My steel rocket playground was of poor quality when I was a kid, but it didn’t matter anyway because all of my friends were out in the woods from the second school was out till when the streetlights came on. Playgrounds were only a small part of our time outside. For most of the weekends, afternoons and evenings, I was up the creek making dams and forts and collecting fossils, or co-opting lawn mowers and rotten deck boards to make go-carts for the Albert Street hill. It was a time of reckless abandon, risk taking, and unsupervised joy. I don’t remember any time when I didn’t have a band-aid stuck to me somewhere. Nature was everywhere; it was in my shoes and my hair, and ground into my scraped knees and elbows.
‘Sustainable playgrounds’ were never supposed to mean gardens of plastic, steel, and fake stone. As with everything that gets out of balance in society, there is a swing back. Natural playgrounds are at the front of that curve. If we aren’t letting our kids get out into nature as often, the least we can do is bring nature to the kids when and where they play; and not sterilized and tidied nature but the real stuff with the dirt, boulders, hills, water, trees, logs, and loose parts. If we want children to get off of the screens and play outside more, we have to make it more interesting!
Adam Bienenstock is an international expert and prolific speaker and educator on the importance of connecting children and communities to nature. The award winning Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds Company designs and builds playgrounds that are completely natural and completely CSA and ASTM compliant. Call or email us today for a consultation. 1-800-306-3319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.