Author Archive for Nicole Stoddard

Two Ways to Approach Playground Maintenance

Whether you are a playground owner by default, or you inherited a play structure as part of your job, or you are a full-time parks and playground professional, this article is for you.

There are two ways to approach playground maintenance: The do-it-yourself method or you can hire LuckyDog Recreation to do the heavy-lifting for you. LuckyDog is an experienced and trusted playground contractor with Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI). LuckyDog offers an annual or bi-annual program we call LuckyDog’s Signature Inspection Service.

LuckyDog Recreation Inspections

The 4 Top Reasons For Playground Inspections

Whether you do it yourself or hire professional playground inspections here are 4 reasons you want to implement an inspection and maintenance program:

  1. Extends the life of your playground
  2. Keeps children safe
  3. Shows you are exercising due diligence
  4. Shows you have a risk management tool in place

Let’s elaborate on each of the above:

  1. Extends the life of your playground. When playground equipment is installed correctly, it should last well past the warranty dates on any of the components. Many municipalities set a pre-budget date for replacement so playground equipment can be replaced every 15 years. However, I know of many playgrounds living beyond 20 years that are still in great shape because they were installed correctly, and they are being inspected and maintained regularly. Of course, the “brand” of equipment is another factor in the mix; you get what you pay for. So, for the purposes of this article, let’s assume you purchased your equipment from a reputable playground contractor that represents top-tier equipment.
  2. Keeps children safe. Everyone’s a parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt. So it goes without saying we all have a vested interest in keeping children safe. Unlike safety restraints in a car which are regulated by law, do not playgrounds rely on a softer moral code? If it’s for the kids, make it as safe as it can possibly be while still being fun. Based on that presupposition, as a playground owner, you are morally obligated to care enough to do regular inspections on your equipment; whether you do it yourself, have a CPSI on staff, or hire LuckyDog Recreation is up to you and items 3 and 4 might help to settle the issue of WHOM you should hire to do the work.
  3. Shows you are exercising due diligence. This indicated that reasonable steps were taken by the owners of the playground to prevent an incident that could potentially send a child to the emergency room, or worse, a fatality. Should a child be injured on “your” playground, you could be found negligent if you cannot show records of your equipment having been maintained by a qualified inspector. In the playground world, qualified inspector means a CPSI. So not only do you need to do the inspections, or hire them done, record-keeping is also essential.
  4. Shows you have a risk management instrument in place. I know a city of Utah that sends one of their CPSIs to the certified training yearly. Never mind that re-certification is only required every three years. This city is dedicated to the safety of the children and tasks the maintaining of their playgrounds to the most qualified person on staff, a highly trained CPSI. The result? Better maintained playground of course and safer children of course. However, there is another not so obvious benefit for the city “paying” hundreds of dollars each year for this extra training. Should this city ever be in a litigation case, they can show without questionable doubt they have an ironclad risk management tool in place.

Now, are we suggesting you run out and become a CPSI? Or that you get your staff certified? Well, it depends on your budget, how many playgrounds you own, and other factors. However, we are suggesting that by calling LuckyDog Recreation about our Signature Service Inspections you can get service you can count on. And by the way, we do offer inspections on brands other than those we sell.* 

*When you own a LuckyDog playground, we offer a 1 Year Signature Service Inspection for free with every play structure installed; just another way we show we care.

In Pursuit of Play,

Curtis Stoddard, CSPI, Construction Manager

Playground Equipment Utah Call Button

LuckyDogr Recreation Certified Playground Inspectors

Salt Lake City Elementary School Creates New Playground

J.E. Cosgriff Memorial Catholic School – A Salt Lake City Elementary School

You know you have a special principal and an amazing school when they come together to build a whole new play space from the ground up.

Principal Betsy Hunt is so passionate about her students and their well being that she worked with the school to fund their whole entire new playground with grant money…which takes a real dedication of time, attention and effort, let alone the additional paperwork.

Because Principal Hunt knows how much students benefit from outdoor play she was enthusiastic about making sure each piece of playground equipment was evaluated and discussed to make sure it would increase body movements and offered active play. She knows that back in the classroom both the students and teachers reap the benefits of improved focus and increased testing scores from active play.

Cosgriff Old Playground Equipment


J.E. Cosgriff Elementary School took an old and well-used playground and completely revitalized it by doubling the play equipment, adding exercise equipment, and covering the whole area with new Pour-In-Place surfacing.

There is Nothing Passive on this New Play Structure!

