GameTime, a leading manufacturer of commercial playground equipment, outdoor fitness equipment and custom playscapes, recently opened a Play Trail in Camarillo Grove Park in Camarillo, California. The play space combines nature-themed play pockets with educational signage to encourage children and families to rediscover the natural environment.
The Play Trails concept is based on the research of the Natural Learning Initiative and their breakthrough program, Pathways for Play. Pathways for Play was developed in partnership with PlayCore and helps communities integrate play – critical for children’s health – into walkable, bikeable, shared use community pathway networks infused with “play pockets” providing opportunities for playing along the way.
Tyler Kyriopoulos, Vice President of Great Western Park & Playground, is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist who was excited about designing this unique play environment. “Play Trails is such a fun way to reconnect children and families with nature,” said Kyriopoulos. “There are great pockets of play around every bend of the trail. Children can pretend to be different animals, like ants or bees, and experience the animals’ natural habitat. The informational signs give adults an opportunity to interact with children along the way and learn about animals and the natural environment.”
The project was made possible through a grant from the American Water Charitable Foundation (AWCF), administered by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA). The grant is part of the Building Better Communities philanthropy initiative by American Water (NYSE: AWK). The project is the only nature center of its kind within a 35-mile radius and is an important part of the community’s efforts to reconnect children and families with nature.
In a statement released on the American Water website, Barbara Tulipane, President and CEO of NRPA, said, “Parks and public lands are integral in conserving natural resources, but it is experiences and interactions that foster a strong sense of responsibility and appreciation for nature – especially among children.”
AWCF selected the Camarillo location because of the community’s commitment to fostering a greater sense of appreciation for the environment to enhance the quality of life in a fun and engaging way, an important aspect of American Water’s corporate mission. Debra Version, AWCF President, stated on the American Water website, “This project will not only enhance the quality of life in the community, but will also encourage the continued viability of and appreciation for our nation’s water resources.”
The Play Trail at Camarillo Grove Park has been designated as a National Demonstration Site for Pathways for Play by PlayCore. National Demonstration Sites receive certification, become part of a national registry, and are promoted actively to other communities wishing to offer appropriate environments to promote outdoor immersion.