At the NaturePlayGround…

July 8, 2016

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

I have been off this week at home with our son. We’ve done plenty of work around the homestead at Crow’s Nest, building a new raised garden bed, planting (and watering!) trees, and moving our cattle to fresh pasture. (We also worked on learning to ride a bicycle, built Legos, and cooled off in French Creek, which is make-me-scream cold, perhaps 30+ degrees colder than the air temperature mid-afternoon.)

Today we took our puppy to an veterinarian appointment and I found myself not far from NLT’s Cheslen Preserve. Why not visit Ollie Owl’s NaturePlayGround there? I mean, tonight is Friday Night Lights (sold out!) but things should be quiet there this early in the day.

I have been to the playground in a professional capacity, looking at its design with colleagues. But I hadn’t yet visited with a child. I’m pleased to report that it was a hit.

First we stopped at the restrooms (thank you!). Then I was happy to find that dogs (leashed!) are allowed in the playground. That was a relief since there was no way to leave a dog in the car in today’s heat. I hadn’t planned the side trip but did have water, leash, bowl, and treats. We stopped to admire the native wildflowers at the visitor center. I know how much work staff and volunteers put into these beds and it really has paid off!

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After we walked down into the beech forest hollow where the playground is located Owen and I walked around to each of the features and read all the signs. There was nobody else there, but he was content to try out the teepees, log bridge, seesaw, stumps, and musical instruments. Below, the dog mugs for the camera (note the leash!).

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The way the playground was really a success happened after I sat down out of the way and Owen explored on his own. It’s not a flashy place but kids will find plenty to observe and do there. He looked for earthworms, swung from a grapevine, and crawled into a hollow tree. It made a great excursion on an otherwise chore-driven day.

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