In order to lead your logistics team well, you’ll have to know the playground build process backwards and forwards. Read on to learn about researching your playspace project and the ins and outs of the build, from technical terms to FAQs. Consider walking through our online Road Map so you can visualize the steps the whole planning committee will be taking along the way, and how logistics fit into that picture.
Researching the playspace project
First, ask your co-chair(s) if they've settled on a playspace site, vendors, and a general project timeline. If not, they may need your help in making these decisions! As soon as this information becomes available, record it as a reference.
Delivery Address (if different):
Play Equipment Company Name and Contact Info:
Equipment Sales Representative Name and Contact Info:
Local Installer Name and Contact Info:
Safety Surfacing Company Name and Contact Info:
Surfacing Sales Representative Name and Contact Info:
Local Installer Name and Contact Info:
Design Day Date:
Deadline for Ordering Equipment:
Date(s) of the Playspace Build:
Dates of Community Meetings:
Dates of Planning Meetings:
Date(s) for Community Fundraisers:
Fill out this site evaluation form to get to know your site’s amenities, access routes, and potential hazards. Also, you may want to read this worksheet after the construction team has finished filling it out.
The planning and build process
Under the KaBOOM! model, a long and intricate planning process culminates in one high-energy, high-impact, inspiring main event – volunteers coming out to the site to assemble and install the equipment. Of course, having a productive and fulfilling volunteer experience requires careful preparation of the site, equipment, tools and materials. Talk to your co-chair(s) and Construction Captain about how you’ll be doing site prep. In the meantime, familiarize yourself with the terms below:
Major site prep
This involves changing the landscape of the site itself: leveling a slope or bumps; filling in large holes; removing asphalt, trees or old play equipment, etc. You should call the local utility company to come check your site for underground utilities early on in the planning process so that you can plan around them if necessary. You may also want to test the soil on your build site for the presence of dangerous heavy metals such as lead and arsenic that could require remediation to make it a safe place for children to play. If you're using rubberized surfacing, you may need to pour a concrete slab. We recommend completing all major site prep at least two weeks before your build in case you run into problems. You also don't want large machinery operating around dozens of volunteers!
Minor site prep
This refers to any skilled labor that prepares for and simplifies the equipment assembly. It includes marking the playspace border and hole location, digging the post holes, labeling components, and divvying up hardware according to team tasks. Your installer, if you have one, will probably supervise (and provide tools for) minor site prep. If you're planning a one-day blitz build, you'll need to complete these tasks one to two days in advance; otherwise they can be spread out over the days of the build.
Your Construction Captain will divide the entire playspace build into a series of relatively short, manageable tasks. A Build Captain and team of volunteers will then be assigned to each of these tasks. When manufactured play equipment is used, a professional installer typically comes out to supervise the build process. With the right amount of people (i. e. 80 to 120 volunteers) working simultaneously, a medium-sized playground (50-foot by 50-foot) can be installed in a single day!
Q. How long does it take to build a playspace, and how many people do we need?
A. With the right amount of dedicated volunteers, your community can come together to build a playground, skatepark or sports field in one day. Pulling off this kind of ambitious community barn-raising requires months of planning by a playspace committee, from fundraising to volunteer recruitment to preparation of the site.
For a medium-sized playground (50-foot by 50-foot), we recommend having ten to 20 volunteers to assist with advance site preparation, which may include removing asphalt, leveling a slope, and digging post holes for the play equipment. On the day of the build, we recommend having 100 to 120 volunteers to install the playspace, haul safety surfacing, and complete side projects. (Playgrounds using poured-in-place rubberized surfacing, which is installed by professionals after the Build Day(s), can be assembled with just 50 to 80 volunteers.)
Communities have done successful builds with fewer people, but you may be up all night! If you spread your build event over several days, you can easily build a playspace with 30 to 40 committed volunteers...or work in shifts and bring in hundreds of part-timers!
Q. Why build in a day?
A. For one reason, it's easier to get people to commit to volunteering for a single day. Who wouldn't want to give up their Saturday or Sunday when there's free food and fun activities for the kids? Secondly, it's easier to get business sponsors and media organizations involved in a building blitz. Challenge local businesses and corporations to donate just one day of their employees' time, and you can get a huge volunteer turnout. An eight-hour project is a natural fit for corporate team-building activities and/or publicity events tied to a conference or company anniversary. Media will also be attracted by a speedy playspace "barn-raising" - that's a story in itself!
