A Focal Point for Fitness

Also, if the owners give permission, take photos of the playgrounds, and obtain a contact number for the key person responsible for the playground facility.

Before making a decision on a piece of equipment, be sure to do your own research on the various manufacturers/vendors before you do business. Use the following guidelines:

· Make a list of the recommended companies.

· Do a Web search to locate and review each manufacturer.

· Make a request for proposal (RFP) and interview manufacturers.

· Ask for references and contact information of camps that already own the playground equipment.

· Consider the types of safety standards to be met. A valuable Web site for more information is The National Program for Playground Safety (www.playgroundsafety.org).

· Determine whether the manufacturer is willing to make a presentation to your research team.

· Examine whether the company sends its own employees to construct the playground or if a local contractor is hired for installation. If a local contractor is sent, find out how quality assurance is monitored.

Following these guidelines takes time, but it is time well-spent when you consider that the average playground costs range from $20,000 to $80,000 (and could be even higher depending on the size and type of site preparation required).

Details, Details

Two additional considerations can give you even more reason to make the purchase of a playground the center of attention. The first is that you can make a portfolio of all the documentation you gather, including photos, RFPs, notes from playground visits and phone interviews with manufacturers. Take that information, as well as printouts from Web sites, applicable regulations for safety requirements and the credentials of your research team, to help make the best decision when purchasing the equipment. Also, if an injury does occur and there are legal proceedings, you have a great case by sharing your research portfolio and adding to it with your schedule of safety inspections, maintenance and repairs.

And be sure to celebrate. Have a grand opening, and invite the public, including the media. Thank your research team, talk about how the playground benefits campers’ development, and show how much care went into the playground’s design and development by sharing what you have documented in your portfolio. Invite questions about what you learned. It is a great opportunity to showcase the addition to the facility and send a message to the public that you are a camp business owner who makes thoughtful decisions because you care about your campers’ development and safety.

Susan Langlois has over 25 years experience as a college professor, athletic administrator, camp director and sports facilities consultant. She is currently the campus director at Springfield College School of Human Services in Manchester and St. Johnsbury, N.H. She can be reached at susan.langlois@comcast.net

Jennifer Dunnells is a business professional and community organizer. She has been an active parent in many community educational and recreational groups. She was chair of the Garrison School Playground Development Task Force in Dover, N.H. She has also been an advocate for children with disabilities and home schools her son, who has autism.

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  1. A “Point-ed” Conversation
  2. Making Fitness Fun
  3. If I Had Three Wishes
  4. Taking Stock
  5. The Spirit of Camp

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