I was so inspired by the Adventure Playgrounds I saw in London that I continue to learn as much about them as I can.
There are about 1,000 Adventure Playgrounds in the world. Most of them are in Europe. Germany has the most with 400.
There are two in the United States: one in Berkeley near the Marina, and one in Huntington Beach.
One weekend I took a jaunt to the Berkeley Adventure Playground for a look-see. As usual, I heard it before I saw it. Children laughing, hammers pounding, music wafting. And when I got there it looked just like… an Adventure Playground! There were piles of lumber and higgledy-piggledy structures that children were hammering and painting on. There was a zip line that let children fly through the air (just a couple of feet off the ground) before landing (crashing) into a pile of sand. There were some broken down pianos that kids were banging on and strumming (yes they were that broken down). There was a hill bordered with old tires than kids rolled down in hand-me-down mini-jeeps. There was a garden area, a painting area, a shop to get hammers and nails (you had to turn in three old nails to get one), and a quiet area. Kids and parents alike were having a blast playing.
And that’s what the difference was. There were parents! In the UK, Adventure Playgrounds are free and pretty much for kids alone – with a few adults as facilitators (or playworkers as they are called there). At Berkeley, use of the playground was free for children as long as an adult was with them. If a child was dropped off alone, there was a per-hour charge.
No matter, it was wonderful to see an Adventure Playground on US soil – parents or not! Now all we need to do is build a few in Sacramento! Where would you build an Adventure Playground?