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Indoor Playground Systems for Churches
By: Phil Dueck and Any Perez

Indoor playground systems have been a staple of family-based businesses for well over two decades.  Indoor playgrounds have an outstanding safety record, and indoor systems are fully padded, contained, and built for enjoyment and safety. 

Playgrounds inside the church offer a solution to the challenge to keep kids active, physically and socially, and create a comfortable and exciting environment to learn. However, purchasing a play system for commercial use can be a daunting task for those unfamiliar with standards, norms, and the design of such apparatuses. 

In the world of indoor playgrounds, like any, you get what you pay for, but if you do not understand what the median price is, even the lower echelon of the scale still seems expensive, yet the quality of the equipment will not be what you are expecting. So, how do you know? 

Here are several ways to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable company.

Ensure the provider carries “product liability insurance.”  
Ask to speak with the insurance company of the manufacturer and find out exactly what their coverage really is, how many claims it has had against it, and if you can be named as an additional insured on the policy. Do not work with a company that cannot provide this to you.

Ask for references and call them. 
A good manufacturer should easily be able to provide you with at least 50 references. Do not accept any less than 50 and call them randomly.

Check bids. 
Is the price you are being quoted far less than the others? If so, the manufacturer has to be cutting corners somewhere and it is likely on the product. In custom playground building, there is no such thing as “we buy bulk” discounts.

Go and see the product. 
The purchase you are making typically is pretty large, and a good company will reimburse the cost of your trip to anywhere in the USA or Canada to see their products live. It is worth the time.

There is no rush. 
“It’s the end of the quarter, I need to show numbers” or “we are having a sale now only” are misleading statements. There are no sales in custom manufacturing.  

Go and see the factory.
Again, the manufacturer has no problem covering your flights if the purchase is of reasonable size. Also, the manufacturer should provide a custom design, consultation, and proposal at no cost and with no obligation.

One recent trend that churches have embraced alongside of playground systems is theming. For those growing up in a church environment, cute murals of Noah’s ark and the Creation were very quaint and common usually in the nursery area. But, now, full on “theming” of children and youth ministries has become the wave hitting much of North American churches.

As society changes and develops, so must the church keep up with the ever-growing demands and advances that compete for the attention of younger generations. “This isn’t your grandma’s church anymore!”

Over the past 10 years, there has been a huge awareness to attract children to church. A well-known pastor recently stated that if the church isn’t ministering to children, it has a good chance of not surviving the next five years.

Churches are now adopting the idea that if an environment is created that is exciting and a blast to come to every week, children will be dragging their parents to church! Once the environment draws them in, they can experience the gospel and biblical principles in a fun and exciting way.

Not only is the church of today seeing the need in developing Christians at a young age, but there is a standard of excellence that children are used to. Daily, children immerse themselves with the latest trends, entertainment, and technology.

Why can’t the church do the same with their environments? After all, Disney, Nickelodeon, and Universal all are competing for their time and attention. But what the church has to offer besides all these entertainment venues is “relationship” and that is key.

Progressive, contemporary churches are not only investing in murals as in the past, but church theming includes stage set design, puppet theatres, vinyl wall coverings, graphics, branding, logo design, 3D props, 2D reliefs, special effects lighting and sound, and even indoor playgrounds. They’re using everything to appeal to all five senses!

Design trends recently have shifted to the use of color and graphics instead of being “locked in” to a particular theme. Budgets can range anywhere from $5000 to more than $500,000, but in the end, it is all about the environment that enhances the experience that a child will walk away with and remember for the rest of his or her life.

Phil Dueck is vice president of sales, North America, for Orca Coast Playground, www.orcacoastplay.com. Any Perez is president of LE Creative Studios, which specializes in church facility theming.

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Religious Product News