Young children have a new place to play, explore, and have fun at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. Don’t look for a plastic jungle gym in bright primary colors, though! A Nature Play Space is designed to integrate natural components into a place for structured and unstructured play and learning. In Jug Bay’s Nature Place Space, kids can balance on a log, jump from stump to stump, pretend to paddle a canoe, play homemade musical instruments, hide in a vine hut, dig in the dirt, or make artful arrangements of objects from nature.
The Nature Play Space was made possible by a well-organized intern, two grants, donations, brainstorming Girl Scouts, and the labor of about 20 young people. Emily Thorpe, a 2013 Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) intern, hosted by CBNERR, was splitting her time between the Reserve’s education and stewardship projects. Each year, CCC, which is supported by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, supports several All Hands projects, providing $1500 in funds and the labor of 20 – 30 CCC interns for restoration or environment-enhancing projects. Emily’s proposal for building a Nature Play Space at Jug Bay was chosen as one of the All Hands projects.
In mid-May,2013 twenty energetic, hard-working, and creative CCC interns converged on the Sanctuary, wielding shovels, rakes, pruners, paintbrushes, and weeding forks. Guided by Emily, they transformed the area behind the Observation Deck and the small garden in front of the Wetlands Center into Nature Play Spaces in a single day!
Native plants for the space were purchased with a $676 grant from Unity Gardens, a non-profit organization that supports the building of community partnerships through the creation of greening projects, environmental enhancement and education. Girl Scout Troop 2241 came up with ideas for the play space and later showed up to paint “tree cookies” to decorate the space. Adam’s Ribs of Eastport provided lunch at cost, Starbucks of Annapolis donated breakfast, and David Wehrs contributed free mulch.
This project is a model for partnerships—between Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks, the Friends of Jug Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Chesapeake Conservation Corps, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Girl Scout troop 2241 of Central Maryland.
The next time you visit the Sanctuary, be sure to check out the new Play Space. Chances are, you’ll see some children having a good time there, or at least a toad peeping out from one of the stumps!
Jug Bay Wetland Sanctuary is located at 1361 Wrighton Road, Lothian, MD 20711. For additional information visit http://www.jugbay.org/