The new playground is a unique design encouraging students to be extremely active. Every deck is accessible from all sides by using upper or lower body strength and movements to work their way across the structure. Steppers of all heights connect students to additional climbers and activities providing them with an amazing way to go completely around the structures while never touching the ground!

Vibrant and Exciting

The playground was designed around the bright primary colors of old the original piece of equipment offering a cohesiveness between old and new. It’s a vibrant and exciting playground!

Beautiful Playground Surfacing

Pour-In-Place surfacing gives this play area supreme cushioning and keeps the surface color light to decrease heat. Blending beige and black made it an affordable option, LuckyDog worked with the FlexGround installation professionals producing a look that is silky smooth!

Building Cosgriff Playground





Perfect Planning

From initial planning to completion was a full year but the time was well spent in planning so no decision was rushed.


Congratulations to everyone at J.E. Cosgriff Memorial School. I admire your insight and dedication.

Thank you for letting LuckyDog be a part of your playground transformation.

In Pursuit of Play

Rhetta McIff, Utah Creative Play Designer

P.S. Dreaming about your own color combinations? Download: Playcraft Color Pallet 2018

P.S. Interested in seeing this fabulous elementary school playground and the Poured-in-Place surfacing?
Go to:
J.E. Cosgriff Memorial Catholic School
2335 Redondo Ave. Salt Lake City, UT 84108

10 Reasons To Join National Recreation And Park Association (NRPA)

Over the years as we have worked with schools, school districts, cities, counties and states, we have come to admire what a group can do. Whether the group has been big or small, the goal of providing places to play and recreate has been the driving force that brings the dream into reality.

You may not know the one group that has created the firm foundation we use to build those dreams is the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).

The Dividends of Being in the NRPA

No matter what recreational industry or educational system you are a part of, the NRPA is dedicated to supporting you and your efforts to provide the absolute best in recreation, playgrounds and parks.

Coming together as a national group, we make the changes that really matter in a world of growing technologies and progress moving faster than we have ever seen before.

“Change is inevitable in a progressive County. Change is constant.” Benjamin Disraeli

LuckyDog Recreation - 10 Reasons NRPA

10 Reasons to Join National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)

  1. Health & Wellness: This is the first of NRPA’s “Three Pillars.” This group has become the leader in promoting health and wellness through parks and recreation. Their website, convention and monthly magazine are full of cutting-edge ideas you will love to share.
  2. Conservation: The second “Pillar” is their dedication to protecting open space, connecting people to nature, and engaging communities in conservation practices. The NRPA makes it easy to be a part of a movement that really makes an impact.
  3. Social Equity: The third “Pillar” is a goal that we all share, “Ensuring all people have access to the benefits of local parks and recreation.”
  4. Grants and Funding: The NRPA gives you up-to-date information on available grant and funding opportunities.
  5. Reports: Get facts and statistics from NRPA’s long list of reports you can use to present park and recreation funding requests from your local government and school boards.
  6. Continuing Education: NRPA’s online-learning is a cost-effective way to train and educate your team. Also, it is the best way to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs).
  7. Playground Safety: From becoming Certified Playground Safety Inspectors to learning what is new in safe playground equipment, LuckyDog appreciates all the ways the NRPA has been our partner. You will appreciate it too.
  8. Non-Profit Organization: Because the NRPA is a non-profit organization, your membership dues, conference dues and charitable contributions fund this dynamic organization. Once you check out their website, you will see that they are a class act, worth every penny of your membership.
  9. Monthly Magazine: Whahoo! the NRPA’s Parks & Recreation magazine is now available online for everyone. The magazine is full of great park and play articles. Plus the new Playcraft Ebb and Flow Net Climbers are featured on the back cover of this issue. Check it out…Park & Recreation Online Magazine.
  10. Yearly Convention – The annual NPRA Conference educates the public, professionals and government leaders as to what is new for all “Three Pillars.”

The NRPA convention is the highlight of our year. Although we learn tons during the education sessions, our favorite part is networking and participating in the BIG tradeshow.

A Sneak Peek at the 2018 NRPA Tradeshow

As we walk out the door to attend this year’s convention in Indianapolis, we want to give you a sneak peek of what Playcraft Systems and Berliner will be presenting at the show.

Playcraft Systems’ Ebb and Flow Net Climbers

LuckyDog Recreation and Playcraft Systems Eb and Flow

New Berliner Play Equipment Catalogs

Berliner Play Equipment Catalogs from LuckyDog Recreation

We are excited to meet with those of you who are attending this year’s NRPA convention.

And if you can not attend, watch for a new video tour with Rhetta. Be sure to give us a call for more information on the Playcraft Ebb and Flow Net Climbers and your brand new Berliner catalog.

