Reeling through the Years II – Somewhere over the Rainbow

Thanks to PlayGroundology’s 500+ subscribers and readers from over 140 countries, the blog has clocked nearly 600,000 page views since January 2010. I had no idea at the outset how it would all play out. It’s a great ongoing adventure and journey of discovery.

This hobby, morphed into an unpaid vocation of sorts, has opened so many doors. I meet play ambassadors from around the world and hear from readers on how they are inspired by specific posts. Most of these encounters take place online but it’s been a real treat to meet some folks in person in Glasgow, Toronto, San Diego and right here at home in Halifax.

There are just so many inspiring stories about play and kids. There is also a lot of important advocacy work to be done to ensure all kids have an opportunity to play. As PlayGroundology gears up for its ninth year, we’ll be sharing some of our milestone stories with you throughout the month of January. I hope you enjoy this second installment.

Kids at Play – flickr Photo Gallery – July 29, 2011

Flickr is a great source of visuals for play. This is one of the earlier flickr galleries I put together. There have been over 2,000 views but I think the quality of the photos of kids from around the world playing is very evocative and well worth a look. Let me know what you think if you click on through.

All told I’ve curated 35 galleries. Among them is Swedish Aesthetic which was picked up and promoted by the flickr blog. There is really nothing quite as marvellous as a fine shot of a kid at play.

The Playground Paradise Principle – Malmö, Sweden – February 6, 2012

It’s not everyday that you’re going to see a rainbow slide. Truly they should be de rigueur wherever small kids gather. This Swedish city has embraced the value of play and has become a bit of a destination for families from other parts of the continent. The municipal government even offers study tours of their play spaces that also includes pitches for the locally invented puckelball.

Paradise might be a bit of a stretch but Malmö, Sweden is quite simply playgroundalicious. It’s the kind of place that would inspire Mary Poppins to gather her young charges around her and umbrella them off to adventure – up through the atmosphere/ up where the air is clear/ let’s all/ go to Malmö.

So if anyone ever has spare airline tickets to Malmö don’t forget to give me call. Copenhagen would be fine too, I’d just take a drive across the Oresund bridge…

Sir Ken of TEDalot on Play and Learning – May 6, 2012

British education reformer Sir Ken Robinson’s TedTalks have racked up millions of views. He is a great storyteller who is passionate about his subject matter and audience. I was lucky enough to see him in person at an event in Halifax several years back and used it as an opportunity to reach out and ask about play.

There are three key terms when we come to think about play. The first is imagination, the second is creativity and the third is innovation.

Sir Ken warmed to the play topic and waxed on for about 5 minutes which you can read about here.

The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging – June 28, 2012

When was the last time you had a swing? It’s been too long for me. I really must remedy that.

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. Swings are all grace and simplicity as they trace their airy arcs. In downward sweeps there is the tickling acceleration of free fall. Then as the pendulum tracks the outer bounds of its trajectory, the weighty hand of gravity pulls down.

A couple of more installments coming your way over the coming weeks.

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Reeling Through The Years

PlayGroundology’s first eight years have gone by in a flash. By the numbers, it’s over 350 posts, 500+ subscribers and closing in on 600,000 site visits from readers in over 140 countries. It appears that the blog is hitting some of the right notes in its writing about play.

This hobby, morphed into an unpaid vocation of sorts, has opened so many doors. I meet play ambassadors from around the world and hear from readers on how they are inspired by specific posts. Most of these encounters take place online but it’s been a real treat to meet some folks in person in Glasgow, Toronto, San Diego and right here at home in Halifax.

There are just so many inspiring stories about play and kids. There is also a lot of important advocacy work to be done to ensure all kids have an opportunity to play. As PlayGroundology gears up for its ninth year, we’ll be sharing some of our milestone stories with you throughout the month of January. I hope you enjoy this first installment.

Manhattan’s Bronze Guy – January 15, 2010

When I first saw photos of Tom Otterness’ Playground, it made me feel like there could be a place for a blog that would look at playgrounds around the world. I remember getting encouragement from two playground blogger friends in New Jersey and California when I floated this as being the first post for a new blog. A couple of weeks later, my New Jersey friend went and checked it out…

This particular piece of sculptural art cum play is representative of exciting, out of the box work that is taking place in pockets in a variety of locations around the globe. One of the most striking aspects for me about this piece, aside from the sticker price, is the scale – wow!!

