Imagine an outdoor space specially designed to engage the imagination of a child. What would it look like? What kinds of play would it invite? What sounds, smells and objects might you find?
We’ve set out to find the answers! Our mission is to connect adults and children in our community in a joint project to design the most awesome natural playground ever. We want to get connected to each other and to the the amazing outdoor environment at Chestnut Ridge. Together, we will design a 1/2 acre of land exclusively for play by children.
A few of the ideas we’re tossing around:
- Sculptured topography including berms, stone walls, sand pits, water courses, mud areas, and natural amphitheaters.
- Vegetation enhanced by indigenous, summer and winter trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers, vegetables, and other garden plants, all of which will be designed to attract wildlife.
- Landscaping including boulders, levels and tiers, park benches, rain gardens, path systems, and grassy areas.
- Structures including gazebos, pergolas, arbors, gateways, shade tents, furniture, game tables, and climbing walls.
- An area for outdoor art, starting with a well-designed framework for the entire play area and then including mural walls, play sculpture, sound gardens, land and vegetative sculptures, and reflecting “pools.”
- Learning tools such as sundials, rain gauges, nature trails, and lots of loose parts.
- Play areas including places for old-fashioned games, group sports, and perhaps a challenge and fitness course.
In this space, children and youth will develop socially, learning to use a pulley with a friend, share sitting space on a log, and announce discovery of a bird’s nest. The playground and the community it engenders will be unlike any other the children and youth – or even the adults – have experienced. Children, youth and the adults who serve them will find such joy in their play space that they will forget the time, work out their worries, and learn more about themselves than they ever could indoors.