Girl Guides’ Playground Restored Five Years After Flood

Five years after a flood destroyed the Cochrane Girl Guides’ playground, our team was thrilled to partner with the organization to design a natural playscape for its camp in Cochrane, AB.

Camp Jubilee sits on 35 hectares of untouched nature along the Bow River, and serves as the regional hub for Girl Guides in the Calgary, AB., area. Hundreds of girls of all ages attend Camp Jubilee throughout the year for camping, programming, and exploring, so rebuilding the playground was a priority for the organization.

The low-ropes course at Camp Jubilee encourages team building.
The low-ropes course at Camp Jubilee encourages team building.

That’s where the designers at Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds came in to help. Together with our client, our team developed a multi-phased project consisting of three different areas that cover 9,200 sq. ft. Combined, the three areas will serve as a network of naturalized spaces that will allow campers to engage with each other, and with nature.

The project’s first phase, a team adventure (low-ropes) course, has already been installed for campers to enjoy. Situated between pockets of hardy native plants, the low-ropes course gives users the ability to test their team-building skills without being invasive to local wildlife or the ecosystem.

“This is the first time we’ve tackled and designed low-ropes components of this kind,” says Paul Radford, one of our designers who worked on the project. “The design included a number of custom pieces that enabled us to take advantage of the skillsets of our craftspeople, while continuing to push the usual envelope when it comes to creating natural play spaces.”

Rather than prescriptive play, the playground at Camp Jubilee is designed to be interpretative.
Rather than prescriptive play, the playground at Camp Jubilee is designed to be interpretative.

A natural playground and amphitheater with a capacity of up to 200 people will complete the project. Collectively, Paul says, the three areas were designed to cater to every age group of the about 6,000 annual campers that visit the site.

Rather than prescriptive play opportunities, the space was designed to be open-ended so campers ranging from ages 5-17 could find it engaging. To accomplish this, our team incorporated loose parts areas, climbers that pose graduated challenges, and play elements with varying degrees of difficulty into the design.

Once all three phases of the project are complete, the natural playground will deliver a unique blend of settings for all physical and cognitive abilities, and provide campers with ample opportunity for full sensory engagement and different types of play.

“Being able to replace the play equipment that was washed away during the flood, and restoring the playground for the community, made the Camp Jubilee project particularly rewarding for our team,” Paul says.

Girl Guides’ Natural Playground

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