Tom Otterness was a great interview – open and very giving. I’ve found this to be the case with all the play people I’ve interviewed. He was also my introduction to the symbiotic relationship between art and play, a correlation that can produce powerfully fun elixirs for kids. If you look at the body of Tom’s work, there is a notable playful quality. Following Playground he created Big Girl.

Click Manhattan’s Bronze Guy to read PlayGroundology’s first post.

Go Tell It On The Mountain Montreal’s Salamander Playground – August 21 2010

This day brings back so many memories – mostly sweet but one that was a little scary and still gives me the chills. It was the first PlayGroundology road trip from my son Noah and I.

We were hanging out in Sorel, Quebec with my in-laws and went for a day trip into the city to check this new spot on the Mountain. It was HOT and we did a lot of running around. At four-years-old, Noah had great reserves of energy. After he put the ‘his size’ play stuff through its paces and scampered about the water fountain (that’s our lad in the tie-die shirt in the video near the end of the Go Tell It On The Mountain post), we went down to street level to a weekly drumming event.

Noah got a little African drum and let the beat course through him. But it was too much, he got too hot and was sick on the way back to the car. I was afraid.

Everything turned out fine. We listened to the World Cup final as we got closer to Sorel. Salamander Playground was a great spot to spend the afternoon, a lot of European sensibilities in the equipment – a first time seeing this type of installation for me. Also not to miss here is Georges Dansereau’s tiled art work in celebration of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (photos).

Click Go Tell It On The Mountain Montreal’s Salamander Playground.

In Montreal The Swings Are Alive With The Sound Of Music – May 11, 2011

Yes, there is a bit of a love affair with Montreal. We do like to visit Mélanie’s home and I like to get into the city to see friends and check out play stuff. It is a playful city for kids and adults alike. Montreal playground trivia – every playground has at least one water fountain – brilliant!

These musical swings created a sensation in Montreal and across the internet. The idea has now been exported to the US and with any luck just might come to a city near you. I’m hoping that Halifax might sign on – what a beautiful installation for our downtown waterfront. It’s been a hit year after year in Montreal. Sadly the installation has never coincided with one of our visits. Thanks to one of my dearest friends Moussa for flagging this to me back in 2011, the inaugural year which we missed by just a few days!!

Bravo to Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat who created these tuneful swings that make music together and have created smile moments for so many…

Click In Montreal The Swings Are Alive With The Sound Of Music.

Seven Up! Meets Adventure Playground – November 26, 2011

This is the post from this quartet that I’m tempted to say the most about but will say the least. Take a peek to view the video from Seven Up! It is a clip from the introductory episode from 1964 of this acclaimed documentary and brings the kids together at an Adventure Playground in London at the same time period as this Donne Buck photo taken at Notting Hill Adventure Playground. At 15,000+ views, it’s the most popular video that PlayGroundology has posted.

Out of all the poking about I’ve done into this world of play, it’s adventure playgrounds that really bring the glimmer to my eye. I have yet to actually visit one, with the exception of Baltic Street Adventure Playground in Glasgow that was in development when I got a tour by Assemble a couple of years back.

Click Seven Up! Meets Adventure Playground.

Four blasts from the past – two items for my bucket list, Montreal’s musical swings and a full functioning adventure playground visit.

Play Words from Canadian Press

On occasion, I get contacted by members of the press interested in reporting on some aspect of play. It’s always an exciting opportunity to contribute to a broader public conversation.

As a matter of course, I do my homework, prepare background info, offer other contacts and, whenever possible, provide some insights related to the particular perspective the journalist is researching. Back in the day when I was a freelancer for daily newspapers and CBC Radio, one of the biggest recurring challenges I encountered was paring down information-loaded interviews from several sources into the story to be filed.

Hats off to Canadian Press journalist Linda Givetash who filed a story that has appeared in media outlets across the country. You can read her piece, which speaks to the changing face of playscapes in Canadian cities, by clicking here or on the image below.

Thanks to Canadian Architect, the article got some additional play online including the Twitterverse ⚡️

How does the media in your community, or country report on play? Do the articles they write, or broadcast help further the public conversation?

In 2018, here’s toasting to increased media interest in issues related to play, childhood health, development and safety and the linkages between risk and resilience.

Photo – Grandpapa Raymond’s old school – Sorel, Québec.

Twitter Moment photo of plane and control tower in Toronto’s Downsview Park sourced from Earthscape.

