Pre-Schoolers Not Allowed to Play On Swings with Grass and Dirt Underneath — “Too Dangerous”

It is better for pre-schoolers not to play on their new playground equipment at all — equipment that is on grass and dirt, not concrete — than to let them play without 6-inch-deep mulch underneath, according to regulators.

A pre-school in a disadvantaged neighborhood of Charlotte, NC, received the equipment as a donation,  which seemed like a gift from heaven. But then it learned that it must keep the kids off the equipment until somehow the school gets a donation of $1,100, which is what the mulch will cost.

As Mark Price at the Charlotte Observer writes:

“The kids can’t play on it,” says Shannon McKnight, director of development for The Learning Collaborative. “It’s a safety issue. It’s required that you have a safety barrier surrounding anything that’s a playground, which we can’t afford yet.”

The barrier she speaks of is not meant to be around the playground, but under it. Six inches of a special mulch is needed under the equipment, about 25 cubic feet.

This is the kind of regulation that makes you want to drag a bureaucrat out of the office to sit on the playground and watch exuberant little kids not playing.

While of course it makes sense to try to minimize injury, at some point our country has got to accept that zero risk, especially on a playground, is impossible. What’s more, trying to achieve this unachievable goal (as we were discussing here yesterday) can actually backfire by, for instance, making kids less active. And less excited about school. Less joyous at recess. Less ready to learn. Less adept at assessing risk. Less resilient. Less ready for the world which is not carpeted in 6-inch-deep mulch.

The playground equipment is not resting on a bed of nails. It’s on the ground, the same stuff kids have been raised on since the beginning of time. Some falls will happen and that’s okay. Collectively we have got to stop thinking of children only in terms of what could go wrong — worst-first thinking — and think about what goes RIGHT the vast majority of the time.

Otherwise, once some child breaks a limb despite the 6-inch-deep mulch, a new law named for him or her kid will require a depth 8-inches, or 12, or a bed of swans’ down.

Not that I want to give the bureaucrats any ideas! – L

NOTE: To offer help, contact Shannon McKnight at 704-377-8076, ext 210; or send donations to Shannon McKnight, Director of Development, The Learning Collaborative, 3241 Sam Drenan Road, Charlotte N.C., 28205.

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Have fun, Charlotte kids! Just not on the slide, or the swings, or

 

 

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80 Responses to Pre-Schoolers Not Allowed to Play On Swings with Grass and Dirt Underneath — “Too Dangerous”

  1. Lyndsay October 25, 2016 at 12:05 pm #

    My second grader’s chief complaint is that they are not allowed to hang upside down from the monkey bars (which are over more than regulation mulch). She constantly asks me why. I know the answer is that they could fall on their heads. I also know that she is just as likely to turn over midair and fall on her side. She could also slip off of a swing and hit her head. Play is not risk free. It shouldn’t be. Meanwhile, here is a seven year old who is so used to things being safe that she won’t let me take her training wheels off because she might fall. When I say that’s part of being a kid, she looks at me like I’m nuts.

    And what fun are monkey bars if you can’t hang upside down off of them?

  2. Vicki Bradley October 25, 2016 at 12:06 pm #

    Aargh, that makes me nuts! Can’t anyone talk some sense into these bureaucrats? I guess they are so used to NOT using common sense and simply toeing the party line, that they absolutely can not think for themselves, even if they wanted to!

  3. Tmj October 25, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

    Why bother even putting up play structures anymore when soon it will be illegal to let our kids breathe fresh air too! It’s an upside down world these days

  4. Andrew October 25, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    Ugh my pre-school daughter broke her arm falling off a swing at a county owned playground. There was some rubber mat thing beneath the swing. Newsflas: while it was awful and painful for my daughter, she was a trouper and made a full recovery. Kids that young heal better than adults. And i didnt think once of suing the county.

  5. elizabeth October 25, 2016 at 12:18 pm #

    Mulch can do more damage in a fall than grass and dirt (scraping up exposed skin). And it does nothing for a bone-breaking fall (my brother broke his wrist when he slipped off the swing at the height of the arch).

  6. Suze October 25, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    Have they banned swing sets all together in the States (or elsewhere) on school grounds? I know here in Ontario, Canada, the school yards haven’t had them for years as they were deemed ‘too dangerous.’ Even crazier still, when they did have them at my son’s then elementary school, it was SAND underneath them. More beyond the pale fractured logic at work.

  7. Sarah October 25, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

    Well the whole thing is just insane. I am impressed with the potential space these kids have. They could really do it well..

    They could do one like this. It has a pump and sand and lots of wood. My son loves this place

    https://www.google.com/search?q=photos+constitution+gardens+gaithersburg&rlz=1C1CHZL_enUS695US695&espv=2&biw=1280&bih=879&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjoq8_srvbPAhVj7IMKHZyCBUYQsAQILA#imgrc=JkaBLIPEQi5ngM%3A

  8. Marianne Lappin October 25, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    Where can we help donate for the mulch?

  9. Soukeyna Boye Spivey October 25, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    Unfortunately so many educators have adopted very restrictive policies regarding outdoor play for preschoolers to avoid frequent lawsuits brought by parents (and their greedy lawyers) against schools; a sign of the times so different from times where parents considered injuries a part of growing up. Children’s natural instincts to explore is being hampered more and more every day

  10. Ariel October 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    1) can you get a splinter from grass/dirt? No. Can you get a splinter from woodchips? Yes.

    2) like Marianne said, lets start a kickstarter to get them their stuff 🙂

    3) biggest achievements when i was a preschooler: learning how to pump myself on the swings, and making it all the way across the (high) monkey bars at the park because I practiced on the lower-height ones at school!

  11. Kimberly Herbert October 25, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    Echoing another poster. Is there a go fund me or other site were we can donate to the school?

  12. Jess October 25, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    From the article:

    To offer help, contact Shannon McKnight at 704-377-8076, ext 210; or send donations to Shannon McKnight, Director of Development, The Learning Collaborative, 3241 Sam Drenan Road, Charlotte N.C., 28205.

    Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article109691712.html#storylink=cpy

  13. delurking October 25, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    That is some special mulch. High-end hardwood mulch costs ~$60 per cubic yard (1 cubic yard = 27 cubic feet). Regular mulch is typically ~$15 per cubic yard. Delivery might get to $400, but I doubt it in Charlotte, NC.

