The child who insists on running up the slide at the playground is doing it for a good reason.
Chances are he's uninspired and trying to create more of a challenge for himself. And if the child is 9 or 10 years old, he is likely fully bored by the swings, slides and climbing gear.When I was a kid on the playgrounds of Spring Hill Elementary, on the "Mean Streets" of McLean, VA - 22102 - we played the following (awesome) games.
Some child-development experts and parents say decades of dumbed-down playgrounds, fueled by fears of litigation, concerns about injury and worrywart helicopter parents, have led to cookie-cutter equipment that offers little thrill. The result, they say, is that children are less compelled to play outside, potentially stunting emotional and physical development and exacerbating a nationwide epidemic of childhood obesity.
Some psychologists suggest that not exposing children to risk can result in increases in anxiety and other phobias. Children who never climb trees, for example, are more likely to develop a fear of heights, according to a study in Norway. And encouraging free play, in an age of structured activities and computer games, is believed to be important in helping children develop physical and cognitive competencies, creativity and self-worth.
Without ANY supervision or organization from adults.
1. Greek Dodge
This was two groups of kids, in a rectangular court. One red rubber voit playground ball. The game began with two "enders" who were outside the court. You tried to dodge the ball as it was whipped at you, your head, your body, your FACE - as hard as possible. If you CAUGHT the ball, then then the thrower was "out". If you got hit, you were out. Game proceeded until one side prevailed. Good fun!
Two Memories: On the court we played, there was a fair amount of finely milled gray gravel that spilled over from an adjacent play area. It made one end of the court, about as slippery as a freshly zambonied NHL rink. Good fun! Also, Ronnie Kerns was a little fireplug of a kid, who was damn near impossible to get out with any throw that he saw coming. The kid was a black hole for that stupid red rubber dodge ball. Amazing. Why did we call it "Greek" dodge? Have no idea. Seems like ordinary dodge ball.
2. Tower Tag
This was a cool piece of playground equipment, about 10 feet tall (it seemed much bigger as kids, but then again, we were small little snots at that age) that featured a 6x6 platform on top with two chain link "ropes" surrounding it like a boxing ring. The "ladders" on the sides of this tower were also a webs of chains. Who knows what was "intended" by the makers of this tower (climb up gently and a have a nice little look around?) but we as kids decided to play full blown "tag" on it. Which means kids were scurrying all up and down this thing like spiders on crack to avoid getting tagged.
Best Memory: Andy Baughman, a polite, well dressed kid, who was pretty damn quick and athletic when pressed, was so intent on evading a tag one time, he did a full FLIP over the top rope, and fell the full 10 feet flat onto his back! Right onto that non-shock-absorbing finely milled gray playground gravel. The whole playground stopped suddenly in a hush. Luckly, ol' Andy was only 'shaken up'. "Tower Tag" was immediately banned by the (likely annoyed) teachers who were momentarily distracted from their gossiping near the school doors, and the next September the ol' chainlink tower.... was gone. Just like that.
So yeah, I guess it IS good that some people are seeing the value in un-pussifying the North American schoolyard playground. Ronnie Kerns is probably a stuntman, and Andy Baughman a CEO.