Today, as our June "Discovering California" activity, we visited, probably the most fun place I have ever been too: Adventure Playland in Berkley (or Burpley, according to Mia). There are a TON of pictures here, so sorry if it gets tedious. Be sure to look at each one, because I will plant more text here and there just to keep your attention.
We found this place in a book I bought Val about things to do in the area. The description was pretty vague. It described it as a playground that had tools for the kids to play with. I was imagining some kind of outdoor , hands-on museum or something.
As we got close to it, I got worried. I only caught a glimpse through the trees, but I asked Val if she was sure this place was open. She said it should be, because it was after 10:00. I clarified that I meant open in the "not out of business" sort of way, because, well, It looked condemned.
We parked and started walking toward it and this is what we saw.
Except that there were kids playing on the structures.
As we walked in the entrance gate, we were required to sign a waiver for our kids. Imediately after that, there was a little shed with hammers, saws, clamps, and nails. on the other side were small tables built out of scrap wood.
I figured this must be the hands-on part. I guess the kids would have some fun putting nails into some small scrap wood, or cutting a piece with a hand saw. We asked to use some tools and the guy in the shed pointed us to the sign beside us. It said that you have to earn the tools by doing things like finding 10 nails on the ground (they even gave you a huge magnet on the end of a rope that you could just drag around as you played and it would pick up any nails around), or finding 5 large (finger sized)splinters, or trash, etc. I thought, Hey that's a pretty cool way of helping keep the place safe and clean. We got a magnet and set about playing on the various, scrap-wood structures.
There were even several graffiti covered, abandoned boats to play in.
CJ's favorite was the zip wire.
Pretty soon we had found enough nails. We traded them in and each of the kids grabbed a hammer or saw and some scrap wood and took them to the work tables and hammered or cut.
The kid's interest in that lasted about 5 minutes. They were ready to go back and play. Then I had a revelation. I overheard one of the workers explaining to someone that if they wanted to build a roof, they had to make it slanted so nobody would mistake it for a floor and fall through.
A choior of angels began to sing and the brightness of the day became more glorious.
This entire place was built by the kids (and their parents) who played there! The point of earning the tools was so you could then build on to anything you wanted to. You could even demolish walls and rebuild them to your own liking.
These were not cheap, scrap wood, graffiti-covered play structures. They were forts! Clubhouses! Treeless treehouses! Each one painted beautifully by it's occupants.
I grabbed the kids and their tools and dragged them to the largest fort. As we went by, I saw they had bins filled with scrap wood of all types and sizes! This is better than any toy or candy store!
We grabbed a few boards and went to work adding a little room to the fort.
Xander was amazing. He would take a nail and get it started all by himself!
We found a junked windsurf board and used it on one of the walls. Here is our finished section of the fort.
We would have finished more, but Xander was ready for a nap, so we had to go. On our way back to the car, we took a look at our work and Val pointed out that someone had given the fort an appropriate name. (It's in red just above the fence on the right side.)
Our wall may not even exist anymore by the end of the day, but that's what make this place so awesome. Everybody gets to change it however they want.
It turned out to be so much fun. I wish some of my Brothers and sisters could come out and visit us so I could have another excuse to go to adventure land.
We could even get a babysitter to watch the kids ;)