BRLT hosts Family Fun Day with grand opening of Natural Playground

Tue, 07/19/2022 - 8:30am

On Saturday, July 16, approximately 500 people came out to Boothbay Region Land Trust’s Oak Point Farm for its Field & Forest Family Fun Day, a day full of family activities and celebration, the highlight of which was the grand opening of the land trust’s new natural playground. The Field & Forest Family Fun Day was a free, community-wide event with a focus on bringing families and those with young children out to the preserve to enjoy a beautiful summer day and introduce them to the preserve’s newest feature. Activities included a bounce house, a variety of nature education stations, and food prepared by the Boothbay Region High School seniors in support of Project Graduation.

Early in the day, the land trust held a branch cutting ceremony to officially open the Natural Playground. Kids gathered round a pair of clippers to help Executive Director, Nick Ullo, cut the branch and officially open the playground. The children then eagerly descended on new playground—swinging in the nest swing, climbing across the gnarled tree-trunk balance beam, hopping from tree stump to tree stump, and cooking up pinecone muffins in the mud kitchen. The Natural Playground at Oak Point Farm, a play space designed by Bill Joyce of Carson Douglas Landscape Architecture and built by John Copeland of Kennebec Trail Company, was funded through the generous support of the Leland Family. This newest feature is the culmination of the BRLT’s vision for Oak Point Farm—a preserve designed to draw in people of all ages to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of our region. The natural playground at Oak Point Farm serves as an entry point for engaging kids in nature and the outdoors, bringing recreational benefits to families, school groups, and others with young children visiting the preserve.

Following the branch cutting, festivities included live music on the deck provided by Phil Brooks and Darlene Bailey in the morning, and band F Block Combo in the afternoon. Visitors were invited to complete a scavenger hunt that brought them around the pond loop, a universal access trail encircling Laanganes Pond, where participants learned about the natural habitats and wildlife on the preserve. Those who completed the scavenger hunt received a free raffle ticket to win a wide range of prizes donated by 27 local businesses, with a total value a of over $1,600.

As noontime approached, many made their way to the main field overlooking Hodgdon Cove where members of the Boothbay Region High School senior class were on hand grilling hot dogs and serving up lunch. Food was donated by Shaws in Wiscasset and all proceeds raised will benefit Project Graduation, which helps cover the cost of graduation for the BRHS class of 2023. While picnicking in the field, young children lined up for their turn in the bounce house, or simply enjoyed a variety of field games set up around the tent.

There were many engaging stations set up across the preserve to interest young and old alike including sun-prints, bubbles, soapstone sculpting provided by the Maine Stone Workers Guild, watershed model demonstrations provided by Boothbay Region Clean Drinking Water Initiative, pond study, a story trail, and plenty of opportunity for recreation and play on a perfect summer day.

This event would not have been possible without the generous sponsorship of Cap’n Fish’s Cruises, the support of many local businesses who provided raffle prizes, Shaws in Wiscasset for donating food, the Tindal family who sponsored the bounce house, and the many volunteers and partner organizations who came out to help support the event. BRLT is also especially grateful to John Copeland for his incredible dedication in constructing the natural playground.

For those who did not make it out on Saturday, the natural playground can be enjoyed every day at Oak Point Farm between the hours of dawn and dusk.