Play in the Rain Day 2011: Everyone Showed Up Except the Rain!

16 11 2011

A tree-climber begins his adventure at this year's Play in the Rain Day!

 As often happens when we make the choice to play outside despite a wet weather report, Mother Nature graced Eugene’s Play in the Rain Day with clear skies again this year. Last Saturday’s event at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum was attended by more than 1,500 families eager to play outside, rain or shine.

 Play in the Rain Day is organized by the Youth in Nature Partnership, a collaboration of local non-profit and governmental organizations dedicated to increasing opportunities for youth to spend time in nature. They transformed Mt. Pisgah’s White Oak Pavilion and fire pit into a bustling hub of outdoor activities, interactive games, and outdoor information.

Northwest Youth Corps tended a central fire, where participants roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Friends of Buford Park & Mt. Pisgah offered a hayride and hiking through Mt. Pisgah’s pristine native Oak ecosystem. The Emerald Empire Back Country Horsemen brought miniature horses to demonstrate horse-packing and taught principals of Leave-No-Trace backcountry travel. Children armed with foam-tipped arrows aimed for targets at Whole Earth Nature School’s archery station.

Nearby Nature's Frannie the Frog gets a curious high five from a Play in the Rain participant.

Overhead, young people dangled in harnesses from the limbs of a grand Oak tree at the River House’s tree climbing station. As in years past, the tree-climbing was a highlight. River House staff-members Brendan Currie, Kirsten Kelso, Wendy Maris, Mary Tyson, & Hannah Satein helped climbers into harnesses, and taught them how to use ropes to hoist themselves up the tree. Over the course of the day, approximately 60 adventurous youth climbed the 6 routes that Brendan and Kirsten had set.

Inside the pavilion, River House had one of 13 informational tables that offered resources about outdoor opportunities in our community. Nearby Nature offered crafts using recycled materials and Willamette Resources & Educational Network (WREN) provided an interactive station where participants learned about river drainage and wetlands, by making “rain” with spray bottles and sponges. Smokey the Bear  and Frannie the Frog were honored guests, thanks to the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management and Nearby Nature.

Those seeking more climbing opportunities can tap into River House’s community climbs at ATA, which continue into December on Tuesday and Thursday nights, 5:30-8:30 pm, and throughout the winter on Tuesdays. They’ll have to wait until Spring & Summer for outdoor tree-climbing programs, including Tree-Climbing Summer Camps.

Multiple tree-climbers enjoy the view from above the festivities.

By Jessica Land

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