  14. Joan October 25, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    I recently attended a seminar on reasoning with people who suffer from mental disorders, which was both fascinating and useful. Among other topics, we discussed anxiety disorders. I was particularly struck by this gem: “Normal worrying focuses on solving problems. Abnormal worrying focuses on creating problems.”

    Clearly the modern approach to parenting could benefit from some collective therapy!

  15. Workshop October 25, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    Journalists are not math majors.

    25 cubic feet is less than a cubic yard (which is 3x3x3 = 27 cubic feet).

    The author probably meant 25 cubic yards. That comes out to something like $40/yard, which is reasonable for playground mulch.

  16. theresa October 25, 2016 at 1:30 pm #

    Probably the insurance company says this is way it got to be.

  17. Mother to The Divine Miss O October 25, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    I burst out laughing when I read this title. Just yesterday at recess, my 12-yr-old (grade 7) daughter was attempting her best supergirl-flying-through-the-air pose with the helpful support of a playground swing, overbalanced, and did a face-plant into the requisite MULCH below. In her own words, and with gales of laughter, “I knew I needed to do something to not fall and I chose the wrong thing.” Conclusion: mulch will not prevent all injury… and playground injuries are survivable (and instructive).

    Yet, the free-rage story doesn’t end there. I found out what happened when I picked her up after school… the skinned nose/upper lip/chin, and the cut fat lips were a dead give-away. The damage inside her mouth will keep her from playing her French horn for a few days, but all of her teeth are intact (my own gold standard). The school provided her with an ice pack to manage the swelling, and she had what she needed to treat the skin itself in her gym bag (she has highly reactive skin). No problem here… an ill-considered choice resulting in very minor injuries, which my competent daughter handled on her own.

    What surprised me about the whole thing is the number of people who expressed shock at the school not having called me so I could have taken her to a doctor immediately to assess any possible head/neck injury. I pointed out that the child in question is a smart, articulate, usually very well-considered 12-yr-old, who was perfectly able to decide for herself if/when her mother needed to be involved… not to mention that I trust the school to differentiate between minor/serious injury. They were not having it, and insisted that the school was negligent, and had it been their child, there would be hell to pay.

    I truly do not get it… but I guess I don’t have to. I does sadden me that even people who I know to be sane, balanced and well-considered would see a problem where there isn’t one. For my part, I’m going to be looking forward to hearing how “supergirl, round two” went today. I trust the lesson of yesterday is contributing to a much more satisfying and successful second attempt; and my excited about school, joyous at recess, ready to learn, adept at assessing risk, resilient, absolutely ready for the world which is not carpeted in 6-inch-deep mulch daughter demonstrates how to take said world by storm.

    I really hope The Learning Collaborative people find their way over here and come to understand that it is not mulch that saves the world, but children like my daughter who have the freedom to experience the world on their own terms.

  18. that mum October 25, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    how is grass more dangerous than that rubber recycled tire crap they put under a lot of playgrounds these days? its slightly more springy I guess (the rubber) but you will still break a bone if you fall from the right height.

  19. EtobicokeMom October 25, 2016 at 1:58 pm #

    To Mother of the Divine Miss O – I have similarly had incredulous parents when the school doesn’t call me for every bump and scrape. I recall one day last spring when the school did call – the secretary started with “you know how I usually don’t call you and I respect you’re super busy? Well, I’m calling”. Because they don’t call every single time there is a scrape, I knew I really needed to go get my son that time. She made a good call. For me, with a busy work schedule, I am so grateful they only call when it’s necessary.

    But the principal tells me they are considering new rules because a parent is suing for a gym class injury. I think it’s so important that we not just critique but also express our support of schools that are doing it right.

  20. diane October 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

    @Mother to the Divine Miss O: I’m so glad to hear that your 7th grader has recess; what a plus! My 6th grader is missing recess terribly. I know of a private school in the city here that has 6th grade recess but none of the public schools do. 🙁

    Has safer equipment led to fewer serious head injuries on playgrounds over the years? I’d like to see a study, if anyone has a link. And who came up with the guidelines for the equipment? Were there studies, or just lawyers/insurance people guessing?

  21. Papilio October 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    @Lenore: “This is the kind of regulation that makes you want to drag a bureaucrat out of the office to”

    …make them lie under the playground structures to break the kids’ falls. Surely their exercise-deprived coffee-slemping sitting-on-their-behind-all-day bureaucrat bodies can provide the required six inches of softness?

  22. Jess October 25, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    @Diane, I don’t have any linked studies right now, but I’ve read a number regarding many different risks and the consensus is the same – the safer something is or appears to be, the more risks people will take with it, resulting in a higher rate of injuries. It’s true of dumbed-down playgrounds with “safety” matting, and it’s true of even wearing a helmet while riding a bike (cars are less careful, so wearing a helmet may save your head, but you’re more likely to be struck by a car). I always look to my children; the more dangerous something appears, the more cautious they are. In the house that they are familiar with and not paying attention is where they are most likely to get hurt.

  23. Jessica October 25, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

    I put a check in the mail to them today! The real problem, of course, is illogical regulations. But the immediate problem is little kids who can’t play on their shiny new equipment. Hopefully my small donation will help.

  24. diane October 25, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    @Jess, I know what you mean. So far my kids’ most serious injuries happened at home and due to their own bad judgment. One broke a glass lampshade and then got down off the bed to inspect the damage, slicing his foot open when he stepped on a piece, and one got a deep cut on her forehead when she twirled into a corner of a wall. SMH

    (The second one was actually kind of funny in a reactive, slapstick humor way and I felt bad for laughing.)

  25. Curious October 25, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

    How is this not insane?

  26. Christa October 25, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    @Mother of the Divine Miss O

    Holy mackerel!! I might be very concerned if that had happened to my kid when they were three or four–but 12??!! I was dating at 14 and working a real job at 16!!!! I cannot understand why people think that adults magically appear one day where our children were. Adults are built from the experiences of children, every day, a little bit at a time. It saddens me so much how many times the words “he is a person, not a pet” have come out of my mouth since having my boys.

  27. jimc5499 October 25, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

    Jess,
    You hit the nail on the head. Right now there is a big issue with concussions in football. A friend of mine is an Orthopedic Surgeon. We were watching a game on Sunday and he said that the easiest way to reduce concussions in football would be to take their helmets away.

