Tag Archives: playground

Camping in Maine

We (Alex, Jen, Mama Angelika, and Bella the dog) went for a 7 day camping trip to Maine. This post is a cross between telling the stories, writing down the suggestions for making it work as a resource, and memos to myself for what to do different for the next time.


Google said it would take just under 4 hours to get from our house to the campground. It took 5 1/2 with pee stop, snack stop, pee stop, ice-cream stop, pee stop. That’s a long time for two active kids to sit, so I had prepped heavily with a lap table, picture books, coloring books, treasure hunt, and audio books.

The car tables I got were the Star Kids Snack and Play Travel Tray – which just sits on their lap and buckles around the back of the car seat. I loaded up the pockets on either side with drink bottle, snacks, crayons, and small coloring book.

The audio books I had with me were Bad Jelly The WitchandMagic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8on CD on loan from the Library. Alex in particular was very interested by the Tree House books and listened to the whole lot over the week.

Hint: I also found lots of audio books that could be borrowed for 2 weeks through the online loan system that lets you download files to your media player.

The drive went really quite well. The trickiest part was getting everyone to agree they had everything packed. Bella the dog had the front passenger seat and tried to lie down – often pushing the gear stick from D to N. I initiated a pit-stop every time they got restless, which is a change from other travels where I tried to make it to a certain place before stopping. Here I just figured that the main goal was to keep everyone happy – even if it took us an hour longer.


Several friends had recommended Searsport Shores Ocean Campground as a child-friendly, fun place to take young children. The more I read on their website, the more excited I got – they were writing about their goats, organic gardens, resident artists, and activities on the beach.

Wobbly bridges at the playground

Wobbly bridges at the playground

And it was even better than I had hoped for. There was a huge playground they had built themselves, and which was therefore interesting. There was a really nice play room with a cozy book corner (if you can call that many shelves a corner) with good books, a fireplace, and a shop for ice-cream (and various fiber arts and camping supplies).

The bathrooms were spotless, there were free hot showers, and even a handicapped stall, which is good for wrestling kids into the shower. There are also lots of washing machines and dryers. Turns out this is very useful if your theoretically potty-trained 3 year old has an accident and pees in her sleeping bag. Sigh.

The campground also has lots of gardens full of interesting plants for eating and dyeing. There are lots of sculptures, wood carvings, and little treasures to discover in the forests. And an amazing art studio occupied by a rotating cast of artists-in-residence.


I chose a campsite where we could also park. The campground has sites where you have to walk a couple of hundred feet from car to campsite, but this seemed like a lot of hassle with little kids. Our campsite was shaded and all round really lovely. It had several trees where we built Fairy Houses, a fire pit (wood for sale at office), and a water faucet 10 yards away. The toilets ended up being a little bit too far for us. Next time we’ll get a closer site, and with electricity so I can recharge my phone.

Good things I brought for the campsite:

  • potty – even though both Alex and Jen are totally potty trained, sometimes we still get the “I have to go potty NOOOOWWWWWW!” and then it was good to have only a couple of feet to go. I have the Kalencom 2-in-1 Potette Plus, Blue with disposable inserts.
  • 10 different flashlights – variety is the spice of life here, apparently
  • 100 glow sticks – each kid got 4-6 glow sticks each night as a night light
  • wet wipes for when the kids refused to get washed in the shower
  • bikes – Alex tore up the campground riding back and forth and we managed to get to places (bathroom) without spending 30 minutes trying to drag dragging feet.


Turns out the Searsport Shores Ocean Campground has artists that stay there for a whole week and provide activities for the whole family in the custom Studio.

Check out the schedule for this year:

Week of: Artist in Residence Activities
June 23-29 Tom Cote Wood carving and whittling
June 30-July 6 TBA Ocean learning adventures
July 7-13 Barbara Andrus Weaving a Shorefront structure from twigs and driftwood
July 14-20 Blake Henderickson Wood Block Buffet
July 21-27 Susan Tobey White & Jeannie Painting, drawing and seeing
July 28- Aug 3 Ellen Mason Playing with Dyes and Yarn and Fabric
Aug 4-10 Steven Scheurer Chain Maille, Macramé & Caricatures
Aug 11-17 Maryly Mathewman Seaside Quilting and Color play for all ages
Aug 18-24 TBA
Aug 25-31 TBA
September 1-8 Fiber College 4 days of amazing fiber classes, demos, vendors and happiness

Pretty awesome!!!

