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NatureRidge Natural Playground

Let’s engage in creative outdoor adventures together!


What is a Natural Playground or Natural Play Area?

A natural playground is one that uses natural environmental elements to create play structures which elicit creativity and imagination while promoting physical activity. As defined by recent guidelines established by the National Wildlife Federation and the Nature Learning Initiative, nature play is a “designated, managed area in an existing or modified outdoor environment where children of all ages and abilities play and learn by engaging with and manipulating diverse natural elements, materials, organisms, and habitats, through sensory, fine motor and gross motor experiences” (Moore, 2014). We all have fond childhood memories of playing outside for hours at a time- climbing trees, hiking in the woods, wading in the creek or just exploring our own backyard. 

Studies and medical reports are also showing the negative consequences of living an inactive, sedentary lifestyle and with technology today, this has become far too easy and normalized. Obesity is a problem we still face in our country, therefore additional opportunities that encourage physical activity are still required.

Spending time in nature has also been proven to correlate directly with environmental stewardship. Building a connection with nature, especially through nature play at a young age is vital to establish a relationship to the world around us.

Standard playgrounds provide broad learning outcomes, but they limit the full creative potential of children. Playing in nature is also a core contributor to overall healthy childhood development.

"It’s all about sensory experiences; children judge nature by how they can interact with it rather than by how it looks. And all the manufactured equipment and all the indoor instructional materials produced by the best educators in the world can’t substitute for how it feels to a child to build a trench in the sand or squish mud between her toes. And they cannot replace the sensory moment when a child’s attention is captured by the sparkle of sunlight through leaves, the sight of butterflies or a colony of ants, or the infinite space in an iris flower."
- Vicki L. Stoecklin, M.Ed

The playground is located in Montgomery Hall Park behind  Lancaster Softball Field. Though it is open to visitors, parts are under construction with a projected completion date of April 2017.

Boxerwood Nature Center and Woodland Garden
located in Lexington, VA is the inspiration behind our natural playground project. Pay them a visit and experience all they have to offer.

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