  28. Emily October 25, 2016 at 3:34 pm #

    Christa, what’s wrong with a twelve-year-old swinging on the swings?

  29. Michelle October 25, 2016 at 4:51 pm #

    Thank you sue happy society. I’m glad that my child is not in preschool now. Maybe I’m wrong but I have the feeling that falling on grass would be better than falling on rubber or mulch. One day my kid was digging in mulch at a playground and found cat poop hidden within. At least if it was in plain sight on the grass, it could be easily removed before a child with a scraped knee falls in it. We used to have a super awesome playground. It had a little play house you could climb into with money bars connected, a traditional type jungle gym etc. Just last week all the equipment was taken away and there was a note saying the playground is being repaired. What I think is that it is being replaced with “safe” equipment. When I was a kid, there was an old carpet beating rag that was firmly attached to the ground and somehow did not have the bottom part. We would climb on it, swing from it etc. with nothing to concrete underneath. Until it was taken away. My children won’t get to enjoy such dangers unless I buy them the equipment.

  30. Julie507 October 25, 2016 at 5:17 pm #

    I have had a loose upper tooth for 16 years. It’s in no danger of falling out so I keep it around as a lesson to myself. In the Summer of 2000 I worked at a Parks & Rec. sponsored Day Camp. There was old play equipment near the swimming pool that was from my era and was being taken down to make space for the safe boring stuff. The children were of course kept far away from it. I climbed all over it, slipped and knocked that tooth loose. I scraped my nose up and broke my glasses.

    Oddly, it’s a nice memory. It’s sad that more people won’t have those kinds of memories because those clumsy, goofy times are what make us human and what make us tough.

  31. Backroads October 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I have no other words. How about the generations upon generations of kids who played without safety mulch?

  32. Donald Christensen October 25, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

    Whenever I hear of red tape going berserk, I think about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Micky Mouse made the magic brooms carry water for him. However he couldn’t make them stop! They kept bringing more water even though Micky is in danger of drowning! This is the same as the bureaucrats making us drown in red tape!

  33. Donald Christensen October 25, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

    A donation of mulch will get respect for the person that donated it. However much bigger than this would be if an insurance company steps in and gives them playground coverage at a reasonable rate for the none zero-risk playground.

    We need to start praising insurance that do the right thing but also naming and shaming insurance that bully people into zero-risk.

  34. Anna October 25, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    One aspect these safety regulations don’t consider. Having attended an elementary school with no play equipment, rules against anything fun (from sliding on ice to throwing snowballs), and precious few parts of the schoolyard where it was even possible to play with a ball, I can tell you what happens during recess when there’s nothing to do: meanness, bullying – whether physical or verbal – and daily fistfights. But heaven forbid a kid get injured on a swing!

  35. James Pollock October 25, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    I’d have your back on this if the rule about soft landing surfaces had been imposed after the play structure was installed. But it wasn’t, was it? The regulation was there, all along.

  36. Anna October 25, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

    ” The regulation was there, all along.”

    Um, so the existence of a regulation proves it’s good and desirable that regulation exists? That’s exactly the mindset that has our society enmeshed and choked in an infinite web of regulations. I think that was Lenore’s point, actually!

  37. Dave October 25, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    I looked up the state’s safety regulations for daycare and pre-schools (http://www.daycare.com/northcarolina/state6.html), and they’re quite extensive. Most are common sense for anyone trying to keep an eye on more than a few inquisitive and clueless ankle biters, but a number have questionable value. The regulations seem to have been based on standards suggested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and others. This reminds me of the “one size fits all” zoning regulations copied and adopted by pretty much every suburban town in the US in the sixties.

    According to a 2002 article by the University of North Carolina (http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/jan02/kotch011702.htm), playground accidents at these schools dropped significantly after the regulations were first enacted in 1997.

    Okay, so accident reports dropped a lot – but how serious were these accidents? Scratches or fatalities? And at what cost?

    They talk about “serious injuries” in the UNC report, which they seem to define as anything that was “medically attended.” Later, they go on to say that most of the injuries were to boys, and involved scrapes and cuts to the head and neck from running into or tripping over things. Not falling from swings or climbing structures.

    So, here’s the entire section on ground cover:
    (f) All stationary outdoor equipment shall be installed over a resilient surface. Footings which anchor equipment shall not be exposed. Loose surfacing material shall not be installed over concrete. Acceptable materials to be used for surfacing include the following: wood mulch, double shredded bark mulch, uniform wood chips, fine sand, coarse sand, and pea gravel. Other materials that have been certified by the manufacturer to be shock-absorbing resilient material in accordance with the American Society for Testing and Materials(ASTM) Standard 1292, may be used only if installed, maintained and replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pea gravel shall not be used if the area will be used by children under three years of age. The depth of the surfacing that is required shall be based on the critical height of the equipment. The critical height is defined as the maximum height a child may climb, sit or stand.

    (1) Equipment with a critical height of five feet or less shall have six inches of any of the surfacing materials listed.

    (2) Equipment with a critical height of more than five feet but less than seven feet shall have six inches of any of the surfacing materials listed, except for sand.

    (3) Equipment with a critical height of seven feet to 10 feet shall have nine inches of any of the surfacing materials listed, except for sand.

    (4) When sand is used as a surfacing material for equipment with a critical height of more than five feet,12 inches is required.

    (g) The resilient surfacing shall extend beyond the external limits of the equipment for a minimum of six feet. The area which is required to have the resilient surfacing is the area under and around the equipment where the child is likely to fall and it is called the fall zone. Fall zones may overlap in three situations: between two swing structures, around spring rockers, or around equipment that is less than 30 inches in height.

    (h) Swings shall have resilient surfacing that extends two times the length of the pivot point to the surface below. The surfacing shall be to the front and rear of the swing. Enclosed tot swings shall have resilient surfacing that extends two times the length of the pivot point to the bottom of the swing seat. The surfacing shall be to the front and rear of the swing. Tot swings are defined as swings with enclosed seats. Tire swings shall have resilient surfacing that extends a distance of six feet plus the measurement from the pivot point to the swing seat and six feet to the side of the support structure.

  38. James Pollock October 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    “Um, so the existence of a regulation proves it’s good and desirable that regulation exists?”

