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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parks and Play: Just Add Adults . . . Please!

As a kid I was never interested in what was happening in the classroom. I wanted to play, and play just didn't seem to happen indoors for me. Indoors meant having to sit still, sit up straight, pay attention, stop eating the paste . . . I don't think I ever did this, but seriously - I was a real pain in the keester for every teacher I had at Orville Wright Elementary School. Poor Ms. Bravo, poor Mrs. Peters. They were my favorite teachers, but nothing they seemed to do could get my mind off the playground and into my school work.

Perhaps becoming a parks and recreation professional was the logical path for me. I will never claim to be very bright and stumbling onto leisure as a field of study is proof of that (I should mention I spent 7 years in community college trying to figure that out, but I'm glad I did). Leisure, recreation, parks and play are my passion, especially when you see the benefits they have in the lives of individuals, families and communities. In California, "Parks Make Life Better!" is our profession's brand promise, and I have yet to meet anyone who didn't agree with this statement.

I love play. Even today I love playing basketball. I also love playing nerf ball tennis. Scott and Kaisa are two people I work with and for a while we would play tennis, using foam tennis balls, inside our Rec Center gym (mainly because it was cold and wet outside). Man, is it fun! One day we started playing the game with two (2) balls in play - it wore us out, but we had a blast. We modified the game again and said all walls and the ceiling were in play and if either ball comes to a stop on your side of the net, your team loses. We lasted about 5 minutes, but it felt like forever, and so we named this game 'Forever Ball'. I think we need more play like that where we make the game up as we go along.

Back outside now . . . you heard me . . . go outside and play!

We need to get outside and play, especially adults. Of course kids need to get outside and play, too, but we adults would benefit greatly from some goofing around, playing silly games, and simply being more active for the sake of fun and laughter. In his article, "It's Called Play", Jay Heinrichs talks about the benefits of play for adults and the value of putting recess back into our daily lives. Now that we're all grown-up (well, at least all of you), that recess can take place in our local parks . . . and no need to worry about the school bell ringing.

Duck, duck, goose anyone?


  1. I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog. Your philosophy and mine are the same. I'm all for adults getting outside and moving around, having more of a sense of play in their lives. When did "play" become "working out"?

    1. Good question. My guess would be that play became working out because it become obligatory, something we had to do.

      For me personally, I have certain things I do for the physical challenge (swimming and weights), but I try to add in things I really enjoy that are play (basketball and tennis). I'm not very good at the latter, but I do them because of the social component - playing with friends. In fact, that may be more of a motivator than playing the game. I tried playing baseball as an adult without people I knew and found I didn't enjoy it because the friendships never developed, despite my love for the game.

      So what I've learned about myself is that I want to have fun and I want to have fun with friends in activites that require teams. I'm competitive, but winning is not as important as enjoyment and relationships. I also know I enjoy doing things I don't normally enjoy (like running and swimming) if I can be part of a group and/or have specific goals that are achieveable and I can see myself improving/progressing.