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Glamis Adventure Playground

July 7, 2012

I spent an hour and a half yesterday at one of the most extraordinary playgrounds I have ever had the pleasure to visit: Glamis Adventure Playground.  It was wonderful to meet Mark, playworker at Glamis, and to have the chance to talk with him both about his work and some of his philosophies behind what happens at Glamis.  You’ll see that there are many photographs below, and while it seems like a lot of pictures, these are the ones that I trimmed down from the several hundred I took while on site. Before arriving at Glamis I spoke with Mark about taking photographs that included the children on the playground, and he gave me the go-ahead to include children in some of the shots, as long as I remembered to “just don’t stick the camera in anybody’s face.”  He made the point that photographs of a playground with no children in the frame can seem a bit lifeless, which I certainly agree with.

Mark described to me how important he considered it to provide the children of the surrounding community with opportunities for  play in a setting that contained grass, plants and trees, and different forms of challenge and risk.  A central focal point of the playground, as you will see below, is the fire, which was just getting going as I arrived, and which shortly was fully ablaze.  You’ll see how Mark and some of the children gathered around the fire, and also how it was put to practical use to cook a pot of soup.

One significant point that Mark emphasized to me is his belief that children need to be given the opportunity to sort things out on their own, both on the playground and in life, more generally.  This in no way meant a lack of concern for children’s safety or well-being, but instead signified a sense of respect for children as autonomous beings who are capable, intelligent, and resourceful enough, if given the chance, to negotiate both physical challenges such as some of the riskier play equipment present, but also to resolve inter-personal conflicts.

This was a philosophy that I had heard echoes of from Amanda at Apples and Pears Adventure Playground, when she described how important it was for her to maintain a watchful eye on the children, but to avoid jumping in and trying to resolve conflicts over sharing, etc. immediately when they occurred.  She paralleled Mark’s belief that it is absolutely vital that children be allowed the opportunity to sort things out for themselves, as they learn critical coping skills and they develop conflict resolution techniques that will serve them later in life.  Similarly for the importance of risk and challenge in play.  Without having the opportunity to experience risk as a child, later in life when the child grows he or she will be less equipped to navigate and negotiate risky, challenging situations, having not had the experience early on.

At any rate, enough talk for now….here, enjoy the beauty that is Glamis Adventure Playground.

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2 Comments
  1. Francis Barton (@oddhack) permalink

    Glamis is just architecturally (if that’s the appropriate word) so beautiful.

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  1. Swings and Things in the Glamis Adventure Playground | Creative STAR Learning | I'm a teacher, get me OUTSIDE here!

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