Spurred by a comment in the [chat] I recalled how many cool and creative playgrounds there were in and around my town when I was growing up. Almost all of them were unique endevours, mostly made of wood beams, that offered a plethora of opportunities for climbing and jumping, sliding and swinging. Some evoked images of log forts or even giant wooden teepees. Many had custom built slides with humps and curves. They were structures that, as a kid, I couldn't wait to explore. Only a few places sported the steel modular set with the "four steps up, side, swing and pole" combo that seems to dominate today.
All these cool playgrounds seem to have been dissapearing of late; to be replaced with the same steel tube set up described above. I, and I'm sure no few of you all, deem this a sad state of affairs. I know that the litigiousness of Americans is mostly to blame. Kids must now only run around in a padded universe with no chance of splinters and a skinned knee may be deemed a sueable incident.
I mourn the loss of those great places where I spent hours playing tag, or being a pirate or avoiding the hot lava and I ask if any of you have any similarly great places to share. I regret that it never occcured to me to take pictures of the playground equipment of my youth, but it's too late now. I can tender this description and pics that I posted in the [chat] awhile back from a Japanese school playground where the liability laws are somwhat different.
Additionally I would like to hear ideas on what you think would make a truly awesome playground and perhaps how to set up one that is cool without running afoul of the lawyers.
OK, so first off the school has about two acres of woods adjacent to the soccer field. Fir, pine and birch up to about 40 ft tall. The underbrush is all short bamboo (three-four feet tall). A not too steep ravine (about 8 feet deep) with a small stream at the bottom runs through the middle of it and trails crisscross the whole thing.
Now, this by itself would be a pretty awesome place for tag and hide-an-seek or snowball tag which they are playing today. Many a paintball course would kill to have a layout like this. But that's not all.
There are also many swings, tire and conventional, scattered throughout. This includes a large platform swing you could fit five adults on no problem. Multiple log bridges of varying thickness cross the ravine, some with a handrail, some without. There is also a big, knotted rope to swing across on. A 40 ft long zipline also crosses the ravine at an angle from one of several platforms built up in the trees. Ah yes, the trees.
Over about 1/3 of the total area all the trees have been connected with thick ropes. Each tree is connected to each nearby tree with stout ropes starting four feet off the ground and proceeding at four foot intervals up to 30 feet or so. So , think of a 30ft high, half acre jungle gym. Large logs are also arranged like ramps up into the higher levels of the trees and the multiple platforms.
So if you wanted to play ninjas for example you could easily cross from one side to the other without once touching the ground or you could creep through the bamboo similarly undetected, unless the guy in the trees above you spots you and nails you with a shurukin, I mean snowball.
The kids just swarmed up into the trees like monkeys, boys and girls alike.
Yes,... yes, I agree. It's totally unfair that sober you gets into trouble for things that drunk you did.