HARPSWELL — It can be tough to plan outdoor events in Maine.

The Harpswell Heritage Land Trust plans a number of events throughout the year to help Harpswell residents get out of their homes to explore the labyrinth of preserves, trails and public spaces that the land trust oversees throughout the town. From solstice celebrations to nature walks, the land trust is always looking for new ways to get people outside, but that can be hard when unexpected weather comes along and forces them to cancel.

With that in mind, the land trust will be opening a weatherproof, pop-up educational station open for weeks at a time in Harpswell. Families will be able to visit and participate in the pop-up at their leisure.

“I’m sort of thinking about it as a cross between an interpretive trail and an outdoor playground, in that it’s some infrastructure and some activities and some signage that encourages families to engage with each other and with nature,” said Outreach Coordinator Julia McLeod.

In addition, families can miss out on fun events if they have other obligations on the specific day of the events. McLeod wants to have something for families that wasn’t limited to a specific time or place so that everyone who wanted to could enjoy it.

“I wanted to create something where parents and kids could enjoy time spent together outdoors, but they could do so at a time that’s convenient for them and there’s great weather,” said McLeod.


Part of the station will feature an exploration area with magnifying glasses, scavenger hunts and other activities to help children and families explore the natural environment. There also will be learning materials to help people identify plants and wildlife in the area. McLeod said that she’s looking to include a nature-based creative space where kids can build small structures with rocks or make designs. There will also be a play area that might include a natural balance beam and crates, where kids can have fun and create their own worlds.

“It’s sort of up to kids to use their imagination in that area,” said McLeod.

McLeod said that she’s also looking into creating a story walk, where the pages of a story are placed along a trail. Families have to follow the trail to complete the story.

There will also be a photo area for families to take pictures to remember their trip.

McLeod said that she hoped the pop-up station would be opened up by June and would be available all summer. Because all of the parts of the station will be weatherproof and portable, the land trust will be able to place it at different preserves throughout the summer.

McLeod noted that aspects of the pop-up station were still being developed since they only learned that they would get the funding recently.

The pop-up event is made possible from grant funding announced earlier this month. The Casco Bay Estuary Partnership has awarded Harpswell Heritage Land Trust $2,800 for the project.

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