League Lines: Funding Nature Play for the Community

Champaign County Chapter_Nature Playscape_500x240

The Champaign County Chapter invested in youth and nature – an investment that is paying dividends in the award-winning Homer Lake Natural Playscape.

A playscape is a landscape designed for play with the purpose of connecting people to nature using natural materials such as streams, plants, boulders, logs, earth mounds, and more to provide a highly creative, interactive play experience. The Homer Lake Natural Playscape is the first of its kind in Champaign County, Illinois.

“The League’s Champaign County Chapter was instrumental in making the playscape a reality,” says Pam Leiter, assistant director of the Museum and Education Department at the Champaign County Forest Preserve District, which oversees the Homer Lake facilities.

“They were the first organization to support the Champaign County Forest Preserve District’s fundraising effort for the playscape.”

“Our chapter has long supported – in dollar gifts and volunteer service – the various programs of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District,” says Dick Harvey, coordinator for the Champaign County Chapter. The Forest Preserve District was established in 1935 to steward the county’s natural and historic resources through conservation, education, and compatible outdoor recreation – a mission closely aligned with the League’s. “Our chapter provided an initial sum of $2,500 to start this children’s playground, which offers a unique opportunity for children to strengthen their inherent love of the outdoors, for exercise, and for fun in a natural outdoor landscape,” says Harvey. “That effort fits directly within our chapter’s focus on providing enhanced experiences in a natural outdoor environment for children and adults.”

The Homer Lake Natural Playscape includes:

  • Crawdad Creek: Explore the stream as it tumbles down the hill into the lake. You might even find a frog or raccoon track.
  • The Compass Stone: Find your directions as you play around, through, and on this massive boulder.
  • Stump Jump: Go out on a limb as you explore the 40-foot-long tree trunk and then jump from stump to stump.
  • Boulder Bluff: Climb, jump, and crawl through the boulders.
  • Spider Web Crawler: Experience what it feels like to be a spider on this 16-foot-wide web.
  • Home Tweet Home: Become a bird in our bluebird house. Explore the tree growing through the middle and scramble over the perch.
  • Native Plant Beds: Learn about native wildflowers and see how to use native plants in landscaping.
  • Willow Arch: Art and nature combine in a one-of-a-kind entrance feature that welcomes visitors to the playscape.

Pam Leiter reports that the community has been very enthusiastic about the playspace and that many families are enjoying this unique resource to discover nature play.