Urban Play Space

There’s a place in the centre of Ottawa that just screams play to me. It’s like an invitation to make believe, to climb, jump, lounge and generally have fun.

It’s not designated as a play space but does that really matter? There is a truly inside out aesthetic going on here with what is in fact a public art installation. Let’s not forget that public art frequently doubles as venues for kids to have some fun – to whit hometown Halifax’s The Wave….

Here in Canada’s capital, in a downtown pedestrian courtyard The Living Room by UrbanKeios livens up the sight and the smile lines within a quadrant of government buildings.

Over the years, I’ve dropped by to revel in the lightness, the levity of the piece in these oh so official and serious environs. There are law courts and offices for the City of Ottawa, who commissioned the work, and less than ten minutes away on foot are Canada’s Parliament buildings.

Now I wouldn’t necessarily put this small green space surrounded by brick and mortar and located on top of an underground parking garage in the category of a destination play place. But it is a bit of an oasis, a space that is worth a pause on a walking route and a few moments for young ones to run around and amuse themselves within this incongruous setting. What great opportunities for boys and girls to play house in the great outdoors.

I still enjoy strolling over when I’m in Ottawa. Over the years, I’ve walked through the door, reclined in the chairs, looked out the window and tried in vain to tune in a channel on the industrial looking vintage TV. It’s like a theatre set and takes me back several decades to an Ionesco play I appeared in – Jacques ou La Soumission – L’avenir est dans les œufs. It’s just the kind of farfelu that I like.

In all my visits though, I have yet to see kids playing here. I know they must – our timing has just not coincided. Let’s hear it for public spaces that unintentionally lend themselves to play, a wonderful happenstance! If you have similar examples in your community, drop a line to PlayGroundology we’d love to hear from you…

High and Dry – No Anchor Required

A lazy wash of waves runs up and down the beach. Colliding rocks tumble from water’s push and pull, their rattling sound like a soft whisper. Sprays of seaweed are drying in the sun – white, brown and yellow. Other treasures are awaiting discovery – sand dollars with their elliptical etchings, whitewashed shells and driftwood sculpted by the sea.

We are alone on the shore walking unhurriedly with no real destination. A breeze from the Gulf of St. Lawrence whisks up sand flurries that dance briefly across the ground’s surface. The kids are in their element skirting the water, toes in, toes out, fingers, digging in packed sand, prying out shimmery rocks. A wooden, sea-cured pole measuring nearly eight feet in length catches their attention. It’s enlisted as an accessory that they drag behind them tracing a sinuous line recording their progress.

Up ahead along the curve of Shallow Bay in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park, a form is taking shape. A tall pole stretches skyward with other bits of wood scattered about its base. One of our kids gives a whoop and runs over to explore. A few steps closer and we are able to make it out. There’s a skinny mast, a well angled bowsprit thrust outward to the sea, a deck and back aft an oversized rudder. It’s a minimalist driftwood sketch of a boat that some kind souls have created, a surprise installation beckoning to the kids to jump aboard.

They each have a go at navigating the bowsprit climbing, or shinnying up the incline.

The full body extension shinny gives them the appearance of living figureheads adorning the HMS Driftwood.

The smooth, uneven spars make balancing on the deck precarious. The crew moves gingerly as they try to find their sea legs.

Is it a sloop, a pirate ship, a catamaran, a yacht? The naming of it is not important. Each child imagines his or her own world. How long will this natural piece, so in tune with its surroundings, last? Wherever we live we can benefit from more of these simple, breathtaking wonders that engage, inspire and invoke play.

Are there temporary playscapes in public spaces within your community – what do they look like, how are they used?

CanadaPlays, eh?

Ed’s note: Looking forward to see what priroties evolve from the IPA triennial summit. It’s a great boost for play in Canada to have Calgary hosting the event. It will help sustain recent activities and advances that have some commenting that there is a renaissance of play underway in the country. From my vantage point out in Nova Scotia’s far east this seems to be wholly possible.

It’s been a great summer of play for our family with adventurous trips spanning six provinces,with plenty of camping interspersed and enjoyment of simple pleasures and slow time in our national parks.

One of my unforgettable highlights is Pop-Up Adventure Play’s touchdown in Halifax for the kickoff of their national tour. It was wonderful to meet the play troubadours in person and get a chance to know them just a little. Halifax loved them as evidenced by the 200+ kids who came out for a loose parts pop-up on Halfax’s South Common – what a blast!!! It’s just so wonderful to see the looks on kids’s faces – animated, euphoric, full of zip and spot on in the moment. Thanks again to Suzanna, Morgan and Andy for sharing your expertise and enthusiasm with communites across the country.

