Army Child Development Centers Choose Nature of Early Play

Playground Renovations: constructing natural playgrounds and outdoor learning environments for military child development centers across the world

Despite the inevitable difficulties of military life, the Department of Defense (DoD) works very hard to make life for military families as rewarding and enjoyable as possible. They value the children of service members and want to allow them to enjoy carefree childhood fun in a safe and stimulating environment. Meeting these goals is why US military installations have some of the best Child Development Centers (CDCs) found anywhere.

Part of providing the best child care possible is ensuring service members infants, toddlers, and preschoolers have a fantastic place to play! Beginning in 2012, the DoD wanted to boost family morale and outfit their childcare centers with top-of-the-line playgrounds. As a result, some locations were replacing older equipment with safer and more engaging playgrounds. Other bases were building new CDCs that needed playground planning support and top-of-the-line equipment.

The CDC Program Director searched for age-appropriate playground equipment that was durable, safe, and had a variety of activities that would allow the caregivers to make the most out of their programs. The General Contractor awarded the contracts for the upgrades contacted us after seeing our products and recognizing that we offered the best quality products and designs on the market. After seeing our designs the Program Director knew our Nature of Early Play playground equipment was exactly what she had been looking for!

Military Base Child Development Centers

The DoD is dedicated to providing its personnel and their families with access to affordable, high-quality childcare. These childcare programs provide enriching environments for infants (ages 6-23 months), toddlers (18-36 months), and preschoolers (2-5 years old). Depending on the location, some military childcare facilities offer day programs and extended care services up to 24/7 operation. Some bases also have a playground for school-age children up to age 12. For example, as of June 2023, we are installing one at Joint Base Lewis McCord in Washington.

Many larger military installations have multiple CDCs with different equipment to offer our littlest military family members a variety of fun and educational activities. For instance, a new project at Fort Drum in New York will feature paint, chalkboard panels, and plenty of seating to create a perfect outdoor learning environment. Take a look at the other exciting projects we've been privileged to be involved with over the years:

2012 - Fort Knox

Our first venture into military playground construction was for the childcare facility at Fort Knox KY. This location featured the Noah's Ark play set, one of our most popular options for infant playgrounds. It's no secret—this playground was a major hit with these military families!

2013 - Fort Riley and Fort Still

After a successful project at the Fort Knox site, the army wanted to continue playground renovation for other locations. So in 2013, we were given two more military child care centers to renovate in Fort Riley and Fort Still.

2015 - McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP), San Joaquin Distribution Depot, Fort Gordon, and Fort Bragg

2015 saw four more playground planning projects. Like most CDCs, these child care facilities accommodate around 20 children in the infant, toddler, and preschool age groups. Our early childhood products, like the Galapagos and Lacewing playsets, can accommodate up to 10 children at a time, so they work very well for these types of child care programs.

2016 - Fort Benning, Fort Jackson, Carlisle Army Barracks, Fort Stewart, and Dugway Proving Grounds

And then there were five! The army was highly impressed with what they saw from our previous projects, so they added five more locations for playground upgrades. In addition, they sought accessible playground products with high safety standards that met all necessary codes and reduced the number of playground injuries they experienced. Mission accomplished!

2017 - Fort Wainwright, Alaska, and Fort Meade

In 2017 we brought some warmth to those chilly military kids in Alaska with our fantastic play equipment!

2018 -  Kwajalein, Fort Belvoir, and Rock Island Arsenal

In 2018 we started our global network of military playgrounds at the army base in Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.

2022 - Miramar, Picatinny, Dugway, and Fort Bragg

Last year we had a huge project for the military community in Miramar, California. The army was looking for a wide selection of portable playground equipment that could be moved as seasons and child care programs changed. Our Sensory Cube and Nature Bowls were perfect for adding sensory play to the infant and toddler playground with the easy portability they were looking for.

2023 - Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, Fort Irwin, CA, White Sands Missile Range, NM

Our current projects include a full array of playground equipment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and White Sands Missile Range, due to be completed in May 2023. In June, we'll finish a playground project for military members at Fort Irwin in California later in the year.

Playground Consultations for All Stages

The army loves working with Nature of Early Play because we offer playground consulting services for all stages of childcare playground projects, from the initial site visit to the installation and final safety inspection. Unfortunately, most playground consultants only handle one portion of the process, making the endeavor logistically complicated and ultimately less cost-efficient. Nature of Early Play will see each project through from beginning to end to ensure there are no hiccups along the way!

Analyzing the Playground Site and Determining Your Needs

As an example of our start-to-finish project support, Miramar's military child care center contacted us two years ago to create a world-class playground for their brand new child care facilities. They had never designed or installed a playground before, so they needed a lot of guidance throughout the process. The representative we were working with had gotten bids ranging from $200,000 to $3 million from other companies, and it seemed like the project would be a daunting endeavor. After numerous bad experiences, they were relieved to hear that we would manage the playground development process.

Developing Playground Project Plans

We partnered with the RQ Construction design staff to develop the plan for playground equipment selection and layout for their military community. Working with their design team we maximized the space available and ensuring the plan met all codes and safety standards.

Keeping our Soldier's Kids Safe

The last part of any playground installation is the safety inspection. The military takes the safety of all of its personnel very seriously, and they know that our team at Nature of Early Play has the highest standards for safety. Nature of Early Play contracts with third party, independent professional Certified Playground Safety Inspectors, so they could trust that every detail of their playground equipment would meet or exceed safety regulations. They also knew our Nature of Early Play team is as meticulous as a drill sergeant!

Outstanding Kids Deserve Outstanding Playgrounds!

The army is also committed to quality and durability in all they do, and the child care playground is no exception! They love that our recycled plastic playground equipment is eco-friendly and will withstand harsh weather and lots of rough use by rambunctious army brats! In addition, our high-quality products are known to stand the test of time, they will be entertaining soldiers' kids for years to come with minimal maintenance.

Building Long-Term Partnerships

We have been working with military child care centers for over a decade now, enriching countless military families at dozens of facilities around the globe. These playground projects have brought military kids the essential joy of play. Though the concept of a playground is simple, its impact on a child's life is extraordinarily meaningful.

When a relocation uproots a child's life, the playground is a familiar place where they can let loose with other military children and forget about the stressors of their everyday life. We can never match the level of service our armed forces contribute to the American people, but we are honored to serve their families in our own way. This is why we consider it our duty to make military children's lives the best they can be through the comfort of the playground.

If you work for a daycare, recreational facility, church, or school, contact us to bring military-grade play to your young ones. Roger that!

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