In Pursuit of Play,

Nicole and Rhetta

Playground Equipment Utah Call Button

In Berlin To Play On Berliner Unique Play Equipment

We all know the saying “All work and no play makes . . .”! So when part of the LuckyDog Team was invited to Berlin Germany to experience Berliner play equipment firsthand, we “jumped” at the chance.

Of course, we attended a few days of meetings and ate some of the most amazing food. All who have traveled to Europe know what we’re talking about.

Actually playing in the world of Berliner Playground Equipment was the really fun part!

And Play we did! from testing some of the most unique playground equipment to climbing net towers to returning to earth via the most fabulous slides ever!

In this short video, the LuckyDog Recreation Team shares the fun we had in Berlin at the Berliner Play Equipment factory and at their exciting playground installations in the city.

As you can see in the video, the play toys are sized to accommodate adult bodies and create enough fun to interest kids for hours on end. It is the most amazing product line.

A big thanks to our hosts at the Berliner Seilfabrik factory and at our meetings. We appreciate your care and attention to detail. The German Berliner crew are superb hosts and we all can’t wait for a return visit.

Now back in the USA we are excited to share with you, all the playground fun and unique play equipment by Berliner.

So no, you don’t have to go to Germany for an amazingly fun playground experience. We can help you bring one of these unique playgrounds right to your community neighborhood.

Playfully, The LuckyDog Team

Playground Equipment Utah Call Button

Fall Is The Perfect Time To Get Out And Play

Ask most adults the major barrier to being more physically active, and they will tell you: Time.

We complain about how busy we are and how little time we have to step away from responsibilities and enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, our love affair with over-scheduling ourselves has been passed on to our children.

Pressures to do better academically, be involved in leadership/service activities, and to “fit in” have been compounded by parents who over-schedule their children at an entirely too early age.

Author Richard Louv discusses this in his book, Last Child in the Woods, stating that children are experiencing a “Nature Deficit Disorder.” When was the last time your children sat on the ground and stared at a bug?

LuckyDog Recreation - Playground Time

Getting kids outdoors, playing with other kids, is a key part of optimal childhood development. Kids need the chance to climb, swing, navigate through obstacles, and yes, even fall down once in a while. Without these opportunities to build muscle, gain confidence, and learn interaction skills with other children, kids are held back from their potential.

The Solution

Take your kids to the park.

Let them explore a playground that helps them build confidence and strength as they learn to navigate through a course that doesn’t hold their hands through the problem solving of how to get from point A to point B, or even tell them where point B is.

Get Out and Play - LuckyDog Recreation

Solution vs. Barrier

Going to the park is a simple solution, but it does run headlong onto the leading barrier: Time.

  • Build time into your schedule to get outside yourself, and take your kids with you.
  • Treat it like an appointment with your boss; you wouldn’t skip that appointment because you are too busy.
  • Get outside, enjoy the challenge, and give your kids the chance to grow and learn through experiential play.
  • It’s worth the time.

Get out and play,

Dr. Brett McIff

Dr. Brett McIff - LuckyDog RecreationDr. McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.  Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science.  He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity.

Magical, Twisted, Crazy! Triitopia by Berliner Play Equipment

Welcome to the realm of imagination! Triitopia, the new product type of the successful Berliner Greenville series.

Magical, twisted, crazy! Triitopia combines award-winning design with tried and tested materials in a spectacular way! A magical world of climbing and adventure where reality and fiction combine, emerges an interplay of transparent and closed façade elements.

Berliner Triitopia Playground Equipment - LuckyDog Recreation Idaho, Utah, Wyoming

Diverse net pieces invite you to climb and lead to numerous corners, angles and up to viewing areas and slides on different levels. Whether a magic school, bandit’s tower or knight’s castle – anything is possible.

Berliner Triitopia Playground Equipment Video - LuckyDog Recreation, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah


The chaos has a system! The tower is shown above and in the video was displayed at a tradeshow. It had a total height of approximately 36′, but you can scale down Triitopia to make it fit any budget.

LuckyDog Recreation - Inside the Berliner Triitopia Playground

Behind the seemingly random construction method lies a highly modular system that allows every Triitopia structure to be custom designed in shape and size to a maximal extent. To do so, you can choose from a wide range of different net elements, panel types and slides and let your custom adventure world become a reality with us.

It goes without saying that Triitopia can be combined with nearly all other Berliner play equipment.

Berliner Triitopia.02 - LuckyDog Recreation - Playground Equipment Utah, Idaho, Wyoming

Explore Triitopia.02. At a height of more than 32′, and a huge three-dimensional net inside, this climbing and playing tower offers unlimited possibilities for fun and adventure across a total of seven levels.

