When I was a kid, my favorite piece of playground equipment was the Giant Strides. Picture a pole with chains dangling from the top. At kid height, the chains had handles. We would grab these handles and run around the pole jumping as high as we could. It felt like we were flying. The challenges were not to hit other kids or the pole. As an adult, I see how dangerous Giant Strides were and understand why they’re no longer available.
This summer a new playground opened in the park near my house. It has all kinds of nifty areas – sandbox, rock wall, music box, puzzles, puppet stage, numerous slides, ladders and other climbing areas.
One of its most unusual features is that it’s tied to an app – it’s a “smart” playground.
Parents are directed to encourage their children to play outside by having them capture invisible bots hiding in various areas of the playground. Once captured, the child brings the bot to the parent who opens a cage into which the fictional creature is deposited. He/she then releases the bot back into the wild by tickling, washing or doing some other activity as directed by the app.
Apparently, the belief is that kids won’t play unless they have encouragement from an electronic device. I found this somewhat ironic given the varied activities available in the playground. Which brings me back to my fond memories of the Giant Strides. Imagination doesn’t need batteries, playgrounds don’t need to be “smart” to be fun and kids are fully capable of getting hurt the old fashioned way. Here’s to “stupid” bumps and bruises that create wonderful memories for a lifetime.
May the farce be with you!