Build your own adventure, or at least your own forts and prepare for a playful battle! The Adventure Playground is a unique playpen built by the community in the Bay Area, this place is one of a kind! Give it a try and bring your kids and your friends!
On the coast of California, tucked into the Marina among the docks and piers, there’s a place awaiting your discovery. It’s the aptly named Adventure Playground, where you can have as much fun as the kids too!
From the moment you see the sign at the Playground’s entrance, you can feel that this place is special, and it is! This is mostly because a great amount of the experience has been designed by kids, and thus it has tremendous appeal to our inner children! There’s a certain spirit of freedom and fun that cannot be described, but I will say that my first steps had me grinning with excitement.
The craftsmanship of children and their supervisors, the park looks a little rugged, a little unfinished. Actually, this is how I envision a city for lost children would look; Think of the Lost Boys’ village in Hook. Wooden panels jut out in every direction, sloppily assembled and hastily painted. Everybody leaves a trace of themselves behind, and much of the decor is basically graffiti from kids. Some write their names, others leave hand prints, and still others paint dinosaurs and rocket ships. It’s all one colorful, sloppy (but beautiful) canvas.
I had the pleasure of accompanying my best friend and his step daughter to the park. Immediately after signing in (this is required), Maddie was sprinting for the closest structure in sight. At first we were somewhat concerned about the stability of these forts and slides, but rest assured; They can handle the weight of these kids, at least. In, about, around, under, through… She absolutely couldn’t contain her excitement! Neither could I, for that matter. I immediately set out to photograph as many of the creations as I could with the allotted film. I brought a Canon AE-1 along for the ride, and a few rolls of Elitechrome 200 to document the experience.
There were tire swings, forts, ropes, nets, slides, towers, and other standard playground structures, of course. The details made each unique, but the real treasure was in the rest of the ruins. The Adventure Playground has a number of old boats and Kayaks that make great hide-outs, for example. There are a few “dead pianos”, the remains of once-grand instruments. They still play sounds, but in their physical decay they find new beauty. I also loved the small cement holes, a great place to hop in and hide when the parents come calling. Oh! And a zip line! A ZIP LINE!!!
There’s so much more than I could possibly explain to you in one article, and the truth is… why bother? This place is in a constant state of change. As I mentioned previously, one of the joys is that this place was built by the hands of the community. When the kids get bored of playing, you can take them to get some tools. However, to earn the right to build, children must bring 5 nails that they found at or around the playground, 5 pieces of trash, or an alternative. In short, they must help out before they can have fun. Paints and tools are provided, and the kids can go crazy and put together anything their hearts desire! Of course, all of this under adult supervision.
I’d burned through two full rolls before the sun’s heat began to wear on us. As it turned out, I didn’t compensate for the reflection of light on the dirt/sand, so a handful of my images were overexposed. Regardless, I had a blast taking pictures, and I think I walked away with a great selection of usable snaps!
All in all, this place is a blast. If this were around when I was 8, I’d pretty much have slept there. Bear in mind that your children will emerge filthy, as will you; After all, they’ll want your help and your attention throughout it all! You’ll spend just as much time crawling and chasing as they will. Bring your own lunch, as there’s another playground and a picnic area next door.
Have fun, and happy photographing!