Triitopia.01 by Berliner Play Equipment - LuckyDog Recreation, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho

Kids will even fully enjoy the slightly smaller adventure world of Triitopia.01. Children that ascend through the spatial net to the very top can swiftly descend the tunnel-slide all the way to the ground. Alternatively, the new net tunnel on the façade can be used as an accending or descending option.

We recently had the pleasure to visit the Berliner Factory in Germany. What a treat and true to our namesake, we were “lucky dogs.” We got to climb, swing, spin and thoroughly explore the new Triiopia — ridiculously fun!!! Yes…ridiculously fun is a good way to describe just how fabulous this new Greenville line is.

We hope this article by Berliner Play Equipment company has aroused your interest in the Triitopia. An overview of all the details can be found in the new Triitopia brochure. You can download it here: Berliner Play Equipment – Triitopia Brochure

Call us, we would love to help you put together your very own Triitopia.

In Pursuit of Ridiculously Fun Play,

Nicole, CJ, Rhetta and the LuckyDog Team

Nicole Stoddard – (800) 388-2196
Rhetta McIff – (385) 222-1030

Kid Revolution – No More Speed Limits on Merry-Go-Rounds

If you desire a playground that fulfills the need for speed, you are in luck. By simply increasing the use zone on your merry-go-rounds and spinners, speed governors on these play toys are a thing of the past.

First, know that any spinner with a minimum dimension of less than or equal to 20” measured from the axis of the rotation to the outmost perimeter is exempt from speed limitation requirements*. This includes all Playcraft Systems Stand-N-Spins, Spinner Seats and Bucket Spinners.

Playcraft Mini Merry-Go-Round

Download Your Mini-Go-Round Info By Clicking The Picture Above

Anything larger, such as the Spin Max™ Pod, Spin Max Go-Round, Spin Max™ Tower, Neutron Spinner, and of course our Mini and full-size Merry-Go-Round, where the maximum dimensions is greater than 20” measured from the axis of rotation to the outermost perimeter, must have a speed limiting device installed by the manufacturer.

Until now . . . .

Simply install your spinner with 108” use zone and now EVERY SPINNER is exempt from speed limitation requirements.

Playcraft rotating playground equipment placement


*See ASTM 1487-17 Section 8.8.3 Speed Limitations

Playground Slides are for Fun, not for Cooking

Summer is here and the kids are excited to spend their time on the playground, but are the playgrounds ready for them?

The weather in the intermountain west can be so hot that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk. Just imagine how hot playground slides and other dark or metal objects can be on tender skin.

Summer Playground Slide for Fun - LuckyDog RecreationDo a Playground Walkthrough

As we move into the hot summer months, consider a walkthrough of your playgrounds and look for those things that you can adjust to account for the heat.

An excellent tool for checking the temperature is a handheld point-and-shoot infrared thermometer. They are often used in cooking, such as on the grill, but can be used to check your equipment before a child gets burned.

Look especially at dark metal or plastic, flat surfaces such as slides and playground decks, and particularly south and west facing structures. Even a brief touch, especially with a child’s delayed reflexes, can result in up to second-degree burns. Be sure to measure temperatures mid-day to evening, as summer afternoons are scorchers!

Summer Safety Tips for Hot Playground Slides and Playground Equipment

You can do a lot to mitigate the problems from excess temperatures:

  • Provide shade: Shade your playground structures with shade sails, trees, or by locating the playground where shade from buildings is available.
  • Safe placement for slides: When possible, install slides facing east or north.
  • Put up a sign: Consider marking your structures with warnings that temperatures can be high and could result in burns.
  • No wet swimsuits: Remember that water conducts heat, so wet swimsuits shouldn’t be on hot slides.
  • Drinking water: Heat exhaustion and dehydration can occur quickly in children. Provide plenty of drinking water.
  • Use water sources: Providing clean, not hot, water nearby is a great way to make sure children are safe and happy as they enjoy the playgrounds during the summer heat.

Have fun and play safe,

Dr. McIff

Dr. Brett McIff - LuckyDog RecreationDr. Brett McIff has worked in physical activity promotion for over 20 years in a variety of fields from personal training to policy development.  He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Exercise and Sports Science. He continued his graduate work with a Master of Science in Public Health and a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University.

Brett has served as President of the National Physical Activity Society and as President of the Utah Chapter of the Society of Public Health Educators and served on expert panels with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academy of Science.  He works with committees at the national, state, and local levels to promote environments that encourage regular physical activity.

