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Chimney Court offers a new approach to children’s outdoor experience

Published on July 25, 2012

Campers and counsellors gather around the fire in Chimney Court at the start and end of each day (Photo: Min Yang)

Welcome to the first in our newest series exploring the lessons we’ve learned in designing, developing, programming and operating Chimney Court—a dedicated children’s play space and garden at EBW, and the heart of our children’s programs. Building on our long history of connecting children to nature, this unique space has many elements and ideas that can be adapted for other children’s play spaces whether they are in parks, school grounds or your own home.

If you are a landscape designer or architect, an administrator, teacher, parent or someone interested in making children’s play spaces interactive and fun, be sure to follow this feature throughout the summer and fall.


By Karen Hammond

School’s out, and Green City Adventure Camp is in full swing!

On the last day of each week, campers and staff gather for a closing celebration in Chimney Court.

Sitting in the shaded amphitheatre, the campers are joined by many of their parents. Camp counsellor Heron starts off with a song taught earlier in the week. “Wolf, bone, feather and stone,” belt out the campers. “Going to take me home.”

After the song, and some sharing of the week’s favourite nature sightings––snapping turtles the choice of many––the campers and parents enjoy a feast of pizza cooked in the wood-fired oven.

A young camper helps to prepare pizza. Photo: Karen Hammond.A young camper helps to prepare pizza (Photo: Karen Hammond)

Not only delicious, the pizza also gives these young people a chance to enjoy food they helped prepare themselves earlier in the day when they worked on the dough, sauce, and toppings—a perfect and tasty end to the week.

Throughout the summer many more children will gather in Chimney Court and head out to discover the natural world of the Don Valley. As the kids pass through, we’ll take a closer look at Chimney Court and how it acts as a springboard for children to create their own play, experience the surrounding quarry and ravine, and learn lessons about themselves and the larger world around them.