Many communities spread their playspace construction over the better part of a week, and longer builds have their own advantages. Perhaps your core group of volunteers is small but committed —- a multiple-day build will better accomplish your goals and cultivate close working friendships. Or maybe people in your community simply can't give up a whole day — divide your build into several half-day shifts and go after busy professionals and parents. Most volunteers will get hooked and come back for more! You can also increase business participation by giving each day of the build a different theme and encouraging businesses to be the exclusive, "signature" sponsor for that day.
Q. Do the volunteers need construction skills? Do the people working on the playspace need to be really strong?
A. There are no skills that are absolutely necessary to build a playground, skatepark or field. Although there are many types of community builds, in this manual we suggest purchasing modular equipment from a certified playspace manufacturer. Many companies will provide a professional community-build installer to oversee the construction. Assembling most playspace equipment is like putting together a puzzle, and the most common tool used is an Allen key (for tightening bolts). Remember that a community-built playspace project relies on teamwork for success; therefore, what might be a strenuous task for one person is an easy task for four people.
Q. How far in advance should we plan our project?
A. You should give yourself enough time to raise the needed funds and resources, recruit volunteers, and have the equipment manufactured. Your community must determine the fundraising and recruiting timeline, but the manufacturing of the equipment does have a timeline that is beyond your control. Most play equipment companies generate custom playspace designs and colors; therefore, the component parts are not waiting on a shelf in a warehouse, and you need to allow the company approximately three months to manufacture and deliver the equipment. This timeline can vary depending on the time of year (summer is an especially busy time) and other manufacturing factors. Some companies also offer quick ships of pre-designed playspaces that are in stock and can be shipped in less than a month.
Your teammates and their roles
Over the next several months, you will be in constant contact with your co-chair(s) and fellow team captains. If you don’t already know them, introduce yourself now! Ask your co-chair(s) for a complete listing of everyone’s names and contact information, including the best time to call. Read below for each team's roles and responsibilities.
Children's (and youth) activities team
Gets children and youth involved in every aspect of the project, including planning Design Day and Build Day activities for young people, as well as child-friendly fundraisers and promotional events and arranging child care during meetings and fundraisers.
These are your build overseers; they'll be well-versed in the playspace equipment, hardware, tools, safety surfacing and site. The construction captain is also responsible for recruiting and training build captains – volunteer leaders who will supervise specific build tasks.
Feeds volunteers during planning meetings, Design Day, fundraisers and the playspace build. They will be soliciting food donations throughout the community.
Raises all of the cash needed for the project - a huge job! Because both of your teams will be working to build enthusiasm and visibility for the project, it's important to coordinate your activities. Every fundraiser is a chance to recruit volunteers, and every volunteer may be willing to donate money or materials! This team may also need your help staffing large fundraisers.
Works behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly - they arrange for meeting spaces throughout the planning, plus Build Day parking, restroom facilities, electricity/water hook-up, tents, tables and chairs.
Public relations team
These folks are the project bullhorn! It's their responsibility to make sure that everyone in town knows about the upcoming build (which will help you recruit volunteers.) They will be working closely with local media and will also produce all project flyers, banners and posters - including those for volunteer recruitment.
This team has two main responsibilities: making sure that the playspace build is safe for everyone involved, and educating local children about playspace safety. They'll secure bottled water, hard hats, work gloves, caution tape and other safety materials. They'll also be responsible for creating safety rules handouts, monitoring volunteers' health during the build, and providing a skill-level tagging system for volunteers.
First, get organized with this project plan to get an idea of what resources you need, and when you’ll need them.
Next, start thinking about your community assets. What does your community have that you need? For starters, it has meeting places that may be available free of charge, or which may be donated to the project. During meetings and presentations, your co-chair(s) may need overhead or slide projectors, computer connections and other technical assistance. When it comes to the build, you may need to repair and/or set up facilities for restrooms, water, electricity, trash disposal, recycling and food preparation.
Set yourself a goal of getting every item and service donated or loaned to the project. Write down every resource you can think of — people, businesses, organizations, and institutions. Remember that personal connections are key! Start with the people you know and build a network from the inside out. Read a detailed guide on identifying community resources in the Community involvement section of the Toolkit.
The lists below will help get you thinking of potential community assets:
Individuals (This is just a small sampling!)
When people are linked together as a group, they represent another level of community skills and resources. Some organizations may be willing to prepare the food you need, or co-sponsor a donation program. They also have large membership networks...take advantage of their people power!
- Service clubs (Rotary, Junior League, etc.)
- Business associations
- Fraternal organizations (Elks, Knights, etc.)
- Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts
- Cultural organizations
- Neighborhood organizations
- Home economics classes
- Local colleges/universities
- Labor unions
Local businesses to consider
- Grocery stores
- Catering businesses
- Discount retailers