Dyeing with EllenWe got there halfway through Ellen Mason‘s week, but she had us promptly dyeing, stitching, cutting, etc, although she also does a lot of knitting and designs patterns. She was super fun and engaging and both kids looked forward to going back to the studio – sometimes we went twice a day 🙂

Next artist-in-residence was Steven Scheurer, a.k.a. Santa. He looks like Santa, and does a lot of volunteer work and charity stuff as Santa, and as an all-round nice guy taught us how to make survival bracelets and chain mail. This was a bit above Alex and Jen, but I (and all the older kids) had a great time making bracelets and dog collars.


The campground has it’s own private beach, and they ran several activities during our time there: seining – catching little fish with a net for the kids to look at and crab hunting  (for an invasive species) were the ones we made it to. They put a lot of emphasis on conservation and the ecology of the beach and made it fun and education for all.

Tide pools

Tide pools

It’s a rocky beach with a pretty big tide difference. That meant that at low tide we could find lots of different shells, look at the rock pools, wade around looking for green crabs, and chase the occasional little fish in clear cold water. It’s not a sandy swimming beach and Alex and Jen asked for one of those a couple of times before they got used to the rocks and being interested in the animals there.

Another blog post will follow about what the camping experience meant to us personally, but meanwhile here are some pictures:

Suffolk Park Malden

The Playground Hunt Meetup group is off to a roaring start. I guess there are a lot of people out there who want inspiration and motivation to explore new outdoor play spaces (or old favorites with new friends?)

The meetup is here: http://www.meetup.com/Playground-Hunt-active-kids-outdoors/ – we have 10 meetups coming up, so please join us 🙂

This morning we went to a (new to us) playground in Malden. Erin, one of the meetup members suggested it, and everyone who came thought it was quite excellent.

View Larger Map

The playground is a large connected structure, probably more fun for kids over four years old. There are nets, and climbing walls, ladders, and 4 or five slides. They are all fairly steep on the end that is more geared towards the big kids. The end by the stairs is for smaller kids, but they are all connected. There is a tire swing, and a lot of grass to run around on. The field also had a port-a-potty.

The best on this hot day was when the grass sprinklers turned on. Then all the kids were almost instantly wet. And mostly naked. Sigh 😉

And here are my photos from this morning:

playground music

Binney Street Playground

Randomly found a rather nice playground purely by accident. This one is tucked into a corner of a large parking garage, but really surprisingly nice. Maybe not worth making a special trip for, but if you’re hanging around the Kendall Square area near the movie theater,  it’s worth a look.

View Larger Map

The playground is -erm- landscaped with fake grass, but it’s actually quite pleasant. It was super clean and had a very nice picnic area, which even included a mini picnic table for kids. There is a good music corner, and the climbing structure had several interesting panels Alex and Jen found interesting. There are the obligatory slides and climbers of course. No sandbox, though there are some raised bowls, which I think can serve as sand tables or water tables.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

Endicott Park

We joined a Meetup.com meetup at Endicott Park in Danvers. We’d never been, but it is only 15 minutes from our home in Stoneham, and it was great fun. It’s run by the town of Danvers: http://www.endicottpark.com/

Located in northeast Massachusetts, in the Town of Danvers, Endicott Park encompasses 165 acres, and is home to some of the most unique and varied recreational land on the North Shore.

The park’s varied landscape includes pastoral views, historic farm buildings, orchards, woodlands, and marshes, with a network of trails and gravel roads for stress free and stroller friendly exploration of the park.

