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"Adventure Playground"??"Berkeley's Take on Kid Play






Kids wait their turn on the ever popular zipline trolley. Alternative playgrounds, first called junk playgrounds, became a reality when Danish landscape architect and park creator D.T. Sorensen saw kids enjoyed playing amidst WWII rubble more than at conventional playgrounds.


Berkeley has long marched to its own beat, so it's no wonder that Berkeley Marina Park was not specified by a landscape architect. The 27-year-old alternative playground lets kids design their own play structures. Kids can be seen hammering, sawing or moving about various materials. Forts, a "trolley," spider webs of ropes, a metal-hooded bike contraption and other nonconventional play structures have been designed and built. Oh the horror!




It's fair to say Adventure Playground has unique equipment.


Parents are required to supervise youngsters, but children who have reached the venerable age of seven may only be left for up to three hours if their parents sign a liability waiver. The playground is staffed by supervisors with "carpentry or child care experience." The "playworkers" mediate design/construction disputes, verify the soundness of the equipment and make sure a youngster doesn't nail his thumb to a post.

Tools just aren't handed out. If a child wants a hammer, for instance, the little one is required to pick up some trash, or potential hazardous objects (nails) lying around.

It's reported there are some 1,000 alternative playgrounds in Europe, but only two in the U.S., the Berkeley playground and one in "Surf City," aka Huntington Beach, Calif.


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December 8, 2019, 8:35 am PDT

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