    Where did I say that?

    This is a good, and desirable regulation… children falling off play structures causes serious injury, soft landings reduce the frequency and severity of those injuries. It’s that part that makes it a good and desirable regulation.

    It’s also a regulation that the play structure not have knife edges… are you against that, too, because the busybodies made it a requirement instead of a polite suggestion?

    It’s a regulation that the water provided for the children to drink not be full of toxic chemicals or harmful biology. Against that, too? These regulations are part of that infinite web of regulations you dislike… ready to dispense with them?

    Here’s another one… that crazy driving regulation that says you have to STOP YOUR CAR just because there are kids in the crosswalk in front of you. Let’s ditch that one, too!

    The outrage comes from the fact that there is a play structure built but which children are not allowed to play on. This is the fault of the builder, who installed it incorrectly, not the regulation(s) in play. If the children weren’t allowed to play on it because the builder didn’t tighten any of the nuts and bolts holding it together when the play structure was installed, would you blame the manufacturer of the nuts?

  39. lollipoplover October 25, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

    So they require *special* mulch, not grass, for safety regulations.

    But who is regulating the MULCH?

    http://center4research.org/child-teen-health/early-childhood-development/caution-children-at-play-on-potentially-toxic-surfaces/

    I

  40. BL October 25, 2016 at 7:50 pm #

    “… playground accidents at these schools dropped significantly after the regulations were first enacted in 1997.”

    Maybe because the amount of actual playing dropped?

  41. Phyllis October 25, 2016 at 7:53 pm #

    There is a 68 page Public Playground Safety Handbook published by CPSC. That is the public regs.

  42. The other Mandy October 25, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    My large and robust 4-yr-old son was angry at his teacher for not allowing him to play on a particular piece of playground equipment at school. Turns out there a county regulation that kids have to be at least 5 to use it, and there are spot-checks. The extra stupid part is that he’s been playing on similar equipment at the neighborhood park since before he was 2. Fortunately he’s no longer annoyed at the teacher. However he was quite interested in discovering who in fact,WAS responsible. I told him if he really wanted to know, I’d help him find out, but it would not change anything. He just shook his head.

  43. Vaughan Evans October 25, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

    Perhaps one way to motivate children to be more active is to teach them the old fashioned chase and search games.
    In 1979(International Year o the Child)I taught the children the game “Run, Sheep, Run!

    -Soon he game spread around the Whole of the school-and to two neighbourhood schools.

    For more information about my experiences-and about the game, please e-mail me at;
    skippingdancers@outlook.com

    I could also send you the words of the song that I wrote:
    “The Ballad of “Run, Sheep, Run!

    -Mr. Vaughan Evans

  44. Anna October 25, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

    “It’s a regulation that the water provided for the children to drink not be full of toxic chemicals or harmful biology. Against that, too? These regulations are part of that infinite web of regulations you dislike… ready to dispense with them?

    Here’s another one… that crazy driving regulation that says you have to STOP YOUR CAR just because there are kids in the crosswalk in front of you. Let’s ditch that one, too! ”

    Did I say all regulations are bad just because they’re regulations? Obviously, some regulations are justified. My problem was with your assumption that regulations are self-justifying: you claimed because the one in question was already in place before the donation of the equipment, there’s nothing to object to here.

    You assert that this particular regulation is good. Many of us here dispute that. The question is not simply whether there’s some real evil (in this case injuries caused by falls) they’re trying to prevent; for a regulation to be good, you have to also make sure it isn’t inadvertently causing equal or more harm in some other way.

    As I recall, your daughter is not little; I don’t know if you’re aware how deadly dull current playground equipment has become. My son is not yet 5, and he’s pretty much outgrown all the local playgrounds, especially the one at his preschool, and it’s not just him; I seldom see kids other than toddlers on any of the equipment. Rendering playgrounds no fun for anybody beyond toddlerhood is a pretty bad unintended consequence.

  45. James Pollock October 25, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

    ” Obviously, some regulations are justified.”
    This is one of them (see above)

    “My problem was with your assumption that regulations are self-justifying:”
    An assumption I don’t, and didn’t make. (see above)

    “you claimed because the one in question was already in place before the donation of the equipment, there’s nothing to object to here.”
    And you didn’t get this one right, either. Or are you advancing the theory that if *I* don’t personally object to something, then nobody can? Because, even if you are, you STILL missed my point… the builder who installed the play structure did it incorrectly. That would be, well, something to object to. Here.

    “You assert that this particular regulation is good.”
    Yes. I also explained why.

    “Many of us here dispute that.”
    If you are taking the position that fewer and less severe injuries to children is NOT good, I don’t think we have much to talk about.

    “The question is not simply whether there’s some real evil (in this case injuries caused by falls) they’re trying to prevent; for a regulation to be good, you have to also make sure it isn’t inadvertently causing equal or more harm in some other way.”
    If you have some kind of evidence that says soft surfaces under play structures causes injuries that are equal or more harm (in some other way) to what is prevented by falls, bring it out.

    “As I recall, your daughter is not little; I don’t know if you’re aware how deadly dull current playground equipment has become.”
    Putting a soft surface under a swingset makes it “deadly dull”?
    My niece is 3, but she’s a big 3. She isn’t complaining about being bored at the playground.
    They literally just came through a couple of months ago, and tore out EVERYTHING in the grade-school playground, and put in all new stuff. I haven’t seen it (installed) but it looks a lot like the old stuff, except for being made of brightly colorful plastic instead of metal.
    But back to the issue… What, exactly, has this to do with the requirement to put soft surfaces underneath it… a practice that was around back in the early 70’s, if not earlier?.

    “I seldom see kids other than toddlers on any of the equipment.”
    I rarely saw school-age kids on the old equipment, either. They’d rather play wallball or soccer. Back when I was in grade school, we played kickball, wallball, and football when the field wasn’t too muddy. The only playground equipment that got regular use during recess was one of the two sets of swings, because you could bail out of them and mark your distance in the sand. .

  46. Cinnamon October 25, 2016 at 11:43 pm #

    is this about risk
    or is this about fear of being sued ?
    the bureaucrats really don’t care that much the kids, they DO care a LOT about NOT being sued.

    It seems more that fear or lawyers is the root cause.

  47. James Pollock October 26, 2016 at 12:33 am #

    “is this about risk
    or is this about fear of being sued ?”

