Nature Playscape at Severson Dells Forest Preserve to Hold Grand Opening

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WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) – It’s a fight against technology says the leaders of Severson Dells Nature Center in Winnebago County and they’re hoping their new addition will get kids out from behind their phones and video games and connect with the outdoors.

Kids will be able to get creative when making music at Severson Dells Nature Center starting Saturday.

That’ll be the grand opening of the “The Grove,” a new playscape at the nature center where families can bring their kids and let them run wild, playing music with unconventional instruments, use the area for art, or build little tents and climb massive logs. The idea is to get kids outside learning new skills and getting in touch with nature.

“It’s designed so that mom, dad, grandma, grandpa can sit out on the stage and watch all the kids. Unstructured play is the key part of this and there’s lots that they can do. There’s the art pod, the music pod, there’s climbing structures, there’s a tree fort that they can make, it’s lots to do,” said Don Miller with Severson Dells.

The grand opening for “The Grove” is Saturday and what Severson Dells says may be the best part of the whole thing is it’ll be open from sunrise to sundown and all for free.

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WIFR) -- The Winnebago County Forest Preserve District invites the public to the grand opening of a unique outdoor facility on Saturday, August 9th, from 9:00 am until noon at Severson Dells Forest Preserve, 8502 Montague Road, Rockford.

A short program will take place at 10:00. Local artists and sculptors are constructing the innovative space to foster creative expression and outdoor exploration. Nestled among the trees, The Grove is constructed primarily of natural materials that provide children with free play opportunities to climb, build, hide, perform and make music. The Grove is the only recreational facility of its kind in the Rockford area.

Outdoor classrooms and playscapes are a new national trend and are designed with the intent to bring children back to nature using: fallen logs, tree stumps for seating, vertical logs for forts, slides embedded in the side of hills, etc. Nature playscapes offer a wide range of open ended play options for children while remaining safe. They are a helpful tool to bridge a gap in nature exploration that is lacking in many children today.

The Grove is a one of a kind experience designed especially for the forest preserve, but is based on the concepts and criteria of the Nature Explore outdoor classroom model developed by the Arbor Day Foundation.

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