This summer, the 1990s era playground at the Warwick Valley Community Center, made of metal, wood, and plastic, began its metamorphosis into the town’s first nature play area. Fifteen teens cleared land and created a small working “loose parts” play area under three old pines, and their carpet of soft pine needles, that are near the old playground.

They were working with Daniel Mack, the creative force behind Grasshopper Grove in Cornwall, a bring-a-picnic-and-stay-all-day kind of spot where kids can cultivate their innate sense of curiosity, adventure and imagination through nature play.

“Let’s bring back the mud pies; pretend to be explorers and gold miners again! Let’s climb, build and be creative using our imagination!” wrote project coordinator Sharlene Miller-Pizza.

The Community Center is looking for help developing Three Pines Play Area, targeted for kids ages two to seven. They are planning for the removal of the old playground equipment, how the nature play area coordinates with the community garden and orchards on the two-acre property, installation of appropriate fencing and re-landscaping of the area. And they are looking for writers and photographers to help document this process so other communities can make their own nature play areas.

Want to get involved? Contact Daniel Mack at rustic@warwick.net