Spring is for Playing Outside!

By Britney Tatters on May 4, 2017.

Spring is here, and with days full of sunshine I am most content working outside.  I have designed and began construction of Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE)’s new nature playspace.  I have had the help of FENCE staff members, another AmeriCorps member, and a volunteer.  It has been a feeling of great accomplishment to work in the dirt, build something from scratch, and be creative with problem solving.

We’ve moved dozens of logs that were on the FENCE property that would have otherwise just decomposed or would have been chipped.  They are now hopping logs, balance beams, benches, and climbing logs.  Utilizing natural materials has made this project virtually free of any cost. 

Nature playspaces are exactly what they sound like, a place in nature to play.  Unlike playgrounds, they incorporate natural materials for children (and adults) to run, jump, hop, climb, and engage with the outside.  Nature playspaces are unique and individual to their locations that foster creativity and connect people to the outdoors.  The function they serve is to not serve a function but rather let kids go outside and use their imagination.  The hopping logs could be safe places to hop over the lava on the ground; or the fort they build could be their kingdom’s castle over all the land. 

I feel like it is more critical than ever to get children outside and engage with the natural environment.  The rise in technology and screens everywhere may have an impact on attention, take away from time spent outside, and the act of being present.  Richard Louv describes this phenomenon as “Nature Deficit Disorder” in his book Last Child in the Woods

 My hopes for this project are to get kids outside, have fun, and connect with nature.