Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Eastern Washington
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My kids are still young BUT I have two things to offer. First, my sisters and I played on our metal gymset until 13 or 14 years old. We loved the monkey bars and acrobat type stuff. The last couple years it was used more as a hangout--we loved to sit on top of the monkey bars and chat with our friends. Our set wasn't big. Second, I have nearly twenty nephews (ages 0-16) (only a couple nieces) and so when I was trying to figure this out last fall, I spoke with all my in-laws.
Seemed that in our extended family that for the older kids (8-13) it was important to have monkey bars (pretty much universal). And all ages wanted some place to climb, a hideout or fort or playhouse (anything that was "their space"), a slide had greater appeal if it was bigger. And we had various responces for anything that "helped" the imagination along such as a play telescope, steering wheel, or fireman's pole. In our family it seems that they play with it through middle school. They might use it as a hangout or occasional swing during high school.
We got a childlife firechief system. We opted to include the treehouse, 4 swings (2 regular, one buoy, one glider), monkey bars, triple wave slide, and telescope. It came standard with rope ladder, and fireman's pole. There was a "sale" that included a climbing rock wall for free so we have that too. I also liked that you climb all over the structure rather than just up a ladder to a platform. The decking is made out of marine type stuff so there isn't any maintenance for that part and you don't worry about a big splinter in a foot.
Good luck with the decision. I wanted something that would last 15 years. I am sure this will. I could buy a cheaper set and replace it when it wears out, but that would be a pain and my total dollar would probably be more. The childlife set had really low maintenance requirements which was a big appeal to me and I didn't have to set the swings on the monkey bars. (I expect both swings and monkey bars to be used often and didn't want to make people play with them on alternate days or whatever.)
After the sale price, and shipping (since I ordered online) my total was 3200.
Mom to three very active girls Anna (14), Kayla (12), Maya (8).