I’m thinking ahead already to the next triennial gathering. I’ll be better prepared and make sure to get my application in before it sells out!

For those in Calgary – have a great conference…

Welcome to all International Play Association (IPA) delegates and participants kicking off the organization’s triennial conference in Calgary this week. It’s a brilliant idea to host the play world here in Canada during the country’s 150th anniversary. Kudos to all those who helped design an excellent program with outstanding speakers and presenters representing play traditions, practices and research from around the globe. In this post, CanadaPlays, with the help of sister blog PlayGroundology, is putting a little Canadiana in the window to help you get your bearings and have a playful time while here.

Original artwork by Kyle Jackson now hanging at Alderney Landing Library in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

National Treasures

First up, let’s share a couple of national treasures with you. Cornelia Hahn Oberlander has had children at heart all her life. She first designed public housing playgrounds in the US in the 1950s with architects Louis Kahn and Oskar Stonorov. This was shortly after being amongst the first women to graduate from Harvard as a landscape architect and prior to moving to her adopted home, in British Columbia, Canada.

In 1967, as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations, Cornelia was invited to design the playground at the Children’s Creative Centre as part of the Canadian pavilion at Expo 67. Mr. PlayGroundology was 10 at the time but sadly our family never made the trip from Toronto to Montreal for the party of parties marking our 100th birthday though I remember a lot of fun from that summer nonetheless. By all accounts the kids who were able to give the Expo 67 playscape a whirl liked it a lot.

This clip is excerpted from the National Film Board of Canada documentary, The Canadian Pavilion, Expo 67. Following Expo, Cornelia participated in the creation of national playground guidelines and designed more than 70 across the country. A few years back, she was kind enough to speak with me on the phone thanks to an introduction from the folks at space2place.

Source: Expo 67 Ccreative Children’s Centre – Canadian Centre for Architecture

Aside from sharing a wonderful bibliography with me, I remember how she emphasized simplicity remarking, and I’m paraphrasing here, that to have fun all kids really need is sand, water and something to climb… Thank you Cornelia for all your contributions not only to play in Canada but to the greening of our urban landscapes.

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Inside, Upside – Harmonic Motion, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam installation at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, 2013. Credit – Roberto Boccaccino

From her home in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam creates aerial textile play environments that are a riot of movement and pulsating colours. Prior to dedicating her artistic vision to designing an unparalleled play experience for kids, Toshiko exhibited her textile art at prominent galleries and museums in Japan, the US and Europe. At one point, she questioned whether there was more to life than prepping for shows and hosting vernissages. A few years ago, my then four-year-old daughter Nellie-Rose accompanied me on the first PlayGroundology road trip. We had lunch with Toshiko and her partner Charles in their home and learned how her wondrous woven webs of play are the creative fabric that warms her life.

Outside, Flipside – Harmonic Motion, Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam installation at Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma, 2013. Credit – Roberto Boccaccino

As Toshiko transitioned away from the art exhibition world, she spent weekends over the course of three years walking around neighbourhoods in her native Japan. This research and exploration of the where, what and how of kids’ play convinced her that there was an opportunity to introduce some new concepts rooted in textile sculpture. Toshiko’s play sculptures are found in prominent locations in Japan, including the Hakone Open-Air Museum, and a variety of Asian countries. The large scale sculptures have yet make any real headway in North America or Europe outside of exhibit spaces. Toshiko works with Norihide Imagawa, one of Japan’s foremost structural designers and engineers to ensure maximum integrity and safety of each of her play sculptures. Photos of her play sculptures have created a couple of online surges of interest in her work from the design, architecture and play communities. Let’s hope that kids in more communities around the world will have the opportunity to revel in unbridled play in one of Toshiko’s lovingly crafted creations…

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Players

There are an increasing number of organizations across the country who contribute to promoting, programming and researching about play. In no particular order here is a partial list that provides a sampling of some of the activity underway in Canada: Le lion et la souris (Montréal, QC); Active Kids Club (Toronto, ON); Integrate Play Solutions (BC); outsideplay.ca (British Columbia); Active for Life (QC); Centre for Local Research into Public Space (CELOS) and Dufferin Grove Park (Toronto, ON); Calgary Playground Review (Calgary, AB); Manitoba Nature Summit (Winnipeg, MB); The Lawson Foundation (Toronto, ON); ParticipACTION (Toronto, ON); Playground Builders (Whistler, BC); CanadaPlays (Eastern Passage, NS) And let’s not forget a shout to all those whose work supports play in their roles with municipal, provincial and federal governments and service organizations.

