Guest Column - May 2011
Find a printable version here


Bringing Nature Into Play

By Anne-Marie Spencer

Like NatureGrounds, the program features a suite of tools to assist site owners in incorporating the program elements into their own trails and paths. The guidebook illustrates case studies, design principles and execution strategies. A supporting Web site,, illustrates additional case studies, and features an interactive area where families can discover additional tools to enhance the trail experience, including books, activities and projects. The Web site was recently named as the 2011 "Best Website for Kids and Trails" by the American Trails organization.

Families using the site can also share their "playful path" experience with other site users, creating additional interest and participation. Said one parent, after experiencing a playful path located along Chattanooga's riverwalk in Tennessee, "We were so excited when we discovered the addition of play equipment and activities to do along the path. Our four lively children all found something to enjoy that matched their developmental levels. Riverpoint was already an amazing place, but we were wowed by these types of 'extras' that make our children so happy. What a gift that we can get them out of the house and away from the television, engaged with nature, being physically active and enjoying family time."

Across our land, great investments are being made in movement-based infrastructure to support healthy lifestyles and environmental awareness. By incorporating nature-based play opportunities into our landscape, we can create playful environments that provide recreational exercise, health benefits and an opportunity to engage with nature, and create tomorrow's environmental stewards through positive outdoor experiences and enjoyable playful activity.


Anne-Marie Spencer is vice president of Corporate Marketing and Communications for PlayCore. To receive complimentary copies of the NatureGrounds or Pathways for Play Guidebooks, contact her at