Taking the fun out of being a kid – The West Virginia Record


This is a reprint from West Virginia’s Legal Journal, The West Virgina Record, published earlier this week.

While no one likes to hear about kids getting injured at the playground or elsewhere, it wouldn’t be harmful to take a step back from the preoccupation with extreme safety to see if it really does benefit our kids. More and more people are taking the view that the safety cocoon approach is questionable.

Taking the fun out of being a kid
10/7/2011 11:40 PM

Adults today were kids once, too, and managed to survive the dangers of – THE PLAYGROUND!

They learned that climbing up the slide too close behind someone else is a good way to get kicked in the face.

They learned that dawdling at the bottom of the slide increases the temptation for the next kid to come plowing into you.

They learned that wooden seesaws sometimes splinter (ouch!) and that it isn’t wise to be up in the air when the kid on the other side decides to get off.

The boys learned to stand clear of the swings and the girls learned to wear shorts under their skirts.

These valuable lessons, alas, are ones that today’s kids are not likely to learn.

Kids today are supposed to be protected from all harm. If they have recess, if they’re allowed to play at all, it has to be on soft and squishy equipment safely moored on trampoline-like ground surfaces with no rough or protruding edges anywhere.

Playgrounds need to be paved with marshmallows, and the slides, seesaws, and swings should be made of licorice sticks and fruit rollups to pacify the critics.

It makes fun-loving oldsters want to vomit.

Of course, with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission setting standards for playground equipment and overprotective parents suing for every scratch and scrape their kids incur, it’s a wonder that schools dare to have playgrounds.

Debra Garboski is suing the Cabell County Board of Education for the head injury her daughter, Michela Marcum, allegedly received two years ago on a swing set at Alitzer Elementary.

Michela might not have been hurt if the pavement had been made of sponge rubber and a dozen teachers had hovered nearby with giant nets ready to catch her.

Win or lose, the school board is likely to conclude that playgrounds are more trouble than they’re worth. Pretty soon, being a kid won’t be any fun at all.

Maybe we’ll need a federal agency to set mandatory fun standards for bored school kids.

In spite of rules, regulations and standards, play will always remain the art of the imagination. Fortunately, there are plenty of adults and hordes of kids who fully embrace this idea. Just look at some of the designs featured here in PlayGroundology.

Shortly after reading The West Virginia Record item, I came across a ‘newish’ piece of playground equipment designed by the Quebec firm, ElephantPlay. It looks like a lot of fun, wish I could try it…

Happy spinning. spinning like fall leaves in the wind.

2 responses to “Taking the fun out of being a kid – The West Virginia Record

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you, and the West Virginia Record article. My kids and I have been exploring our local playgrounds, and I can’t help but feel that they’re missing out on some of the fun playground elements from my childhood. I haven’t seen a good old fashioned teeter-totter in ages, and my kids will never know the fear of being atomic-dropped from one. There are some gems that we’re finding. Some playgrounds still have that great element, but we’re discovering that they’re the exceptions that have to be sought out.


    • Hello Rob – thanks for your note and for listing PlayGroundology on your site. I’m in such good company there with Michele and the others. I always enjoy discovering another playground blogger. It looks like a great resource you’re developing and you’re in such a wonderful part of the world. Our family visited San Diego just over 3 years ago and loved it. Thanks for writing, I’ll be dropping in on Play Somewhere from time to time now that I know you’re there.


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