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She talked about the health and developmental benefits of freer outdoor play, and explained that the playground would look messy but be fenced in. She explained some of the things kids might be able to do and then asked the parents to remember their own childhoods. “I used to go swimming in the Dee, which is one of the most dangerous rivers around.
If my parents had found out, they would have grounded me for life.
In seven hours, aside from Griffiths and the other playworkers, I saw only two adults: Dylan’s nana, who walked him over because he’s only 5, and Steve Hughes, who runs a local fishing-tackle shop and came by to lend some tools. Hughes moved to the neighborhood after the Land was already open, but when he stopped by, I asked how he would have answered that question.
Griffiths started selling local families on the proposed playground in 2006. “When I was a kid, we didn’t have all the rules about health and safety,” he said.
The Land is an “adventure playground,” although that term is maybe a little too reminiscent of theme parks to capture the vibe. K., such playgrounds arose and became popular in the 1940s, as a result of the efforts of Lady Marjory Allen of Hurtwood, a landscape architect and children’s advocate.
Allen was disappointed by what she described in a documentary as “asphalt square” playgrounds with “a few pieces of mechanical equipment.” She wanted to design playgrounds with loose parts that kids could move around and manipulate, to create their own makeshift structures.
There is, however, a frayed rope swing that carries you over the creek and deposits you on the other side, if you can make it that far (otherwise it deposits you in the creek).Claire Griffiths, the manager of the Land, describes her job as “loitering with intent.” Although the playworkers almost never stop the kids from what they’re doing, before the playground had even opened they’d filled binders with “risk benefits assessments” for nearly every activity.(In the two years since it opened, no one has been injured outside of the occasional scraped knee.) Here’s the list of benefits for fire: “It can be a social experience to sit around with friends, make friends, to sing songs to dance around, to stare at, it can be a co-operative experience where everyone has jobs.Occasionally a group knocks down a few pallets—just for the fun of it, or to build some new kind of slide or fort or unnamed structure.Come tomorrow and the Land might have a whole new topography.