Adventurous play – unstructured play that involves some risk – is essential to every child’s well-being. It helps children learn, develop and grow their understanding of their own abilities.
- Promotes independence and problem-solving
- Provides direct experience of cause and effect (natural consequences)
- Develops coordination and bodily control
- Boosts self-confidence and emotional resilience
- Promotes self-regulation
- Reduces stress and fears
- Satisfies natural need for challenge and thrill
Adventurous play is vital for well-being
Since the 1950s we have seen a continuous decline in children’s opportunities to engage in free or unstructured play – the kind that is child-initiated where the child chooses what to play, how to play, with whom to play, where to play, and for how long to play. In free play, kids learn to regulate themselves, make up rules and solve their own problems.
- Freedom to truly play – kids set own rules, exercise self-regulation and problem solve on their own
- Opportunity to explore – different settings and environments stimulate learning and growth
- High awareness/Low intervention from parents and caregivers – adults lend guidance and support, but step in only when there is real risk for serious injury
NVRC promotes adventurous play
North Vancouver Recreation & Culture (NVRC) promotes adventurous play and summer camp and playground program leasers receive special training in this area. Leaders are trained to provide guidance and support so children can develop their life skills, autonomy and resiliency. They provide experiential learning (learn by doing) and create environments that are child-centred and encourage learning and stewardship of public space.
- Tag on a climbing structure - example: Grounders (“It” has eyes closed and can tag people & call out grounders. Anyone on the ground then becomes “It”. Sort of like Marco Polo in the Pool)
- Swinging on ropes/tying knots with ropes – example: creating a web and climbing through without touching
- Buddy Burner cooking – example: use a Buddy Burner to toast a sandwich
- Fencing with sticks
- Sardines: a variation of Hide & Seek. One person hides and then the others seek. Once they find the “sardine” the players sit together until everyone has found them.
- Flamingo Tag: in a confined area, participants stand on one foot and try to knock each other off balance. The participant to remain on one foot the longest wins
- Races in confined spaces: i.e. Duck, Duck, Goose and Pip, Squeak and Wilbur
- Climbing a tree/large rock & jumping from a height
- Building structures: using scissors, rope, wood, etc. Example: musical instruments, forts, giant gadgets (tri-pods, ladders, etc.)
- Hiking over the suspension bridge, on rocks on the shore, stepping stones in a low creek