New 2011 Woodplay Playsets follow a natural progression that began at the turn of the 20th century

Thursday, March 10, 2011
Media Contact:
Larry Gajderowicz
Woodplay Swing Sets

The newest line of Woodplay Playsets hit the showrooms in February of this year. The new designs offer over 65 unique wooden swing sets with practically endless configurations. Swing sets have come a long way since the concept of playgrounds took hold near the turn of the 20th century.

The newest line of Woodplay Playsets hit the showrooms in February of this year. The new designs offer over 65 unique wooden swing sets with practically endless configurations. The completely modular Woodplay Playsets system begins with two simple swing set ideas: an angled-base or a square base. Beginning with these two simple playsets, a swing set consumer can select different deck heights, regular or larger-sized deck spaces, and add swing beams, monkey climbers, sky boxes and host of other add-on accessories. The expanded dealer network in 2011 means that Woodplay playsets are also in more locations from coast to coast.

Woodplay began contributing to the development of the modern swing set in 1975, joining a movement that began at the end of the 1800s. While Greek vase paintings from as early at the 5th century B.C. depict women and children on swings, the swing sets of 2011 are a naturally beautiful progression that can be traced to the turn of the 20th century, amidst cultural and economic reform. Today, Woodplay Playsets is a leader in the wooden swing sets that have resulted from more than a century of design and safety development.

In the late 1800s, when child labor laws successfully increased the minimum working age, newly idle children had no safe place to play in urban areas. Setting aside space and creating playground equipment, then, became the heart of a movement backed by women and educators in many private associations. The associations’ efforts caused local and state governments to focus on the issue as well. In 1898, the Outdoor Recreation League began providing slides and seesaws to newly built playgrounds in New York. In 1906, the National Playground Association was established. By the 1920s, the National Recreation Association began publishing recommendations for school playground equipment.

In 1920, Theodore Hinton patented the “Jungle Gym.” During the Great Depression, playgrounds grew rapidly in number and were funded by the Federal Government. A post-war boom in playground construction met the needs of baby boomers. Playgrounds were funded along with an influx of public school, housing and highway projects. In 1945, the first commercially available residential cedar swing set was developed by a New England company named ChildLife. Yet, in the early years of playground equipment, steel playgrounds ruled the day. In the 1960s, designers created unusual play structures based upon new ideas from child psychology, encouraging decision-making and social interaction. Individual units were sculpted together to create a landscape of play structures. The concept was dubbed “Adventure Playgrounds.”

In the 70s, however, playground injuries from steel playgrounds surged. In 1975, two young partners (and parents) who noticed this trend began Woodplay Playsets in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the original redwood playset company. In response to the growing number of injuries from the steel playsets, the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published standards in the 1980s that would greatly influence swing set design for future generations. The new regulations included recommendations for removing hard equipment (metals bars) and substituting “soft” replacements such as wood and plastic. As a result, largely in residential backyards, wooden swing sets with playfully colored plastic components began to replace hard iron bars. Further guidelines by the CPSC in 1991 addressed the issue of installing safer, softer surfacing.

The change to wooden swing sets accelerated through the 1990s, and injuries from the playground equipment lessened. Revised CPSC guidelines would also address safety issues for smaller children and other design considerations. As a result, the 90s brought finely tuned sensitivity to safety issues in swing set design. At the start of the 21st century, installation of wooden playground equipment continued to accelerate.

In 2011, playground engineers continue working to reduce the risk of injury, in cooperation with the CPSC and organizations such as ASTM. The integration of the slide, climbers and swings into one unit that began in the 60s continues to this day. The highest quality swing sets are modular, and can be combined to create unique swing set combinations. The childhood obesity concern has given rise to an increased interest in outdoor play. Swing sets are, more and more, the choice of concerned parents. The driving factor behind swing set design today is to achieve a swing set which stimulates the imagination and increases physical activity. And today, the finest swing set manufacturers, such as Woodplay Playsets, work only with lumber mills which meet or exceed the standards of either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which plants five trees for every tree harvested.

Swings are an ancient concept, that’s an interesting notion that can’t be denied. But, neither can we deny the great strides that began at the turn of the 20th century, and that have lead us to the natural, safe wooden swing set designs of 2011.

###