Inclusive Rope-based Play Equipment – The Future of Play

What sets rope-based play equipment apart from other play structures is that there is no one way to properly play on the equipment. The children will have to use their imagination when they use rope structures because there are endless ways to play on them. Basically, there are no prescribed entry points or paths to be followed, and the open environment of the net allows social interaction.

Each step, each level, each time a child grabs another rope to move, it is another chance for the child to make a decision. With each successful decision, their self-confidence is increased.

Inclusive rope-based play is unique, free play for each child, and challenges the children’s motor skills, stimulates their imagination, and improves their muscle development as well as their balancing skills.

The rope equipment is not confined to one level of difficulty. Instead, it has many elements that can challenge the child. Children and young adults can choose whether to venture on to the sections with large distances between the ropes, or they can choose to test their motor skills in the narrower sections.

There are two types of inclusive rope-based play equipment: two-dimensional and three-dimensional. The two-dimensional rope structures can be climbed on in any direction—vertically, horizontally, or even across if there is a bridge of some kind.

The three-dimensional structures are referred to as space nets or net climbers, and come in an array of different shapes and sizes; they enhanced the play experience by including a mix of both low and high courses. This is another aspect that allows for endless play opportunities.

What is Inclusive Play/Accessible Play?

So, what makes rope play inclusive? When one thinks of a rope structure, the idea of children with disabilities being included does not usually come to mind unless you’ve seen rope structures such as those manufactured by Berliner.

Inclusive play enables children of all types, ages and abilities to play together and encourages engagement between children, including those with disabilities, hearing or sight impairments, ADHD, Down’s syndrome, and kids without any impairment.

Inclusive play does not take away the challenge or excitement of the playground for those without disabilities, but simply creates a balance that allows children of all abilities to enjoy the playground together.

There must be transfer stations in order to satisfy the regulations of the ADA, allowing the child to move from their wheelchair and onto the play structure:

  • Children who have limited mobility can grip the rope and feel the movement caused by the other children playing on it, being included in the play in their own way.
  • Children in wheelchairs can travel underneath and through the play structure, enabling them to socially interact with the children climbing on the structure above them.
  • The rope equipment challenges motor skills and offers endless play options.
  • Because there is no one way to play on the structure, it does not exclude anyone—even adults can enjoy the structure!

Inclusive rope-based playground by Berliner and LuckyDog Recreation

What Educators Say About Rope-Based Play

Educators have said that the ropes have been more accessible than traditional playground equipment, allowing interaction between children of all abilities. The inclusive rope-based structures are open, allowing for easier supervision.

“One student with Cerebral Palsy had never been on a slide before. The teachers helped her up the ropes to the slide entrance and assisted her on the way down. Her attitude about recess changed dramatically after that.”

“The children in wheelchairs go under the net structure, look up and talk to the kids above them, increasing the interaction between the kids, enabling those in wheelchairs to be closer to other children, weave in and out, chase and be part of the action.”

“The kids create their own imaginative play, creating their own rules and games. Children with physical or other disabilities become part of the games by grabbing hold of the ropes or overseeing the music or a certain part of the structure. The rope structure brings children of all abilities together and they seem to love the change in play.”

By Sarah Knight

Primer: The History of Rope Play

What comes to mind when thinking of a playground?

Often, it is a multicolored structure with a slide coming from its side, a swing set and monkey bars. However, there is an alternate piece of equipment that is not only inclusive and accessible but also visually stimulating. It inspires balance and coordination, muscle development and strength, problem-solving, imaginative play, and increased self-confidence for every kind of child.

Perhaps the most surprising thing to learn is that this structure is simple and has been around since the 1930s. If you guessed rope-play equipment, you guessed right.

Interestingly enough, a boxer named Joseph Brown is credited with the invention of rope-based play. Joseph left Temple University where he was studying physical education to become a professional boxer in the 1930s. In 1931 after suffering an injury, he returned to school to complete his degree. Seemingly a man of many talents, Joe spent six years as a sculptor before he was hired by Princeton University to train other boxers.

It was in the 1950s that he began to take notice of the importance that movement through sports and play had on the development of young people. He created designs that were termed revolutionary for the time, installing a number of prototypes in Philadelphia and abroad.

Rope play did not take off in the 1950s because Joe did not have the manufacturing capacity to mass produce his equipment. However, his designs are used in today’s popular high rope gardens. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Berliner Seilfabrick picked up his rope-play concept. Berliner then paved the way for today’s rope-based play industry on a commercial basis, designing and mass producing the first net climber.

By Sarah Knight

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