Monday, November 29, 2010

Boxerwood Play Trail

The Boxerwood Nature Center in Lexington VA has an impressive play and learning area for kids. I think their approach address their mission well, "to educate and inspire people of all ages toward becoming successful and environmentally responsible stewards of the earth." The play trail is only one stop on a system of trails that gives visitors access to wetlands, pine forests, springs and the great oak. Their site must attract visitors of all ages.

The Play Trail features a mud kitchen, rolling hill with tunnel, willow structures, recirculating creek, giant birdhouse and nest, climbing stumps and balancing logs. All the elements are located along a twisty path through an acre of woodlands. Bonnie Bernstein Director of Early Education at Boxerwood said, "we pride ourselves in having a space for young children that is unique in many ways, including name! I like to think of Boxerwood as a child's first forest. The Play Trail lures young children into the woods, where they quickly make friends with nature. And it's a safe place--there's a perimeter fence--so parents are more willing to let their kids run and play freely, the way they remember playing when they were small.

I like the way Bonnie frames the Boxerwood Center, the way she describes it makes me want to travel across the country to visit!

"We live in a particularly beautiful part of Virginia, flanked by ridges and mountains on the east and west, with lots of wonderful trails. I think Boxerwood helps give young families in our community the confidence to get out and explore more of the natural world we're so lucky to have surrounding us. That sense of adventure starts on the play trail and along other paths at Boxerwood. And it's not just families who experience nature here. All the area preschools and elementary schools send their classes every year--some grades for multiple visits in a year--to us for environmental education programming. We literally watch kids grow up in our woods."

They have put together a nice short video that shows the play trail in action. I love the quote about sticks, "The stick has just been inducted to the toy hall of fame." What an amazing honor for a lowly stick! :)   Toy Hall of Fame 

Wetland boardwalks on site offer a chance to kids to explore wild places.

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