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The Adventure Play Renaissance

Wed, 01/15/2014 - 1:54pm
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1 year ago
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The Adventure Play Renaissance

Did you know that there is an Adventure Play Renaissance happening worldwide right this very minute? Yes! How exciting is that? People everywhere are being inspired and empowered to create new versions of the classic Adventure Playground model: a place for children filled not just with fixed playground equipment, but instead filled with loose parts for construction, trees to climb, water to explore, animals to tend, gardens to grow, fires to cook over, and much much more—all with the support of trained professional “playworkers.” These places are true child habitats where the child’s ideas and inspirations create their worlds and set the parameters for play.

For a variety of reasons, many of today’s children have less free, unstructured time to play with their friends than in previous generations. But adults everywhere are recognizing the need to bring back open-ended play possibilities for their children — and for their children to have the chance to take risks and challenge themselves. Today’s Adventure Playground is one answer to society’s deep need for secure places for children’s free play.

I have been designing playspaces for 22 years and have always loved Adventure Playgrounds (and tour European models whenever I can!). Two years ago I helped start a new Adventure Playground at The Ithaca Children’s Garden in Ithaca, NY called The Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone. The place was an instant hit and is incredibly popular with local families, schools, after-school programs, and camps.

It is amazing to watch and makes me super excited to have this column to share stories, successes, and challenges of providing these types of play opportunities for children. It will be fun and I’ll show you examples of what we’re doing at the Anarchy Zone as well as what’s happening at our international inspirations!

But that’s not all....I’ll also talk about liability and safety issues, playworkers and the field of playwork, using loose parts for play, risk-benefit analyzing, and much more...including how schools, parks, and even childcare centers are incorporating these ideas into their children’s play opportunities.

It’s a new day in the playground world, folks. There’s a call for the wild and an answer echoing wildly back. The Adventure Play Renaissance — it’s happening. Yeah!

The Anarchy Zone

Rusty Keeler is an artist and play designer living among the hills and woods outside Ithaca, NY. Rusty worked as a playground equipment designer for BigToys in Olympia, WA and...

There is 1 Comment
Frode Svane's picture

An "Adventure Playground" or "Building Playground" is a place where children have access to materials and tools, and where groups of children, under adult educational leadership, are building different types of cabins/huts, or other constructions, with different kinds of materials. The process consists of construction, alteration and demolition, - each activity for certain agreed periods. It is common with organized demolition to allow new groups of children to establish with new projects. The building PROCESS is likewise important as the result. But the products is also very often used as frameworks for different types of roleplay, - both already during the process, and later on.

I do not think I have to explain this for you, - however: PARTICIPATION, INVOLVEMENT AND INFLUENCE are even more important for children and youth growing up in huge cities, both in the centres and in the suburbs.

Adventure Play & City Farms (16 FaceBook Photo Albums, 9 FaceBook Notes/Articles/Videos)

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