Entrance fee to the park is $1 for residents and $3 for non-residents during the weekend. Free during the week, but they are looking for donations to purchase a new climbing rock for the playground. And I always support people who want to improve a playground 😉 (For my playground project see http://RebuildingRounds.org)

Anyway, the playground area is fully fenced, has lots of benches, lots of shade trees, and lots of space with grass. There are two areas, one for the 2-5 year old set, one for the 5-12 year old set. Both are well designed, usable, and FUN! There are lots of swings, thought the ones with the infant seats and the big kid seats are at opposite sides of the playground. There are NO TRASH BARRELS since this is a carry in – carry out facility. Bring a plastic bag.

There are restrooms, some farm animals, some strolling trails, and lots of meadows and trees for frolicking.

Inserts for Advent Calendar: Signs and Logos

I started making this collection of Boston Area attractions a couple of years ago in the hope of printing it and putting little slips of paper into my children’s advent calendar. Finally got back to it and will ACTUALLY do it this year (rather than just putting in some badly hand-drawn pictures) ==>BostonLogos <== pdf file

And here are the logos I have included so far… Hope it helps with making an excellent adventure-filled month of December.

Top 5 Playgrounds from Summer 2012

We went to a lot of playgrounds this summer, and here is a short list of our five most favorite ones.

Spaulding Playground (Wakefield) is a beautiful playground right on the shore of Lake Quannapowit in Wakefield. It has a large structure for 5-12yo, a separate structure for under-5yo, a very large number of swings, plenty of benches, a water fountain, a beach (no swimming though). We can spend hours and hours here and then go across the road to get a bite to eat.

PlaygroundHunt at Spaulding Playground


Greenwood Park Playground (Stoneham) is a large, shady playground in the north of the Middlesex Fells, just opposite the Stone Zoo. There is a huge sandbox, liberally stocked with donated trucks and shovels, a very fun big-kid structure with our favorite slide ever: THE Tunnel Slide. This playground also has a structure with slide for toddlers, several picnic tables, a circle of six sit-on wobbly toys, and my favorite: a large stone wall, full of possibilities. It is easy to go for a short hike through the Fells and explore the forest and marsh.

Playground Hunt at Greenwood Park


Paulina Street Playground (Somerville) is right in the middle of Davis Square in Somerville.  This is a very friendly playground, where we have had many great experiences with other parents supervising and encouraging their kids to share and be kind. We call this the Yellow Playground because both the under-5yo and the older kid structures are bright yellow. There is also a nice club-house with a several (!) donated play kitchens, a beautifully designed, shaded sand river, some swings, and a water-pump play feature. Alex and Jen mostly run around in circles here…

Paulina Street Playground

Springs Brook Park (Bedford) is a pay-for-use facility operated by the Town of Bedford. It is a man-made lake with lots of lifeguards and zero-depth entry from the sandy beach all around. The sprinkler park is our favorite in the Boston North area. There is also a playground, but the surfaces are usually boiling hot, so we just spent our time going between sprinkler park, lake, and the very reasonably priced concession stand.

Spring Brooks Park

North Point Park (Cambridge) is near the Museum of Science, beautiful, huge, and rarely visited, perhaps due to the two-hour parking limit nearby. There is a separately fenced toddler playground with water feature, several slides, several innovative structures, and a shaded picnic area. Outside the toddler area are three other huge big-kid play structures and a sprinkler park. From this playground you can also see trains and boats on the harbor. We always leave here happy.

Playground Hunt at North Point Park in Cambridge

Art in the Park – Playground Hopping

Welcome “Playground Hopping”

I was so happy to see another playground blogger in the Boston area. Please visit Playground Hopping’s new blog at http://playground-hoppingmass.blogspot.com/ and check out her other posts. Here is one with lots of pretty pictures of Boston area playgrounds from earlier this month…

“Parks and playgrounds should invite you in, be a place to relax and chat with your neighbors while your kids play and meet new friends. If you’re lucky, you might come across something very rare…ART IN THE PARK! In our search for more art, we uncovered IconParks right here in MA that designs wonderful playgrounds. Like Dorothy following the yellow brick road, we will hop along to every playground designed by IconParks. Below is some of their work, in addition to wonderful artwork we’ve discovered in Boston and Cambridge.

