Child’s Play – Sand Box or Sand Mountain?

In our quest to build community at the Village, we don’t think just about the physical facilities that are needed, but how they must come into being.  Often the best way to assure that common structures don’t become neglected mausoleums (like so many planned gated community clubhouses) is to involve the community in their conception and construction.

Today, I’ve been thinking about building facilities that bring people together, including a playground for kids, a man-cave common shop for building projects and tinkering and a place for female activities like scrap booking or quilting.  But we must start from the point of creating activities rather than creating buildings.

A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a day of play with two families who visited with their nine young children.  As the adults were preparing hobo dinners in the fire pit, we noticed that the kids had gathered at a large mound of dirt near the stage.  They were busily digging caves, leveling pads for imaginary structures, playing king of the hill and any number of other great, creative games.

So, this morning we were noodling about building a kid’s playground.  We were reaching into our childhood memories for hints of what will make it the coolest, most fun, most awesome place for kids to hang out and play. I remarked that the first thing we need is a good sand box for the creativity it brings out.  Then it struck me.  The traditional sand box simply won’t do.  It’s too two-dimensional.  We need a sand mountain. And what better way to build it than to involve Village parents and their kids in its conception, placement, and construction?

We have all the materials we need right here at the Village.  I’m thinking rather than use pressure treated lumber for the box, why not use some of the huge logs that have already been cut?  Discarded tires make great barriers or climbing structures too.  Build three sides tall and fill it with sand.  When the sand goes flat from a lot of play, I can bring my tractor in to re-pile it into a mountain.  Maybe put a climbing wall on the back side of the logs.

But then, what do I know?  My most important work is to get the Villagers involved in a way cooler solution.  Who knows?  It might be so cool that the adults will rediscover how much fun it is to play in the sand and we will have to expand it.

Anyone up for a sand sculpture contest?

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