    Fear of being sued is about risk.
    They could, if they wanted to, let kids play on this thing right now. It would be a really bad idea, but they could do it. What’s going to happen is that, inevitably, some kids are going to fall off it. Many of those kids will be just fine, but eventually you’ll get one with a hyperextended knee, a broken arm, or some other serious injury.

    Now, at this point, maybe the parents agree with you… kids fall off playground equipment, sometimes they get hurt, that’s just bad luck, no big deal. But… their insurance company is going to take a different approach… they don’t want to pay out, so they’ll look for somebody else who might have legal liability. And guess what? The childcare facility that lets kids play on a play structure that isn’t maintained up to code, well… they have legal liability. And the insurance company is going to jump on that.
    You think the story ends there, but it doesn’t. The family’s health insurance company will call the facility’s liability insurance company (they may even be the same company!) to work it out. The liability insurance company, however, ALSO doesn’t want to pay out, so they dig in a bit. What do you think happens when they find out that the playground equipment was installed out-of-code, and the managers knew this, and let kids, including the injured kids, play on it anyway?
    That’s right. They decline to cover it. The liability falls squarely on management, and thus ownership, of the facility where the play structure was located.

    Now, if your complaint is that there are too many lawyers involved, take note… there are NO LAWYERS involved up to this point. They’re about to jump in.
    The family’s health insurance company having had to pay out to get the child treated, still wants to get that money back… so they sue the nice folks with legal liability. This is inevitable. The people who decided to let kids play on a sub-standard play structure will have to pay for the injuries that ensue. I suppose you could be optimistic, and hope that the inevitable serious injuries caused by kids falling off a play structure won’t happen until after you sell the whole thing to somebody else, but… they can still sue YOU after THEY get sued, so that’s no out. You can hope that nobody gets seriously hurt between now and when you can finally afford to install the proper surface under the play structure… but that’s tempting Murphy.

    The fact is, they’d have liability even if some kid snuck in after hours to play on the thing, and fell off and got hurt.

  48. elizabeth October 26, 2016 at 1:32 am #

    to my knowledge, you would have to be really clumsy to get scraped up on grass. mulch, not so much. I once fell and scraped my hip (of all places, why the hip?) when I slipped off the sidewalk at my middle school in sixth grade. I am the one who trips on flat carpet, falls down the ascending escalator, and turns a bike upside down while doing a wheelie. mulch, make my clumsy kid self safer? bahahahahahahaha!

  49. James Pollock October 26, 2016 at 2:10 am #

    It’s pretty hard to get a scrape on mulch, either… we had full-on wood chips.
    Still better than a broken bone.

  50. sexhysteria October 26, 2016 at 5:09 am #

    I hope the mulch is hygienic. What about alternative activities like buddy massage in the classroom until hygienic mulch funding can be obtained?

  51. Katie G October 26, 2016 at 6:51 am #

    And that’s a swingset. Not even a big playground, but the kind of swingset that’s sold for families to have in their back yards- over…wait for it…grass.

  52. BL October 26, 2016 at 6:54 am #

    I’m just cynical enough to believe someone’s getting kickbacks from the mulch lobby.

  53. Juluho October 26, 2016 at 7:30 am #

    This is gross but important. My son fell in the mulch on the school playground a few years ago and tore up his knee pretty bad. A week or so after the fall I noticed the knee was bulging and lightly pressed on it and an imbedded wood chip (not a splinter anactual wood chip!) pussed out of his knee. I cannot overstate the gag factor. Half an inch long, quarter inch wide.
    Who knows what *could have happpened* if it stayed in longer. Infection? Scar tissue? Surgery? Maybe, it would have worked it’s way out anyway. He’s also ran into the metal swing poles and cracked his head, fallen off the monkey bars (my husband broke his arm this way in grade school).
    Point being: there is no guarantee of safety, let the kids play on the playground.
    I haven’t seen any reports that mulch makes playing safer, but I have seen report after report that recess is fundamental to a child’s academic success. But once again, we ignore actual studies and stats and focus on imaginary bs.

  54. Michelle October 26, 2016 at 8:48 am #

    Juluho, I guess YOU should have sued the school/city wherever the playground was. I don’t like mulch or get why it is supposed to be so safe either. All the stuff James is talking about makes my head spin and it also makes me wonder, if this goes further could there be a time when the insurance company tells ME they will not pay if my child got hurt playing somewhere they consider substandard (maybe my own backyard) . Because then I might as well not have insurance and pay cash to begin with. I find insurance to be the bane of my existence anyway and the fact that you can insure yourself against any perceived tragedy just adds to the paranoia. Why doesn’t it sink in that the most dangerous thing you do with your child every day is put them in a car? The same overprotective my kid is not playing on the jungle gym and never will be out of my sight parents won’t even buckle their kids car seat right.

  55. Juluho October 26, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    Michelle, as much as we all dream of a frivolous lawsuit payday so we can retire to some place warm and on the ocean (preferably) I’m not sure what the lawsuit would be! I know you’re joking, but honestly my son is a walking disaster. I don’t know if it’s all boys or mine but the stitches, skin glue, ER visits, calls from the school… recently he swallowed mechanical pencil lead that imbedded in his tosnil and that was a ER visit (and no I’m not talking about a toddler, I’m talking about a kid closer to driving and voting than he is the baby years). So, maybe I should sue him. There are a lot of lawyers on this board- are there any examples of suing kids for frivolous doctor bills? (Kidding- sarcasm)

    Anyway, point well taken. Will insurance stop covering childhood? But what is safe anyway? Every time my lil Tasmania devil has needed a ER visit, I was within 10 ft of him when he injured himself. Life is rough and corners can be sharp. Our home is safety itself, our neighborhood, our yard, the school… yet they still mange to hurt themselves.
    Speaking of school and liability, I need the school officials to get on diseases and illness. Many, if not most, schools have cut part time workers like janitors. Illnesses spread through the schools like like the plague. What’s a broken arm compared the the flu? Hand foot and mouth, fifths disease, rotavirus, strep, etc. Where’s the concern trolling from the insurance companies? Why aren’t we demanding hazmat teams at every school? (Heavy on the sarcasm)

  56. bob magee October 26, 2016 at 10:06 am #

    It was in the ’30’s this morning here on the East Coast.

