Childhood imagination meets the great outdoors in a new playground now open at Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center. The Natural Play and Exploration area is made of natural resources and is designed for children 10 and under. Games, toys, and even seating are all made from the forest, giving the area a whimsical look and feel. Everything within the natural playground is handmade.
Conveniently located just behind the Nature Center in a shady grove of trees, this play space was first cleared by local scout Aubrey Warner as his Eagle Scout project. Warner lined the path to the play area with stones and framed the space with a rustic wooden fence.
Jones Park Forester David Jamar designed the layout of the playground and built the playground equipment. Jamar made a seesaw, balance beams, and benches out of fallen logs. He even created a tic-tac-toe table with pine cones and sweetgum balls as playing pieces. Jamar was especially excited to move a hollow tree to the play area as a play tunnel. The stump of the tree sits in the education corner, where visitors can investigate lichens and learn how trees contribute to the ecosystem.
With so many interactive options, Jamar hopes children learn to appreciate nature and the environment.
“I think the natural playground is a great project to complement all the outdoor learning experiences we offer,” Jamar said. “It is designed for younger children to help stimulate their imagination and creativity more than a traditional playground.”