Slacklining Is Not a Crime

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Slackline Teaser from william watt on Vimeo.

Last week I set up a slackIine in my backyard for the first time. Chloe, my three-year-old, wanted to help, which meant she'd just be in the way unless I actually gave her something to do. So she got a job. "Chloe, I need you to do something very important. Can you do it for me?"

"Sure I can, Papa!" she said.

"Okay, here." I wrapped a sling around the mesquite tree, clipped a carabiner and told her, "I need you to hold this.  It's the most important job."


"Don't drop it."

"I won't."

(maybe you recognize that conversation?)

"We're setting up a slackline.  Can you say 'slackline'?"

"Slackline." What a bright, thief-of-my-heart kid.

We got the whole contraption set up, and I stepped on the line and balanced for a moment. Guess what happened? Yeah, uh-huh, other than I fell off. Chloe goes, "It's my turn!"

And it was her turn all afternoon. I picked her up by the armpits, set her on the line, and she did a nice job keeping her feet going from one end to the other. "I want do the slackline again." Over and over.

I can see that I'm setting her up for life. She'll be equipped to hang with dirbaggers in camps all over the world once she gets the hang of it. Truthfully, this is a super campsite activity for kids. And parents.

It's kind of a trip that William Watt calls this video a teaser. Yeah teaser.  If you've tried your luck and concentration on a slackline before, you know well the drama that unfolds in your head on your very first time. When you watch others on the line, conversely, it's hard to understand the challenge - the intoxicating and seductive challenge - of trying to balance on a piece of damned string. That is until you get on it.

First, you say, "Oh, I'm too old to do this. I look like a fool." And it kind of resembles an idle waste of time, much the way skateboarding did to adults 20 years ago when we kids were scraping the paint off (or trying to) of every handrail around with our Powell-Peraltas. But it's fun and addictive and silly and challenging.

What I love about this video is the mood set by Matisyahu's One Day. Idealistic and young and naïve - which isn't really a bad thing, but a beautiful thing:  they'll be no more wars / and our children will play / one day.

And now nothing pleases me the way Chloe's voice asks, "Can we do the slackline, Papa?"

slacklining over a field of yellow flowers


Erica Lineberry
+3 / 0
# Erica Lineberry 2011-04-11 05:20
Fellow slacklining family here! You're right, its the perfect camp activity for kids - can't wait til my 1 year old is big enough to try it for real - but for now he just likes bouncing on it in my lap (it was the BEST way to calm him down when he was really little!)
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Mark Stephens
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# Mark Stephens 2011-04-11 15:47
So awesome. If your little dude ever wants to take my daughter to homecoming or something, I'd be cool with that. :-)
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# Tabea 2011-04-15 09:43
Dude. Totally inspired! Whats the best(aka. "cheapest") line I can get to try this out? We like to do a lot of camping, and it's probably a lot healthier to mess around with a slackline than eat my 50th smore around the campfire!
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# Mark 2011-04-16 07:16
Oooh, I don't know. The best and the cheapest are typically not the same thing.

Here's what you need, though:
  • 50-70 feet of 1" tubular webbing
  • 2 slings large enough to wrap around a tree, or whatever your anchor might be.
  • 5 carabiners (some set ups only need 3)

So you're into it for about $50.

Hit up Google for "how to set up a slackline" and there will be no shortage of information.
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+1 / 0
# Mark 2011-04-16 07:22
This page has one of the better how-tos out there, I think. There's a video and step-by-step instructions below the video.
How To Set Up A Slackline
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# Tabea 2011-05-10 10:20
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