Children love opportunities to explore, imagine, and learn, especially in the natural environment. As adults, we may become immune to the seductive appeal of a small, green area in the neighborhood, but an adventure trail can become a jungle in Africa, a tropical island, or a faerie forest in the mind of a child… and it can stand in for a different exotic landscape on every visit. The Henderson Point Children’s Interactive Nature Playground is a place where children can be children, where they can experience this fragment of the coastal forest on their own, or with a school group. They can disappear in pursuit of insects, or leaves, or stories. They can test their limits, and rediscover nature as it changes in the seasons, or after storms, or at different times of day.
The design for the park added interactive elements: an ancient tree ring with a timeline of historical events in the life of the tree, a story circle of stumps that also doubles as a ring of stepping stones, a tunnel covered in vines through which children enter the woodland, whimsical trail signage that points the way to beloved fictional places, a “faerie house” for teachers to store classroom materials, books, and art supplies, sign markers for animals that might be encountered in this habitat. Older children can use maps and clues to hunt for the geocache hidden on the property. Elements are designed to inspire children to look closely at the environment, enrich the landscape with stories, and engage the imagination.