Camp Sherman's new playground a hit


Last updated 10/31/2023 at 9:49am

Photo provided

A new playground is up and operating at Black Butte School in Camp Sherman.

After five years of planning, fundraising, and delays, Black Butte School and the Camp Sherman community finally have a new playground. Kids are overjoyed with this new, beautiful, nature-integrated play structure.

The playground incorporates logs of hazard trees cut from within the footprint of the playground. Other play elements include an ADA accessible pathway, ramp, and nest swing, tetherball and volleyball, a parkour challenge course, and some old-school style monkey bars. In keeping with the historical flavor of the school, the 1960s-era merry-go-round has been retained.

"After we conducted community surveys, it was clear people wanted something that would fit within the natural setting, preserve the historical character of the school, and be fun for kids of all ages and abilities," said Jennie Sharp, Black Butte School's staff member who managed the project. "We are thrilled with the way that it's turned out! The last time I supervised recess, I was offered many different kinds of pine cone ice cream from the ice cream shop set up by the kindergartners on the big logs."

First-grade student Zephyr Sharp says that his favorite part of the new playground is "the nest swing, because you can go super high, and a bunch of kids can ride at the same time."

Zoe Gonzalez, grade 5, wrote an article for the school newsletter about the playground. She reported, "every student is playing on the new playground, even the eighth-graders!"

Since the site sits on Forest Service property, Black Butte School staff, along with landscape architect Marcia Vallier and archaeologist Scott Steumke, worked with USFS to secure permits both for deconstructing the old playground and building the new one. Delays due to the pandemic, and the Labor Day fires of 2020 pushed back the permitting process two years. Additionally, no construction could take place between November and April due to ground freezing. Finally, the project was completed just before school began.

Countless community members assisted with the playground construction. Board member and alumni parent Gary Lovegren donated time and equipment for deconstruction. He then incorporated some of the old play elements into a new playground built on his property, now being used by his own grandkids. About 30 community members attended a volunteer work party, in which they stained the play equipment and the old horse barn (now PE equipment shed).

Other community members contributed by donating funds. Black Butte School's Parent Teacher Organization fundraised for three years, raising over $50,000 from many donors. (These donors include anyone who purchased a wreath during the annual wreath sale.) Black Butte School secured a $25,000 grant from the Ford Family Foundation and an additional $10,000 grant from the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation. With a $1,000 donation, 12 community members received engraved pavers that are installed in the walkway. Pavers are still available for future donations.

Additionally, many people donated in-kind services and equipment. Bethanne Blann donated the bike racks made at Ponderosa Forge in memory of her late husband, Deputy Dave Blann. Marcia Vallier Design Associates donated $25,000 in services. Archaeologist Scott Steumke donated $2,000 in services. And retired surveyor Fred Ast, donated $1,200.

Sharp said, "It was truly remarkable how many businesses were willing to contribute to the project not only with their skills but also by reducing the cost for the school."

Black Butte School is also grateful for other local companies who got the work done: Robinson & Owen Heavy Construction, who constructed the playground, and Knaughty Log Homes of Sisters, who prepped the logs.

As Zoe encouraged her readers, "You should play on it. It is helpful if you want to get in shape!"


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