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Adventure Playground- Junkyard or Amazing Learning Environment?

TOPICS | Parenting | Education Posted Monday, May 13, 2013 (929 views)

Looking for an unique playground or playground concept where your child will have the time of their life, and may or may not walk away with tetanus. Look no further than the Adventure Playground in Berkeley, California. At this amazing playground, your child can barter for a saw or hammer by trading in nails, or splinters. With light supervision, your child will build and add on to structures where other children will climb high into the air. Sound dangerous, not really. The park has actually fewer accidents per visits than a typical playground. 

The Adventure Playground at the Berkeley Marina was opened in 1979. It is a wonderfully unique outdoor facility where staff encourage children to play and build creatively. Come climb on the many unusual kid designed and built forts, boats, and towers. Ride the zip line or hammer, saw, and paint. By providing these low risk activities Adventure Playground creates opportunities for children to learn cooperation, meet physical challenges and gain self confidence. Pictures of a fort building project. The concept for Adventure Playgrounds originated in Europe after World War II, where a playground designer studied children playing in the "normal" asphalt and cement playgrounds. He found that they preferred playing in dirt and lumber from the post war rubble. He realized that children had the most fun designing and building their own equipment and manipulating their environment. The formula for Adventure Playgrounds includes Earth, fire, water, and lots of creative materials.

The playground is in constant change as kids tear down, and build new structures daily. In this unique environment, children will test their DIY skills and confidence,  as they take an open ended approach to play. Children 6 years of age and under are required to have parental guidance, while 7 and older can be left for up to three hours when parents sign a liability waiver.

Looking at reviews of the playground you will see many parents are split on the concept.  This parent totally sums up the experience with her short review:

Mad Max + Sanford & Son + Survivor + a mild Lord of the Flies = Adventure Playground.

Meant for older kids, at least 7 years and up, this is what I witnessed:
* Kids running around with saws (!!!)
* A kid who dropped a hammer from a treehouse - luckily no one was below
* A young boy dismantling a play structure with a hammer
* A girl who face planted in a dirt mound after using the zipline

However on the other side I saw:
* No electronics! No one glued to their DS, Nintendo or anything.
* Lots of running, swinging, climbing, exploring
* Kids handling tools for the first time, learning how to work with wood
* Paint! Kids encouraged to paint anything they wanted; grafitti as art
* Working cooperatively with other kids, trying to construct sculptures, a bench, whatever you wanted with scrap wood
* Freedom to be kids - no one telling them NOT to do something


For more information on the Adventure Playground visit http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/adventureplayground/

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