of not living up to other people’s expectations.

Of course this doesn’t mean you should ditch your commitments and responsibilities in favor of doing whatever feels good in the moment. What I’m encouraging you to do instead is to make choices that bring you joy and fulfillment. Choose a career that fills your soul as well as your wallet. Love your family and those around you and cherish all the relationships in your life. And remember to live life on your own terms. Live your own truth. When other people’s expectations become the master of the choices you make, you give away the power to determine your own happiness.

A fellow named Gil Bailie once said, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Make it your mission in life to fully come alive. You and the world will be better for it.

Choosing the right playground for Schools, Churches, Parks and Communities

It is important that you know a few things about your needs before we get started. It is a buyer’s market so there are many different options when looking for a new playground. First, you must have an idea of the age group that the playground must be tailored to. Standard age groups are 2-7, 2-12, 2-5, 5-12, and 8-up. Next you must decide on the area where your playground will occupy, what are the dimensions of the space? And finally, what is your budget for your playground project? Keep in mind that you will have installation and playground safety surfacing as an expense by the time your project is complete.

So on to the entertaining part deciding on a design. There are many different pre-designed units that are available to manufacture but more than 80% of people choose to customize their playground. You can start with a simple idea that fills the limits of your project area-then add a slide here and a climber there, and the next thing you know, you’ve created everything that you could ask for in a playground.

It is also important to note that the size of the playground needs to accommodate the number of children that are expected to be playing on it at any given time. You will find that a newer playground-with a good design-will attract a lot of attention, and it would be a shame to have overcrowding on a structure that is likely to become a safety hazard. Overall, you will want to make sure that the playground equipment has at least the basics (climbers, slides etc.). If you have no idea where to start you might also find it useful to ask the kids what they would like. Have them all create drawings of their “dream playground,” then you’ll know that the final design you choose is based off the ideas of what the children want. After all, the children are the ones that will be using the playground equipment the most – hopefully.

Once you have decided on a design for the playground equipment you will want to make sure that you get an estimate which includes the cost, freight, tax and installation (if needed). The idea is to get all of your possible expenses laid out on paper so you will know the amount of funds you’ll need to buy the structure and have it installed. It is best not to do this in reverse, which would be to get the funds first and then pinch pennies to spend no more or no less than the budget provides. In some cases this is unavoidable but with enough planning, you can arrange to raise the money that you may not have to buy the playground that your community needs.

Playgrounds are very expensive but when everything is complete you will create an environment for children where they will have happy memories which will contribute to their well-being now and later in life.

Outdoor Playground Equipment

Children’s playgrounds have come a long way from just swing sets and monkey bars. Modern playgrounds feature things like rock climbing walls, wave slides, crawl tunnels, not to mention steering wheels and telescopes. Playground creators have thought of everything to entertain and satisfy a child’s curiosity.

One of the greatest things of playgrounds is the developmental benefits they offer children. Playgrounds allow children to play freely, which helps mental and emotional development. When children are allowed free play in a structured environment like a playground, they are able to use their imagination and be spontaneous, which is an essential tool for developing a strong sense of well being.

Parents and adults can feel comfortable about the safety of playground sets. Commercial playground sets must pass a test of industry standards in order to be put on the market. Once often a hot topic, the safety of playgrounds is not so much an issue these days. Playgrounds sold now use minimal steel work in place of soft plastic, rubber, and nylon ropes. Plastic posts and decking keep the playground from rotting or splintering. These types of playground sets last considerably longer and require less maintenance than older steel structure models.

Here are some things to consider when buying playground equipment. First, how many children will be using the playground. Playgrounds vary greatly in size and number of components. How old will the children be who are using the playground? You may have to ensure that your playground is in compliance with the guidelines of ADA accessibility. Also important to keep in mind is where you are going to put the playground. Measure off an area and make sure the ground is level.

The Right Commercial Playground Equipment

Playgrounds provide not only recreation and a place for kids to get a fun workout, they also stimulate their imagination, promote agility, dexterity, balance and concentration. But playgrounds need proper equipment to enable children to get the most out of play time.

Commercial playground equipment is installed in schools, public playgrounds, day care centers and other places where many children gather. There are several things to be considered when selecting commercial playground equipment: the kind of material used, the durability and strength of the material, the number of attachments in the equipment, the safety aspects, the type of activities to be included in the equipment; provision of side amenities like benches, tables, bike racks or litter bins.

A unique feature of commercial playground equipment is that it is made for children of all ages, so it has to be strong and made of durable materials. Commercial playground equipment can also be custom designed to suit specific requirements like adjustable height, attractive colors to choose from, and budgets.

There are questions to ask before installing commercial playground equipment such as: can it accommodate many children at a time? It is durable against rough weather? Is there enough room for the equipment? Is the surface under the equipment safe and resilient? Is there enough space between the pieces of the equipment? Is the equipment suitable for the child? Does it seem risky or unsafe in any way? Are there any objects that are protruding out or those that may cause strangulation or cause the child to trip or fall? Is it easy to maintain? Is it environment friendly? Is there provision for children with special disabilities? Manufacturers are also designing environment friendly equipment to make it more durable as well as ecologically safe.

Also to be considered are the price, shipping details, assembly instructions and post-sales service. The Internet is a very good source for finding comprehensive information about playground equipment. There are several sites of manufacturers that would help you to locate the best equipment and compare prices.

Recent Project

[one_half]The Rocky Top combines a fitness course with the best of a traditional play structure, including the NEW bubble wall climber. This structure will entertain and challenge kids with it’s 8 climbing events and 3 slides.[/one_half]

[one_half]This was a fun and exciting build for us.  It wasn’t just the kids that were keeping us going but it was also the teachers.  Many of whom we knew because this school was so close to home.  Good times![/one_half]