    Imagine my joy when the hot air started blowing in from the Pacific NW

  57. PacMom October 26, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    I’ve practiced Emergency Medicine currently in an Urgent Care Walk In Clinic. 2 things : 1-School nurses in my town generally have common sense but feel pressured to tell parents every bump /bruise “Should get checked by a Medical Professional “. I think this undermines most parents ability to take care of their own kids and causes needless medical bills. 2-I have seen fractures from the craziest simple accidents. It’s not the Surface that matters. It’s a complicated combination of body position and angle and torque. Just set a fractured finger from catching a ball!

  58. Scott Eberle October 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm #

    No wonder we’re turning into a Nation of Wimps, as your colleague Hara Estroff Marano put it, memorably. Keep ’em coming Lenore!

  59. Anna October 26, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    ‘“Many of us here dispute that.”
    If you are taking the position that fewer and less severe injuries to children is NOT good, I don’t think we have much to talk about.’

    Really? I imagine we could reduce injuries to children by strapping them down in hospital beds. Or by preventing kids from learning to walk. Sure, they’d probably have far more bedsores, mental illnesses, diabetes, and heart-attacks, but there would be less traumas and injuries!

    So that’s an exaggeration, but the point is, no, reducing injuries is not in and of itself desirable. For instance, if we decrease injuries by 50% at the cost of decreasing children’s outdoor play by 50%, that sounds to me like a terrible bargain. And if you look up the stats on how much time kids spend playing outside today, I don’t believe that’s an exaggeration at all.

  60. Anna October 26, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    “If you have some kind of evidence that says soft surfaces under play structures causes injuries that are equal or more harm (in some other way) to what is prevented by falls, bring it out.”

    But the point is, injuries are not the only form of harm there is. Loss of something good is also harm. The more important the good lost, the graver the harm. In this story, the harm was that poor children whose community couldn’t afford a play structure couldn’t even have a donated one because of regulations that made it unaffordable for them. Another form of harm is the dumbing down of play-structures dictated by the same set of regulations (as a whole, not the surface specifications in particular) which forbid challenging climbs, heights, etc., that could make the structure appeal to non-toddlers.

    And yes, old-school equipment really was more fun. I remember my 9th grade year specifically, because we’d just moved, and I remember taking my younger siblings to the local playground. Yes, I went because I was taking the younger kids, but actually, I enjoyed the playground myself because it was tall and challenging (one of those structures built mostly from 10×10 timbers and metal bars) and presented all kinds of opportunities for risky-feeling climbing, jumping, etc. Similarly, I’ve never seen my son have as much fun at a playground as when we met a friend who lives in a poorer neighborhood; their outdated equipment included a whirligig – long eradicated from middle class neighborhoods because it’s so “dangerous.” The whole group of kids there, ranging from babyhood to 8 or so, were magically drawn to it and played with nothing else the whole time.

  61. James Pollock October 26, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    ” the point is, no, reducing injuries is not in and of itself desirable.”
    I think I’m on the majority side when I argue that reducing injuries is, in and of itself, desirable.

    ” if you look up the stats on how much time kids spend playing outside today”
    Kids don’t play outside because the ground under the playground equipment is made of shock-absorbing materials?
    But… the ground under playground equipment was made of shock-absorbing materials back when I was a kid, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and we played outside plenty. I just don’t think this argument holds water.

    “the point is, injuries are not the only form of harm there is. Loss of something good is also harm.”
    The only thing that is lost in requiring soft surfaces under play structures is the opportunity to fall off a play structure onto a hard surface. It’s a stretch to call that “something good”.

    “Did I say all regulations are bad just because they’re regulations?”
    “…form of harm is the dumbing down of play-structures dictated by the same set of regulations (as a whole, not the surface specifications in particular)…”

    We’re back to you arguing that this regulation is bad because it’s a regulation, and regulations are bad.

    “And yes, old-school equipment really was more fun.”
    The fun comes from you, not the equipment.

  62. Jill R October 26, 2016 at 10:37 pm #

    This is just as asinine as several years ago when my former employer, the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka (in Ontario, Canada) decreed that our before and after-school programs will no longer be allowing the school-aged children to play on the climbers/playground equipment while they are under the Y’s care. So during school-time, these same kids are free to play all over the equipment, but before school or after school, when the ratio of adults-to-children goes WAY up (more supervision!), nope. Sorry kids, the YMCA bureaucrats are too lazy to speak to the school board bureaucrats and get copies of the inspection reports, so the thousands of school-agers across our region get to miss out.

  63. Donna October 27, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    “And yes, old-school equipment really was more fun.”

    I don’t remember it being in general more fun, although you could find a pretty cool playground here or there. I haven’t consistently had any interest in playing on a playground since I was about 10. There were times that I played on a playground after that, but by 10, we had largely moved on to other outside activities.

    And that is okay. I am perfectly fine with the idea that my child no longer wants to go to the playground regularly. I don’t expect a single activity to hold her interest from 0-18. We were at a new place last weekend and she did want to play on the playgrounds (I think we hit 3 of them) because there was new stuff there. And I think that is where your logically fallacy lies.

    “I remember my 9th grade year specifically, because we’d just moved,”
    “Similarly, I’ve never seen my son have as much fun at a playground as when we met a friend who lives in a poorer neighborhood; their outdated equipment included a whirligig”

    Note that both your only examples detailed situations where something NEW attracted your interest. My guess is that had you actually encountered that playground at age 9 instead of in 9th grade, you would not still have been interested in it in 9th grade (although you may have occasionally played on it because … well, it was there and you were there and playing on it is more fun than just sitting). Same with the whirligig. Your son had great fun on it because it was new, not because it was more dangerous than other playscapes. My daughter would love it too … for the first couple times and then it would get old. She may still play on it if we happened to find ourselves at the playground, but would not seek it out as a fun thing to do.

  64. Cynthia812 October 27, 2016 at 9:12 am #

    About ten years ago, I worked for an after school program that was run on school grounds. About halfway through the year, an inspector came and put several pieces of the playground equipment off limits for this same mulch issue. Just for the afterschool program. So I had to explain to the kids that the equipment they used at recess suddenly became dangerous every day at 3PM. I’ll bet they thought I was nuts.

