By Elise Probasco, Programming and Outreach Director
Nature Playscapes are outdoor spaces that are carefully created to facilitate nature play in a way that encourages risk-taking, exploration, and hands-on learning. Unlike playgrounds, Nature Playscapes use natural materials such as wood, sand, stone, and grass to immerse young children in nature. The goal of Nature Playscapes is to inspire children to become life-long nature enthusiasts with an appreciation for conservation. The Raymond B. Martens Nature Playscape was designed to provide children with a challenging and stimulating environment away from technology.
The space includes:
Replica covered bridge and canal boat with local canal stones
Tunnel and slide hills
Raised bed vegetable gardens with silo rainwater cistern and irrigation system
Outdoor classroom/picnic shelter
1/10th mile trike track and 11 trikes
Sand/mud kitchen play
Outdoor art frames
Natural loose parts and log climbing structures
17 shade trees and native plants to fill the space
Just yards away from the city's bike path and wetland
The largest single donation for the construction of the playscape came from the Nannie B. Martens Trust Fund. This fund was established as a memorial gift in the name of Nannie B. Martens and McClellan Martens in memory of their son, Raymond Brandt Martens. Raymond B. Martens was said to be a happy child and a lover of nature and reading. He passed away from a high fever caused by influenza at the young age of 15 in 1913. The Martens were a prominent family in Lancaster, and through the generosity of their fund, they have continued to serve the community for over a century after Raymond’s passing. The Raymond B. Martens Nature Playscape was constructed in his memory and in the hopes that his love of nature can be shared with many children for years to come.