As a child I spent many hours on the swing in my backyard, talking to my friends, the trees. Of course I also loved to slide on slides (my favorite slide must have been at least 80’ long, located at High Park in Toronto –It’s no longer there and I can’t believe I could find no images on Google!). But I was never really a heights type of person; climbing trees and a being up high was not my biggest desire as a child.
Since I entered in the playground industry I started climbing and trying all types of playground equipment so that I would know what it feels like. I’ve climbed cable net structures to find out that I felt safe and secure within the net (which is counter intuitive to most that see these types of structures for the first time); I’ve swung down 100’ long zip lines and felt the exhilaration of speed; I’ve spun, bounced and swayed and tried to challenge my bodily strength on all types of equipment.
At NRPA a couple of weeks ago I climbed on the new net structure from Kompan (in my high heals which I’m usually wearing when I’m climbing cable nets –no excuses for not climbing and trying new equipment). It proved to be quite a challenge and a good workout with many different types of climbing activities within one unit.
I also tried out the Orbis by Henderson. I liked the bounce of the rubber bridge. I have never been a fan of climbing that goes nowhere (like a stand alone vertical net – you go up and then come down and that’s it) so I liked this unit for the continuity throughout each play and climbing component.
The other night I went indoor rock climbing for the first time. I was nervous but I tried to remind myself of my “playground climbing experience”! And in truth, when I climbed the wall for the first time my climbing experience did come into play and it felt, well almost, natural. I felt accomplished and more self-confident for challenging myself.
This also reminded me of when I went zip lining through the mountains in Whistler, BC (Canada) last year. I was very nervous being so high in the trees. I had to remind myself of all I had learned about the strength of cables. It was an amazing experience that I would repeat in an instant.
Sometimes as adults we forget how important it is for children to play and climb on challenging play equipment. If my self-confidence and sense of accomplishment was increased by these experiences just imagine what children gain from playing on playgrounds and other physical activities!