  65. AlanaM October 27, 2016 at 10:15 am #

    My son and his friends love doing flips and cartwheels and other parkour at school. They are 13 and 14 and only do it on nice squishy grass at school which is rare (CA drought and all). They were told yesterday they couldn’t do it anymore. Good luck with enforcing that.

  66. Anna October 27, 2016 at 2:42 pm #

    “Note that both your only examples detailed situations where something NEW attracted your interest. My guess is that had you actually encountered that playground at age 9 instead of in 9th grade, you would not still have been interested in it in 9th grade (although you may have occasionally played on it because … well, it was there and you were there and playing on it is more fun than just sitting). Same with the whirligig. Your son had great fun on it because it was new, not because it was more dangerous than other playscapes.”

    Maybe but I don’t think so. The structure I enjoyed as a 9th grader was fun because you could do real climbing on it – things that felt like feats of agility and strength. Feeling agile and strong is fun. Most contemporary, regulation-compliant structures do not offer the opportunity for any kind of physical challenge for people more than 3 feet tall. That’s why they’re not fun.

    As for the whirligig, my friend who lives by that park says it’s in continual use, always by multiple kids together, which was certainly true the whole time I was there, and not just by the kids we were there with but likewise others, presumably local. I don’t know that it’s because it’s dangerous as such, but because it’s fast and allows for lots of (slightly aggressive) interaction and, well yes, probably at least partly because it FEELS dangerous.

  67. James Pollock October 27, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    Supporting your theory, Anna, is the situation at pretty much any major theme park… there’s rides and activities for adults and larger kids, and a separate play area (that might or might not be fairly extensive) for smaller children. You don’t see the bigger kids in the little kids area… they’d rather go on the roller-coaster or whatever.

    But, overall, I still think Donna is closer to the truth… older kids are tired of the playground equipment because they’ve used up the fun, not because there was no fun there to be had. Kids that like to climb who turn into adults who like to climb move on to climbing other things, like big rocks. You can get older kids to play on a playground, if it’s new or novel… we have this place nearby: http://tree2treeadventurepark.com I’ve been there, and I thought it WAS fun… but my daughter, big enough at the time to attempt the adult course, did NOT find it fun because she barely had the reach to complete the challenges.

    Which brings up the main problem with presenting challenges suitable to larger children and adults… by their very nature, they require strength, reach, etc that smaller children are not yet capable of. This is why such challenges are set up on a “pay as you go” basis rather than “here’s the stuff… go to it” basis. You either have something that is reasonably safe for literally anybody who might get on it, or you have to have a way to keep the people it’s not designed for off of it.

    By the time they hit, oh, around ten, with some variability, kids are less interested in playground equipment and more interested in playground games. So, that’s what gets designed for them. If you take a bunch of 12-year-olds and turn them loose on a playground, they’ll be more likely to form up a soccer game, or a wallball game, than tag (assuming you have the appropriate equipment available) In my youth, it was kickball, but that game seems to have lost its sway over the intervening period.) This is not because the playground equipment is “no fun”… the playground equipment is exactly as fun as it was when these kids were 6, and they loved it. It’s because the kids have developed new interests.

    Last summer, the 12-year-olds were ignoring the playground equipment to catch Pokemon on their phones. I don’t think nearly as many will be doing that next summer. Is that because the game has suddenly become “no fun”, or because the kids have already extracted the fun that was in it, and want something new?
    When my daughter was little, we used to make a point of travelling to other schools to try out their playgrounds. Why? They had stuff the local school didn’t have. One of her favorites (still, and she’s graduating from college this year) was at a nearby, but not the closest, grade school. Would she still like playing on this equipment if she’d gone to that school and had access to it every day? I don’t think so.

  68. Donna October 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    We went to New Zealand when my daughter was 7. Very common in playgrounds in New Zealand are flying foxes. These are small backyard ziplines. No gear needed; just jump off a platform holding a handle and dangle while riding to the other side. This was my daughter’s first exposure to ziplines and she fell head over heels in love. She will still tell you that it was her favorite thing about New Zealand.

    Today at 11, my daughter does canopy tours hundreds of feet up in the trees on ziplines that travel at high speeds and require harnesses and brakes. The lure of the backyard zipline is gone. She’ll do it a few times if we happen to be where there is one because it is still a rarity in her life, but they bore her quickly. If we had installed the backyard zipline that she wanted years ago, I highly doubt that she would ever use it anymore. That doesn’t mean that flying foxes are not super fun for entry-level ziplining; just that she is no longer an entry-level zipliner.

    I don’t think anyone would reasonably argue that a flying fox 500 feet off the ground and traveling at a speed of 30mph should be installed on a playground with open access to anyone so that playgrounds are still appealing to 11 year olds. Playgrounds are entry-level fun; not advanced fun. Always have been. Advanced fun takes skill and is not something that we want to be open access. And that is okay. It is the natural expectation in life that you are not going to be doing things at the exact same level of challenge for your entire life.

    After some exposure, most people move from entry-level fun to advanced fun. We master entry-level fun and move onto bigger and bigger challenges until we hit our personal peak of fun. A person going down the same slide for years and still finding it challenging and exciting is not the mark of a good playground. It is the mark of a person who peaked for sliding at entry-level.

  69. James Pollock October 29, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    “Very common in playgrounds in New Zealand are flying foxes. These are small backyard ziplines. No gear needed; just jump off a platform holding a handle and dangle while riding to the other side. This was my daughter’s first exposure to ziplines and she fell head over heels in love.”

    The playground “toy” that was referring to above is a similar item, except that it is horizontal and requires something other than gravity to motivate the rider along the track. My daughter loved it from the time she got enough grip strength to stay on it. They didn’t have anything like it on her school’s playground.

  70. Donna October 29, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

    “Supporting your theory, Anna, is the situation at pretty much any major theme park… there’s rides and activities for adults and larger kids, and a separate play area (that might or might not be fairly extensive) for smaller children. You don’t see the bigger kids in the little kids area… they’d rather go on the roller-coaster or whatever.”

    Which actually proves my point, not Anna’s. We don’t expect a single amusement park ride to appeal to everyone from age 2 to 15 (Many Disney rides are exceptions to this because they focus much more on the production of the ride than the thrill-level). We don’t complain that Dumbo’s Flying Elephants is not made to interest everyone, but rather accept that Dumbo has a limited shelf-life and move onto Space Mountain when Dumbo gets boring. I just don’t understand this insistence that a single slide should entertain everyone from age 1 to 18 and forever even if they ride on that slide every day. That is absurd and something we do not expect from any other venue.