Click through on photo or here

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Playmakers – Designers and Builders

This a small selection of Canadian companies creating custom playscapes.

Earthscape

Carcross Commons – Tagish First Nation, Carcross, Yukon

Earthscape has developed a substantial catalogue of custom design and build playscapes that have been installed throughout the country. Each Earthscape project is unique. I’m thrilled that Halifax gave an Earthscape project the green light in 2016. The company is now exporting and has installed a super slide on New York City’s Governors Island.

Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat – Daily tous les jours

A sensation in Montreal since the original 21 balançoires were introduced in the Quartier des spectacles in 2011. Every day each swing swung an average of 8,500 times. An adaptation of the original installation has been touring North American cities. A musical swings impact study is available here.

space2place

Completed in 2008, space2place’s Garden City Play Environment in Richmond, British Columbia was ahead of the curve in the context of Canadian fixed structure playgrounds. There is a great write up of this space published in The Vancouver Sun shortly after its opening.

Bienenstock

McCleary Playground downtown Toronto – 2008

Adam Bienenstock was at the front end of the natural playground surge and continues to bring his personal brand and vision to schools, communities and settings in the natural environment in Canada and beyond.

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Children’s Rights

In Montreal’s Salamander Playground atop Mount Royal Park, Québecois artist Gérard Dansereau has created a series of original tiles embedded throughout the play area to commemorate and draw attention to the Conventions on the Rights of the Child as elaborated and promoted by UNICEF. I have added the English to my favourite tile from the series below. Other tiles available to view here.

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The Poutine of Play

Poutine has gone from a well-loved, known locally only Québec delicacy to an international phenomenon. Could it be that ballon-poire will travel a similar trajectory exporting a culturally branded Québecois game around the globe? I’ve seen the game played just once and even though I have no understanding of the rules, it attracted me immediately. It is easy to see that eye – hand coordination is certainly de rigueur. The girls in the clip below are spelling out a word but I didn’t stay long enough to capture it all. There are a number of variations to the game accompanied to different call and answers as the players whump the punch bag back and forth as quickly as they can. I’m looking forward to gaining a better understanding of how the game is played some day and hopefully giving it a whirl myself.

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Cultural Institutions

Hockey

It wouldn’t be Canada without the country’s never-ending love affair with hockey. Enjoy this animated short, The Sweater, by Roch Carrier my former boss at the Canada Council for the Arts. It’s a heart warming story that revolves around one of the sport’s great rivalries between les Canadiens and the Leafs.

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

If you have any down time during the conference, the NFB is a great online viewing theatre with hundreds of free titles to choose from including this surprising short!

If you have any down time during the conference, the NFB is a great online viewing theatre with hundreds of free titles to choose from including this surprising short!

 

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

For news and current affairs tune into our public broadcaster CBC. There is a great vareity of programming including a short series broadcast earlier this summer, The lost art of play.

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Best Signage Ever About Risk and Play is in Calgary!

This photo was sent to me by my cousin, an avid cyclist from the Toronto area, just over a year ago. I mistakenly thought that it was snapped on one of his rides out in the countryside but I was quickly advised of my error by readers. This sign, the most popular post on PlayGroundology Facebook with nearly 5K shares and a 645K reach, is located at Calgary’s TELUS Spark Brainasium.

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Beware the Risk of Acronyms

Many Canadians can be forgiven if they develop a sudden thirst on seeing the organization’s acronym IPA because what may be foremost in their minds is quaffing a cold one and enjoying a beloved India Pale Ale. Treat yourself to a viewing of I Am Canadian, a very popular rant/ad from 2000 starring Jeff Douglas now the co-host of one of CBC Radio’s flagship programs, As It Happens.

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The Sounds of Joy

A group of school children enjoy one of Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam’s installations in Japan. The excitement and joy are contagious. You may have to reset your quality to 480p when you play this clip on YouTube.

