By Katy Killilea
A gray, cold-but-snowless winter day that has you desperate to fill your lungs with bracing air is the right day for a Playground Circuit Challenge.
GET READY: Before you bundle up and hit the road, get your kids to decide on three or more playgrounds within a few minutes of each other that you’ll visit. They’ll also need to plan the components of their challenge. Will every slide have to be scaled? Will every swing need to be swung upon for the duration of the alphabet? Will every balance beam have to be strutted down as if it’s a catwalk? And most important — to some — will there be a prize?
We planned to go to three playgrounds (Find more playgrounds here):
– Warren Recreation Park on Asylum Rd. (off the intersection of Child St., also known as 103)
– Warren Pirate Ship Park (Water Street after the sign for Wharf Tavern)
– Kids’ Kove in Barrington (next to the library on Rt. 114)
OKAY GO: Our trip started with filling our tightly-lidded thermal travel cups with each participant’s hot beverage of choice. I should have done this bit at home, but instead we filled up at Starbucks (warm milk with choice of flavored syrup and whipped cream costs 95 cents when you bring your own cup).
FACE THE CHALLENGE: In our case the challenge was to go down each slide five times at every playground.
First we hit the Warren Recreational Park. It is a showstopper with ships, shops, esoteric balance beams, a fish-mural rock wall (photo), tons of swings, a “tot lot,” four slides, a firepole, and more. Every time I bother to go to this playground, I wonder why I don’t go more often. It is a kids’ paradise, even on a dreary day. The kids played until we were just too darn cold, and needed to warm up with a quick drive in the car.
Our next stop was the petite and beloved Pirate Ship Park, also in Warren. It boasts only one slide and is more noteworthy for the funky ship kids can climb on and the bright red gate that makes you so, so dizzy.
It was starting to get dark when we reached Kids’ Kove, and its giant tunnel slide was a little spooky at first, but the kids did indeed achieve their goal.
THE PRIZE: We ended at Kids’ Kove because anyone who successfully completed the challenge could choose a book from Barrington Books just across the street. We spent a nice chunk of time choosing our books. (Lucky me! Even though I didn’t go on any slides, I still got a prize.)
The whole challenge took us three hours and left me with precisely the snuggly, exhausted children I am always longing for.