Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis playground

Employees of Cascadia Landscaping assemble playground equipment at the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis. This structure is meant to be abstract enough that kids can pretend it is whatever they want it to be.

After school at the Boys & Girls Club of Corvallis on Wednesday, there was a common sight at the windows on the side of the building facing Circle Boulevard: little faces pressed up against the glass.

The faces were of kindergartners watching the construction of the club’s new $90,000 playground set, which should be completed sometime next week.

Helen Higgins, the club's chief executive officer, said the idea of putting in an outdoor playground at the club has been a dream that goes back a decade.

“We’ve wanted to get some play equipment in the backyard for a long time,” she said.

Higgins said the opportunity to actually get the play structure built came up when the club removed the portable it had used for extra space until the club’s teen center opened in the fall of 2018. Higgins said the ground the portable was on had two feet of packed gravel, meaning the playground could be built on the site with less ground preparation.

Higgins said plans to build the playground got serious after the teen center opened. Fundraising for the playground was helped along by a $15,000 grant from KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that specializes in playgrounds, in December. She said KaBOOM!'s involvement signaled to other nonprofits that the project was serious and encouraged more grant donors to fund it.

Higgins said although the club has had a grassy outdoor area for play, it did not previously have any outdoor play structures. The new playground will include picnic tables for eating or playing board games, a traditional playground with slides, and climbing structure made of large geodesic cubes.

Higgins said the climbing structure is meant to be an abstract shape that kids can pretend is anything they want. It aligns with the playground's entire purpose, she said, because it gives the kids a chance to have unstructured, creative play.

The club’s goal, she added, is to provide children with at least 60 minutes of active play every day. Having the outdoor play structures will give more options to kids who may not be interested in sports activities held in the club’s gym.

Installation of the play structure began Wednesday, and Higgins said work is likely to stretch into next week. She said the playground should definitely be open by the time school is out.

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Anthony Rimel covers weekend events, education, courts and crime and can be reached at anthony.rimel@lee.net, 541-758-9526, or via Twitter @anthonyrimel.