Last year, we were awarded a contract by the U.S. Navy to build natural playgrounds at four separate bases in the U.S. for the families of Navy personnel to enjoy. We recently completed the contract and are thrilled with the results!
The playgrounds, located at child care centers on naval bases Kitsap-Bangor, Kings Bay, Murphy Canyon, and Pensacola, featured components such as local plants and boulders, mounds, and tree-surround seating areas to contribute to the authenticity of the neighboring environment. Each natural playground was custom-built blending natural elements and some traditional playground equipment to provide children the ability to play and interact with their natural surroundings while promoting an active, healthy lifestyle.
All four playgrounds covered large areas at each base. We utilized a number of surfacing options throughout these areas. Poured-in-Place (PIP) Rubberized Surfacing was used strategically and complimented with sand, engineered wood fiber, and synthetic grass in high traffic areas. These components were carefully selected based on their safety, durability, and reduced need for water and maintenance.
Each playground offered lots of spaces for preschool age kids to enjoy and interact with the environment around them. Gardens, in particular, were sprinkled throughout each of the natural playgrounds for this purpose. These garden areas provide a place to see nature evolve while also allowing kids to be a part of the maintenance with periodic watering and weeding.
Several of the playgrounds included custom mounding, like the one above at Murphy Canyon. These mounds provide a great place for kids to roll and run around and will withstand the elements (and the kids!) without expensive upkeep like watering and re-sodding.
Tree trunk seating areas were added to allow places for kids to sit and contemplate or play alone but also an ideal place for a teacher to give a lesson. Water troughs and outdoor musical instruments were installed to encourage a multitude of sensory activities. Play stages were included for dramatic play. Trike trails weaved through the playgrounds to safely route kids on tricycles and provide paths to different sections of the playgrounds. These components, along with several others not mentioned, help to create an outdoor learning environment for children to fully reap the benefits of outdoor play while developing socially and cognitively.
The storage, seating, and play structures placed throughout the areas were crafted from recycled high density polyethylene (HDPE) or more commonly called recycled plastic, a low-maintenance manufacturing alternative we use often in our playgrounds that is weather-resistant and extremely durable. Recycled plastic is uniquely fabricated to combat the drawbacks associated with traditional building materials such as rust, rot, and water absorption. Additionally recycled plastic keeps millions of milk jugs and other recyclables out of landfills, allowing us to repurpose these items into a safe play environment that can one day be recycled again for yet another use.
Our natural playgrounds at all four locations will have a lasting impact and provide a safe play environment for years to come. By crafting playgrounds from eco-friendly and natural materials, we’re teaching children the true value of being good stewards of our environment and allowing them the opportunity to learn from it firsthand. We believe that these earth-conscious ideals, along with our design and manufacturing ingenuity, are key components in creating natural playgrounds and outdoor learning environments that are safe, dependable and most importantly, fun!