Nicole Beinstein Strait is the recent co-author with George Stranahan of Phlogs: journey to the heart of the human predicament. She lives in Redstone, CO with her husband and business partner (Strait Consulting LLC), and their two children. She blogs for OutdoorBabyNetwork.
My husband just finished five 14-hour days of building our local elementary school’s playground in Carbondale, Colorado. It was a volunteer effort spearheaded by moms and designed by children, because the school district can’t afford to pay for all the necessary labor. And yet, this is the way playgrounds should be constructed in any economy, with the time and sweat equity of its recipient families.
But there’s an even better way to create a playground, and that’s to not build one at all, but to use nature as a jungle gym. Our camping trip last month to Moab, Utah illustrated this point exquisitely. Right behind our spot, orange and red humps lent themselves to all the children and young-at-hearts in the neighborhood, and to the lizards they love to chase.
Once we set up camp, we didn’t have to go very far for entertainment; in fact the lazy grown-ups hardly had to leave our chairs. We watched the little girls and boys run up and down and around, inside crevices, sneakers gripping the sides of ragged rocks, imagining themselves as trekkers discovering new lands, high above the ruling world, looking below at human miniatures, yelling and giggling and also whispering, hearing for their echoes, and singing with the wind.
I wish playground companies could develop playgrounds as efficient and perfect as the ones the earth has already provided for us, but I am grateful anyway that schools and families are finding ways for kids to explore outdoors as education budgets are cut deeper than any water erosion ever could.
You can read more about the efforts to provide children a safe and enjoyable place to play here. And another big thanks to our friends at OutdoorBabyNetwork. We all love the outdoors and its wonderful that they’re willing to share their bloggers with us to provide a family perspective.
If you’d like to share your perspective on anything outdoor or health and fitness related, please email me at email@example.com