Playground Budgeting and Planning

Making Sure You're Choosing the Right Playground for Your Church

playground budget
Whether it's swinging from the monkey bars, tip-toeing across the balance beam, or shooting down the tube slide, there's nothing a child loves more than playing at the playground. For years, churches across the world have provided playgrounds for their families with young children. Below, we'll outline everything you'll need to keep in mind to build a beautiful, attractive, and safe playground for your community.

Form a Playground Committee!
Choosing the right playground equipment for your church or religious organization can be quite a task. At an average cost of $30,000 to $50,000 USD, a playground is a significant investment! Forming a committee will allow people from different parts of your church to get involved in fundraising, planning, selecting the right company with which to work, and generally making sure that everything goes smoothly. The committee will focus primarily on three topics when choosing the proper playground setup -- budget, use, and climate.

Playground Budgets
In large part, your playground budget will be determined by how many children you expect to use the playground at a given time. A good general rule is to budget for about $1000 per child, meaning that if you expect 50 kids to be able to play there together, you should budget for about $50,000. Keep in mind that "themed" playgrounds (such as a "WWJD?" or "Veggie Tales" motif) will generally cost about 50% more than a normal setup. This money will cover preparation of the site, playground equipment and installation, safety surfacing (such as gravel or wood chips), potential costs of replacement parts for the first few years, money set aside against potential legal action, and first aid supplies for supervisors.

***NOTE: Generally, it pays to budget enough money to buy high-quality playground equipment. It is less likely to fail, meaning lower replacement costs and a lower likelihood of a legal suit which could prove a financial burden to your church.

Churches often fundraise in order to meet their budget, but they may also look for partnerships with local schools or community groups which might be willing to work in partnership to build a bigger, more attractive facility. State and local governments may also provide grants for community development of this kind, so it's a good idea to check with your local authorities to see if you can further lower your net costs.

Who Will Use Your Playground?
After deciding upon your budget, consider the age group that you expect to most frequently use the playground. This helps to figure out what sort of equipment will be best for your needs. If most of your kids will be from ages 2 to 5, for example, you'll want to make sure that no part of your playground is higher than 6 feet tall. Kids of this age love playing by themselves, and also love repetition, so things like digger sandboxes and swing-sets may be good bets. You'll also want to avoid tube and spiral slides, as children of this age need to see where they're going in order to feel safe.

If, on the other hand, your children will be elementary school age (6 to 12), keep in mind that they like things that they can do together -- parallel slides, climbing ropes, and poles will be popular, as will a setup that provides many different paths to the same location. Churches that wish to appeal to kids of all ages should consider a combination of many different pieces of equipment, with signs posted to let kids and parents know which ones are appropriate for which age groups. No matter which age group you're looking to serve, be sure to consult closely with your chosen playground equipment company to find the setup that perfectly suits the needs of your church.

Now comes the fun part! After you've figured out your budget and who you expect to use your new playground, it's time to begin the search for the playground materials and options that are right for you. Learn more with Playground Materials!

Written by: Bob Robertson