Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Summer Adventures Begin at Home(r)

When we first moved to Homer, finding a playground was at the top of the kids' to-do list.  The closest one to our house is at Karen Hornaday Park, less than a mile away and a nice walking distance.  We made only one trip to that playground last summer, because once was enough to see that it just wasn't a fun place for small kids to play.  Many structures were missing pieces or just not built for little legs to climb (heck, I even had a hard time climbing up some of the ladders).  It was also very dirty, even by Alaska standards, with the base set in gravel and sand.  But the location is amazing- views of the bay and mountains, and right next to the hospital so kids can watch the helicopter come and go.  After emptying the gravel out of their shoes, the kids begged to go back to "the big Groton playground" that we used to frequent in Connecticut.  Um, that's 5,000 miles away.  Sorry.

A photo of the current playground, from the HOPP Facebook page

We went to a street fair later in the summer and were so excited when we discovered a fabulous group of community members there who were trying to raise funds for a new playground.  They sucked us in with tables full of bubbles and play dough and then told me all about their vision while the kids were occupied.  What a wonderful idea, especially for a town like Homer that has such a sense of community.  The Homer Playground Project (HOPP for short) raised funds all fall and winter, and now we're only a month away from "build week."  It's amazing to see SO many people from town get together to make something like this happen.  A design firm was brought in to plan the logistics.  It's the same firm that did the Soldotna Community Playground, about 75 miles from Homer, that my kids now frequently request to visit.  Still not quite close enough for an afternoon at the playground, but we'll stop by if we head up to do some shopping.

So, our first adventure of the summer?  Helping to build the playground!  The entire thing gets built in just one week, with about 100 people working each of three shifts per day.  We actually even cancelled a trip to Kodiak that I had booked for this week because we don't want to miss it.  Thanks to the playground design firm, HOPP has build week down to a science, from knowing how many hammers are needed to arranging volunteers for childcare (who will even be background-checked for safety) to securing food donations that provide each building shift with a meal and snacks.  It's a HUGE job to organize it all, and we've been helping out where we can.  The kids and I will be baking and freezing cookies for the snack table over the next few weeks.  I've signed up for a few building shifts.  The CGC Hickory is organizing a team to work some of the shifts as well.  We ordered our pickets so the kids will have their names on the playground forever.

Homer friends, here's the link to visit to find out how you can help out.  And believe me, if you don't sign up now, you wish you had when build week comes around and the whole town is buzzing with excitement!