Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Bit of Peter Pan Magic

Did you know that Neverland is actually located in Berkeley, California? It's true. With a pinch of my husband's daring spirit, mixed with a dash of internet research, he found the park that the Lost Boys built.

Apparently, a lot of other people have also discovered this park, as it was packed full of kids and parents who refuse to grow up. This incredible place, named one of the Top Ten Playgrounds by National Geographic Magazine, is almost indescribable. But I'm gonna try...

Opened over thirty years ago, Adventure Playground is still a work in progress. How is that possible, you ask?  Well, it's simple.

Normally a list of things to *avoid* on a playground... which is what makes it so brilliant.  There were hardly any construction hazards to be found.  

Kids have access to giant piles of scrap wood, and can check out hammers, nails, saws, and paint to build pretty much whatever they want to.

Reduce, reuse, recycle!

As a result, the play structures all look, well, like the forts I used to build in the woods with my friends growing up.  But much, much cooler.   They're a little bit wonky, a little bit messy, and a whole lotta fun.

Sure, that makes for a few hazards here and there, but parent supervision is required, and there are warnings all over the place.


If you would have asked me yesterday if I'd take my not-quite-four-year-old to a park where they not only provide, but *encourage* the use of potentially dangerous tools, I probably would have said absolutely not.  But once you're there, witnessing the playground's perfect combination of creativity and childlike joy, it seems like the best idea ever.  

For starters, the park is right on the water, with views of San Francisco.  That alone is hard to beat.  But it gets better.  There's giant climbing nets, tons of slides and swings, tunnels for days, and a zipline, for crying out loud. 

Old instruments have been turned into works of art...

I kind of want one of these for our living room.

... and objects of exploration.

Everywhere you turn, there's a new nook or cranny just begging to be explored.

This.  Playground.  Rules.

It's everything a Bay Area mama could ask for.  It's amazingly artsy.  It's granola-crunching hippie.  It's something completely different.  It encourages the kiddos to play outside and use their imagination.  But the best part of all?  It brings families together.  Since you have to keep a really careful eye on your little one, it creates a totally different level of engagement.  Parents are given permission to turn into kids again.

Forget about finding the Lost Boys.  We ARE the Lost Boys. And this is our Neverland.