Category Archives: suburbia

Dumbing down playgrounds

I knew it was only a matter of time for this playground in Lincoln! The one in like it in Littleton (Castle in the Trees) is on the block too. And shhh…. there’s one in Salem, NH too….

If you read the recent evaluation of the Castle in the Trees, it talks about there being wood posts larger than 2″x2″ that are too high, and that’s a problem because they are “platforms”. In other words, kids could climb on them.

Maybe the safety experts haven’t seen my little kids playing on the new “dumbed-down” playgrounds of today. They climb ON TOP of pretty much every surface meant to be climbed through. So I am sure those are also surfaces that are being used as platforms that are way too high. Should these new playgrounds be closed too? Some also have low-areas where kids who are tall enough could seriously whack their heads.

Oh well. It’s too bad. Not that I think these particular “old-school” playgrounds were amazing. They are pretty good in some ways, but from a playability standpoint, not the best I’ve seen either. And there are of course some things that are not the safest things ever. But neither is climbing a tree 30 feet up, skiing, bike riding, riding in cars, etc. I let my kids do those things too.

The problem is that I can almost guarantee that what replaces them will be B-O-R-I-N-G. But here’s hoping. I’ve seen some good “new’ playgrounds too.

A separate problem almost all of the playgrounds I’ve been to in the suburban Boston area have is that they are in the middle of nowhere — at a stand-alone park or next to an elementary school not easily accessible to anyone without a car. Sometimes I visit such playgrounds (including the ones in Lincoln, Littleton, and Salem NH) and they are COMPLETELY deserted except for my arriving family. So you know how much fun that is? Approximately zero.

I guess this is just a rant about a bigger issue… suburbia. The best playground I’ve been to with my kids (location: top-secret until another day when I decide to spill the beans) is in a dense neighborhoody part of a town that one could walk to. This same playground is actually “new school” but somehow manages to be pretty fun. It also helps a lot that it is usually PACKED with kids (due partly to it’s location, partly it’s awesomeness.)

OK so here’s my checklist I’d use to rate playgrounds:
– good playground
– good location (near other stuff, walkable)
– good sitting and shade for parents
– well attended
– play surface not made of toxic/smelly crumbled-up rubbery spongy pavement stuff
– some real and decently high good-ole swimgs a plus

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