Families Fall in Love With Nature at Barfield Crescent Park in Murfreesboro, TN

Wild Things Class in Murfreesboro, TN
Wild Things Class in Murfreesboro, TN

With topics like Silly Sala­manders, Leapin’ Lizards and Lovely Ladybugs, it’s no wonder that toddlers flock to the Wild Things recreation program at Murfreesboro’s Barfield Crescent Park. What’s a little less expected is how much the adults who tag along enjoy and learn about the subjects.

“Moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles bring the kids and stay with them during what we call an outdoor adventure and discovery program for 5-year-olds and younger,” says Deborah Paschall, Barfield Crescent’s program coordinator. “I remember one grandmother who would always come out saying, ‘I am learning so much!’ ”

Wild Things

Barfield Crescent is a showpiece of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Its 300 acres include an eight-field softball and baseball complex, a disc golf course, pavilions and playgrounds, walking and jogging trails, and a scenic wilderness area with trails under forest canopies, a campground and access to river wading. The Wilderness Station includes classrooms and an outdoor store, and it’s headquarters for the park’s ever-increasing array of educational offerings to boost appreciation of Mother Nature’s handiwork. Wild Things was the first program offered when the park opened in 2000, and Paschall says it’s still going strong.

Located at Murfreesboro’s southern border, Barfield Crescent was made possible in no small measure by the Christy-Houston Foundation, a philan­thropy established with the $50 million proceeds from the 1986 sale of the publicly owned hospital. The tab for the park’s development, including land acquisition, was more than $8.3 million, and Christy-Houston grants totaled more than $5.6 million.

“What a wonderful gift the residents of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County received with little cost to them due to the Christy-Houston Foundation,” says Dennis Rainier, the city’s parks and recreation director.

Rainier describes Barfield Crescent as “a collaboration of all things for all people. People like Barfield because it’s truly a family park. There’s something for everyone.”

Get Involved and Have Fun

Wild Things is just one of the park’s programs that has won accolades from the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association. Another is Home School in the Wilderness, an intensive, four-hour education program presented monthly for home-schooled children. Paschall says the park is “getting on the bandwagon” of a national movement dubbed No Child Left Inside, while also exploring the possibility of opening the campground for school-sanctioned overnight camping trips.

Rainier says his department has been fortunate to enjoy community­wide support.

“People here want to do quality things in their leisure time, and they are avid supporters of our programs and facilities,” he says. “It seems like the general public is willing to step up to the plate. It’s a credit to the citizenry that they’re not willing to accept second-best.”

Barfield Crescent Park is certainly evidence of that.

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