Shade Structures

Courtesy Of URS Corp., Grand Rapids, Mich.

Remember those teenagers who used to baste themselves with baby oil and park on beach towels all day long? They grew up to become sun safety-conscious adults. These days, they are the parents of SPF-using, hat-wearing shade-seekers, and they’re none too pleased when they see camps that don’t offer some respite from the sun.

Fortunately, camps are taking these needs into consideration. Pools and picnic areas, once the haven of sunbathers, are featuring covered shelters. Even sports facilities–where onlookers often resignedly baked in the sun’s heat while taking in a competition–now offer plenty of options. In recent years, shade structures in these areas have become more aesthetically pleasing, more varied, and more interesting than ever before.

Staying In The Black And Out Of The Sun

Courtesy Of General Acrylics, Inc., Phoenix, Ariz.

Various options exist for creating shade around sports facilities. There may be permanent shade shelters (gazebos, pergolas, picnic shelters, and more), or temporary shelters (pop-up tents). There are shelters made with metal or wood posts and awnings, tension-supported structures, metal shelters, and those made of regular building materials like brick and wood. They may also be use-specific; for example, many benches on which Little League teams used to sit have become dugouts, or at least have some type of a sun shade.

These days, one can expect to see permanent structures that fit with the architecture of a given area. These may be as expensive as a custom-made shelter that fits over a specific area and has logos, or as low-tech as a table with an umbrella on it, purchased at a big-box store. Just remember to read the fine print. Wind, rain, and, ironically, sunlight, as well as other factors, can contribute to early wear and tear. Investigate warranties and read any consumer reviews regarding product performance.

 The Right Structure, The Right Place

Shade is most appreciated in spectator and press areas and places where athletes rest. In an area with mature trees, there may be less of a need for man-made shade. However, given that many areas may experience rain and more (particularly during the spring, summer, and fall playing seasons), safe shelters will always be appreciated.

∙ Shade shelters near a playground should be placed in a way that allows counselors or supervisors to see and hear children at all times.

∙ If covered bleachers are used near a sports field, they may not necessarily be safe places for spectators or athletes in the event of an electrical storm.

∙ Shade structures near swimming pools should be set well back from sidewalks and other areas where children actively play or chase one another.

Guidelines For Sports Facilities

If a shade shelter is placed near a sports facility, its presence must not interfere with play or cause any danger to players. Although many sports areas, such as tennis courts, volleyball courts, and sports fields, have areas bounded by playing lines, athletes in the midst of a game often overrun an area.

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