    Look at Legoland (the amusement park). That is geared pretty exclusively to littler kids. I can’t imagine anyone over the age of 10 who is not an extreme ride wimp having a great time there. I am a major ride wimp who detests most amusement park rides and I find most of the rides there boring. People are not protesting, demanding that Legoland install extreme roller coasters so that everyone can be happy. They simply accept that at some point Legoland gives way to Six Flags. Same with Chuck E Cheese and many other places that are geared towards young kids.

    It would be great if playgrounds could function on the level of amusements parks with lands for every different skill level, but unfortunately playgrounds don’t have the luxury of being 107 acres big with hundreds of employees to monitor that the amusements are being used correctly, so they need to limit themselves to catering to a single, uncomplicated group.

  71. Donna October 29, 2016 at 5:07 pm #

    “The playground “toy” that was referring to above is a similar item, except that it is horizontal and requires something other than gravity to motivate the rider along the track.”

    These are horizontal as well. They definitely require a forceful movement off the initial platform. You can’t just step off the platform and make it all the way to the other end.

  72. James Pollock October 29, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

    You described it as a “zipline”. Ours is more like a rollerskate on a rail with a handle underneath. And no platform, so you can get a good running start at it (once you’re tall enough. The problem is the thing is suspended about 5 feet off the ground, which was a problem for my 2.5 foot tall daughter.

  73. James Pollock October 29, 2016 at 5:52 pm #

    “Which actually proves my point, not Anna’s. We don’t expect a single amusement park ride to appeal to everyone from age 2 to 15”

    The problem with amusement park rides is the sign next to them that says “you must be at least this tall to go on this ride.” I have memories, 45 years later, of being under that line for everything I wanted to do at Disneyland (which has thoroughly wimpy rides, because it’s aimed at younger children… which I was at that point.) I went back, 20 years later, and BY FAR the most entertaining thing to do was to try to get Snow White to break character. between tykes. However, I think “Ferris Wheel” is your “ride that appeals to everybody from 2 to 15.” There’s another one that used to be my favorite, and it wasn’t a “ride” at all… you just stood there, on the ground, while they projected images that covered your entire field of vision, including peripheral. They had a number of them… a roller-coaster, flying on a helicopter through some rough terrain, a car chase from the point of view of the front bumper. That one works for pretty much all ages.

    The difference between a theme park and a school or park playground is that a theme park as attendants, to make sure the safety equipment is engaged before the ride starts, and they can screen out people who should not be on the ride. A playground has to be reasonably safe no matter who shows up or what they try to do. This puts a top end on how much actual danger a piece of playground equipment can present. If your only source of “fun” is “I faced danger and emerged”, then yeah, playground equipment is going to be “no fun” once your sense of what is dangerous no longer includes being 5 feet off the ground.

    I stand on my original claim, however… the fun comes from within. It’s not built into the equipment. If a playground has no fun, it’s due to lack of imagination.

  74. Kimberly Bowman Famighetti October 29, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

    If it’s any consolation, at my daughter’s school (private, progressive) last year when attending a brainstorming meeting about improving the playground, the school’s founder/director specifically instructed us not to worry about liability and he he didn’t want our ideas to be hindered by worries about being sued. He wanted us to think about great ideas for kid’s play only. There is hope out there.

  75. VR October 30, 2016 at 9:33 am #

    Good gods, they really have their heads so far up their own asses they don’t even have a concept of reality.

  76. Anna October 30, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

    “Look at Legoland (the amusement park). That is geared pretty exclusively to littler kids. I can’t imagine anyone over the age of 10 who is not an extreme ride wimp having a great time there.”

    Side point obviously, but I’ve been to the original Legoland (in Denmark) and this isn’t true at all. I mean, no, it’s not about rids – AT ALL – but that doesn’t mean it’s for little kids only. It consists 99% of beautiful scale models of real world cities and fairy tale villages, all built out of Lego. Rides is nothing to do with it. I went there at 17 and was entranced – especially when my mother’s cousin was able – in all seriousness – to point to a tiny yellow brick house and say, “That’s the house my mother was born in.”

    But I guess from an American perspective, rides are all a person could possibly care about. . .

  77. James Pollock October 30, 2016 at 11:51 pm #

    “But I guess from an American perspective, rides are all a person could possibly care about”

    You are apparently unfamiliar with Disneyland, which ALSO has amazingly wimpy rides because it is geared for 6-year-olds.

  78. Anna October 31, 2016 at 12:07 am #

    “You are apparently unfamiliar with Disneyland, which ALSO has amazingly wimpy rides because it is geared for 6-year-olds.”

    I think you missed the point, which is that Legoland is NOT for 6-year-olds, but for people whose enjoyments extend beyond kinesthetic overstimulation. I went the at 17 with a 40-year-old second cousin, her two sons (one 7 and one 13) and an elderly great-aunt, and we all thought it was awesome. There may or may not have been “rides” but it didn’t occur to any of us to seek them out. That wasn’t the point. Legoland is more like a tiny, carefully-scaled sculpture gallery of replicas of famous cities, complete with tiny motorized ferry-boats and cars and bonsai flora.

    As I said, obviously worthy only of scorn to the average American tourist, whose only interest is losing his lunch on a roller coaster, but some of us have different tastes. . .

  79. derfel cadarn November 1, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    It is times like this when I wonder how humanity survived to this point. My greatest fear is that humanity will die from stupidity.

  80. James Pollock November 1, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

    “I think you missed the point, which is that Legoland is NOT for 6-year-olds”

    I don’t think I did, because that’s not the point I addressed. I addressed the statement regarding how to Americans, rides are all that matter in an amusement park. The most famous amusement park in America has wimpy rides.

    I live in a bit of an amusement park “desert”… the attractions in these parts tend to be natural… rock climbing at Smith Rock, surfing at the coast, skiing in the mountains, windsurfing in the Columbia Gorge. The closest thing we have to a permanent amusement park is the historic “Oaks park” (nearly all rides suitable for 6-year-olds, old-school skating rink with hardwood floor) and the water park attached to the air and space museum. (Suitable for 6-year-olds, if they can swim)