Dorothy Curran Playground – Dorchester, MA
Alexander Kemp Playground – Cambridge, MA
The Esplanade Playspace – Boston, MA
Created by artist and poet Mitch Ryerson
Julia’s Playground – WWI Memorial Park – North Attleboro, MA
Creekside Commons Park – Chelsea, MA
Julia’s Garden – WWI Memorial Park – North Attleboro, MA
Playground Hunt map of playgrounds near Boston

Sprinkler Parks near Boston

Playground Hunt map of playgrounds near BostonNorth Point Playground (Cambridge – map) – big water feature, superb playgroundS near Museum of Science (read my review at this LINK)

Springs Brook Park (Bedford – map) – man-made lake with sandy beach, playground, and huge sprinkler park, concessions (read my review at this LINK)

Grimmons Playground (East Somerville – map) – separate fenced toddler area, big kid playground, sprinklers – beautifully designed (read my review at this LINK)

Cedar St Playground (Cambridge – map) – shady playground with sprinklers (read my review at this LINK)

Simond’s Park Playground (Burlington – map) – large playground with structures for all age groups, wading pool (read my review at this link)

Fort Point Playground  (South Boston – map) – large park by harbor with beach and well designed playground (not sure where my review went)

Lederman Park (Boston – map) – by MGH/Museum of Science – never made it but it looks awesome from Storrow Drive.

Bradley Palmer Wading Pool and Playground (Topsfield – map) – wading and sprinkler park – this will be the summer we make it!

Spy Pond (Arlington – map) – large fenced playground with structures for toddlers and older kids, sandbox, and by a couple of little beaches for wading in Spy Pond (read my review at this LINK)

Albion St Playground (Somerville – map) pleasant playground with a fun sprinkler/water feature – not sure why I never wrote a review, but this playground made for a nice couple of days last year

Playground Hunt offspring at Springs Brook Park

Bedford Water Park – Springs Brook Park

Since the couple of photos I posted on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PlaygroundHunt) got so many questions about the where, what, and when, I figured I better write a slightly longer post about the awesomeness that is Springs Brook Park, or possibly Spring Brooks Park. Who knows? The GPS address is 171 Springs Rd, Bedford MA 01730

Ignoring various spelling on various locations, all I can say is that Alex, Jen and I have thoroughly enjoyed this place for the last three summers.

It is a public, man-made beach with sprinkler park, lake, playground, and a very reasonable concession stand. It costs money to get in, but the maximum per day per family is $25. Bedford residents can get a season pass cheaply. They only take cash.

The staff are superb, there are lots of very attentive lifesavers, the place is clean, the people are friendly.

We bring a picnic blanket, snacks, lots of sunscreen, and swim stuff. I’m looking into buying a beach shelter thing, just because the trees shade the side of the lake away from the sprinkler park, and I like to plop down in between.

Stoneham Family Fair – thoughts

I’m starting to recover, about a week after the big event. For those who missed the whole thing, I organized a family day to benefit rebuilding AP Rounds Playground with two of the most awesome partners imaginable: Tania and Lindsay.

We had 80+ish craft and food vendors, 11 sponsors, a train ride, a golf game, face-painting, balloon animals, soccer, and great music.  We had a dumpster, port-a-potties, police, a dedicated ambulance, the Stoneham Health Inspector, trash cans, and a DPW worker.

We had lots of people, and lots of great comments of how much our visitors enjoyed the event. We raised over $7000 towards rebuilding our neighborhood playground.

This is what three moms can accomplish.

We’re proud of what we did, but will we do it again? I’m not sure. I didn’t look after my two children as well as I would have liked and feel guilty. I didn’t look after my two chronic illnesses, and almost ended up in hospital. I got abused by two vendors on the phone, and answered emails and phone calls to the detriment of my business making websites.

Now it is time to recover, spend the rest of the summer playing with my children, and publish this cathartic blog post.

But then I’ll have to pick up signs, write “thank-you” letters, get receipts for the tax-deductible booth spot “fee”,  bank all the checks with the Town of Stoneham, work on some press releases,…