Édition #5

The other facets of having fun

Stéphanie BRUNON Luth Médiations, an agency creating regional appeal
Families are looking for revitalising experiences in nature. The simplicity of eco-designed children’s play equipment has a real place in the tourist offer as a way of providing a unique experience. There is something for everyone: younger children get to explore the best playgrounds; older ones rediscover sensations they had forgotten and reappropriate the natural environment in a fun and creative way.

In this way, the tourism offer is accompanying a fundamental movement: getting children back into nature, whether in the style of schools in the forest, wild (nature-focused) crèches or teaching methods that highlight autonomous discovery, etc. The aim is to put children in a situation where they can experience, physically and with all their senses, an area that has not been prepared for them in advance. It is about exploring something unique, observing living and tiny things, taking materials and reusing them in games and inventions… Families are delighted by this simplicity which brings them together naturally: the intergenerational aspect works because everyone enjoys these shared games.

(Tourist) experience is a term that has been used a lot in recent years. We often forget that the experience must combine 4 dimensions: entertainment and escapism, but also aesthetics and education, which are sometimes the neglected components. These four dimensions were explored in the Monde des Pentes experiment.

Escapism must seek to mark a change in environment, but also a temporal break by inviting visitors to take their time and experience something truly different… Aesthetics must be at the service of escapism, helping to underline the spirit of the location, without distorting it. Education is often the “poor relation” of the experiment. However, telling the story of the site being explored or offering some insight into the special features of a village or region helps to make the visit a memorable one. In this way, local authorities can make sense of offering fun activities: they promote their heritage, raise environmental awareness and play an active role in educating the public and families during their leisure time. Education does not necessarily mean giving a lesson! Gamification and storytelling are methods that contribute to learning.

I am also convinced that it is through playing in nature that we can maintain/recreate children’s links with their environment. It is an essential way of making them aware of environmental issues and raising their awareness of the world – even if only a tiny bit. Add to this a game scenario that integrates a strong story and educational content and creates intergenerational links. If you use a design that involves the locals to enhance a site by integrating their views, etc. the resulting tourist discovery product is bound to be unique and distinctive!

The challenges of fun activities in the mountains are closely linked to the questions of children in nature: what kind of offer can be devised to renew this link, to encourage children to get out, to leave the virtual world for the real world, to encourage physical activity, exploration, etc. ? What discoveries can we propose, to take advantage of increasing leisure time and to raise awareness through gamification? What framework should we build to develop without distortion, to give ideas about reconversion and reuse? The world of playgrounds must remain a world apart: in the mountains, in nature and especially in the forest, play must be reinvented. Legislation on play areas, the goal of which is to anticipate danger, encourages standardisation. Fortunately, this is circumvented by the creativity of manufacturers’ designs, but it does encourage land artificialisation. There is a risk of proposing the same above-ground play areas in the mountains as in towns and letting the soul of the place slip away, etc.

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Stéphanie BRUNON
Stéphanie BRUNON
Trained in cultural project management in sustainable tourism and regional dynamics, Stéphanie specialises in heritage interpretation and works on telling the stories of sites and regions. Whether for small or large sites in France, rural regions or protected natural areas, she assists with projects for trails, itineraries, interpretation centres and tourism development strategies.