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Best Wishes for a Great Conference

Nature Rocks

We are in a land of wild and rugged splendour. Over millions of years, earth, sea, wind and ice have sculpted the coastlines of Western Newfoundland. In Gros Morne National Park, cliffs with layered columns of shale and granite overlook tidal pools peppered with huge boulders. Further north, shallow sweeps of sandy beach skirt grassy shores. Throughout our stay, we embrace this interstitial zone between dancing seas and mountains’ cloudy crowns.

Sheaves Cove, Port au Port Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador

In August’s warm shine there is much to explore. The kids are as wowed as we are. It seems that every new turn unveils another breathtaking vista. Play comes alive in this place beyond any urban dreaming of it. Each striking landscape becomes an invitation to adventure. There is a palpable attraction for the kids to incorporate the natural world surrounding them as the central element in their activities.

On the Port au Port Peninsula to the south, a rockbed stream rushes over a precipice and into Sheaves Cove below. It is one of two ‘hidden’ waterfalls whose whereabouts are made known to drivers on The French Ancestors’ Route 460 by handmade, roadside signs. Sometimes it’s like this – as easy as one, two, three – climb, jump, and hop.

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There is a whisper of danger as they jump down onto the rock slabs that are nearly level with the stream’s last few metres. A stumbled, false landing could propel them right into the water. From the looks on their faces and the excited conversations, it’s clear that the kids are experiencing an adrenalin jolt each time they leap off the edge.

I find myself cautioning our youngest and directing her to not jump off one of the higher rocks. Looks like killjoy papa is not practising what he preaches. Lila though is not one to give up easily. She chips away with repeated requests and finally I relent. Turns out she is more than capable and in this instance has no difficulty keeping pace with her older siblings. Discovery and fun are the touchstones here as our trio stretches their abilities and their repertoires.

Back within the boundaries of Gros Morne, experimentation and pushing limits continues in a rush of low tide, sea spray parkour. Below Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse, the terrain is uneven with moist sand, pooling water and assorted natural debris underfoot. No one run follows the same route as its predecessor and the kids wind up each burst across the rocks with a ta-daa like flourish.

Low tide parkour games at Lobster Cove Head in Gros Morne Natinal Park

Spatial orientation, rapid risk assessment and sure-footedness are all being called on as the kids pick their way through the randomly strewn boulders. They test their abilities by navigating different paths through the maze and pursuing new personal best times. Fortunately, papa can rely on his precision, built in steamboat counter to clock each run.

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Conditions here are perfect – a light, salt breeze, the rhythmic roll of sputtering waves and some time to leisurely while away in simple pursuits. Our spontaneous, unplanned rock hopping adventure is the highlight of the day.

Further up the coast in Green Point, the cliff face reveals a geological storybook. This rock of the ages plays an important role in our understanding of how the earth developed way, way back in the day (apologies for the technical language here). For the kids though, the primary attractions are the climbing challenge and the tactile sensations of the tidal pools.

Green Point, Gros Morne National Park where the rock of ages collide

The kids are all about getting to the top. Each of them proceeds at their own pace meandering up the natural steps and stairs, pausing along the way to examine interesting outcrops. The relatively gentle slope and the unfamiliar rock formations present just the right amount of challenge. The ascent is invigorating and builds confidence in judgment and physical abilities.

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What goes up must come down and the skills developed on the upward journey are in even greater demand on the descent. The kids gingerly pick their way over the rock testing for stability. As they hit the flats, the pace and hazards change. The rocks around the tidal pools are wet and slippery and require a cautious approach. It’s worth the slow going to see and touch crabs, sea urchins and other creatures. From land to sea and back again our contented crew chalks up another playful outing.

Kids adapt to this place easily embracing the awesomeness of the natural world’s unmitigated wonder. Intuitively they understand the value of safeguarding this beauty, this diversity. The large expanses largely unfettered by human development emphasize that nature does indeed rock and provides unlimited potential for outdoors play, adventure and discovery.

Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne has become one of our new favourite places to get away and we hope to return every couple of years. It’s not always easy to find the time or the resources to visit places like these. Look for what’s available closer to home and take advantage of green, natural spaces. Your kids will thank you for it and if you’re urban dwellers like us, you might just enjoy getting out of the city…

Earlier this year a new resource supported by the Lawson Foundation, OutsidePlay.ca, was developed for parents and caregivers to help them “manage their fears and develop a plan for change so their children can have more opportunities for risky play”. If you’re wondering about risk and play, this is a good source of information and a great place to start.

May the play be with you…..