Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lake Wateree State Park Gets New Playground Equipment

All of us who’ve taken children and/or grandchildren on our RV trips know how few destinations there are that appeal to all ages. Sadly, camping alone doesn’t seem to excite 21st century children the way it did their parents and grandparents. Too much competition from electronic gadgets, I guess.

Parks and other camping destinations have recognized that change, and do what they can to provide opportunities for all ages.

Here’s a fine example of an “electronic alternative” right here at Lake Wateree State Park, South Carolina.

Playground equipment designed for children from 5 to 12 years of age. At least, according to the manufacturer’s sign you see to the left here. That sounds about right to me, having watched grandchildren near both ends of the age spectrum enjoy the various challenges available in these compact, well designed packages. Sure beats a video game or a wide-screened TV!

Exciting, yes. But not dangerous. Lots of attention to safety and to accessibility. Kids fully enjoying these sets may bounce off the ground a time or two. Here, a thick layer of spongy cedar chips has been spread to limit damage. Also note the access ramp in the photo above. Another great feature.

I’m no playground equipment expert. But this installation appears to provide a surprisingly wide variety of physical challenges for the younger crowd. With emphasis on climbing and balance. Click on the photo above to see the 21st century version of the “monkey bars” most of us remember from our primary school days. A fall here onto soft cedar chips, however, won’t automatically require a trip to the school nurse’s office! A welcome difference.

And look at this! A genuine “suspension bridge”! One that gives a sense of secure instability as the child tramps across, the Indiana Jones theme ringing in his or her ears. I tried out the bridge myself. It flexes up and down almost as if it were made of vines and logs. Just add imagination! Something the 5-12-year-old set has in abundance.

Finally, here’s a special feature. Accessible only after climbing up to the upper deck. A telescope! Solidly mounted, but moveable in all directions. Ready to spy out potential hostiles on the horizon, whether ashore or afloat.

So, next time you visit Lake Wateree State Park, take along one or more members of the 5-12 set. You’ll find this delightful playground near the Park Office and lakeside picnic area. Enjoy.

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