A Nature Immersion Experience
Our philosophy, Site, and Staff
Do you want your child to have fond memories of playing outside for hours as a child?!
Are you looking for a place where your child is valued for who they are and also challenged to grow through play?!
Do you want your child to learn how to play with others, experience the space to "just be", and a slower pace to develop without such harsh societal pressures?
Playing at River’s Edge challenges social emotional growth and every sensory system including sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste, balance, and self-awareness to cultivate
social, physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual growth.
Playing this way is a WHOLE child challenge which we call "play with a purpose"!
Through this type of play and with the guidance of trained Forest Guides, children are inspired to build deeper connections to nature, self, and others.
Peek into The Forest
We are located in West River, Maryland on the beautiful, forested property of founder and owner, Teece Nowell. Programs are fully immersed "in The Forest" to provide an experience that feels removed from man made life. There are 4 "campsites" each with their own firepit and benches, covered shelves, mud kitchen, rope climbing area, swings and hammocks, primative potty, and more depending on the site!
Our forest has a fantastic creek running through it that allows for water and mud play in the warmer seasons.
River's Edge was founded by child mental health practitioner, Teece Nowell, LCPC. Through her private practice Teece began to document the healing effects of spending time in nature for her clients. She researched her observations and found overwhelming support of the therapeutic benefits for children spending time outdoors and engaging in free play. After launching forest based programs, other professionals in various fields of child development "fell into her lap". They had come to the same conclusions in their work that Teece did in her practice; kids need to be outside more and they need time for free play to promote healthy growth and development. From this passion, River's Edge Forest Play was born and our nature play loving family of forest guides, kids, families, and schools continues to grow!
We are a diverse team of professionals from the fields of psychology, occupational therapy, and education.
The diversity of our professions makes us a well rounded team to bring the best outdoor, WHOLE child development programming for your child!
Teece Nowell, MS LCPC
Founder & Director
Teece Nowell, LCPC is a Maryland licensed clinical professional counselor in private practice. Teece has been supporting children and their families to reach their potential since 2005. Teece has extensive training working with children whether in her therapy playroom or in nature. Teece has nature immersion training and has been certified by the countries most recognized professionals; Erin Kenny of Cedarsong Nature School, Laura Park Figuerao of Outdoor Kids Occupational Therapy and Angela Hanscom of TimberNook.
Teece grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore where she spent her summers exploring marshes, creeks and rivers and seeking adventures with her brother and sisters. When they weren't crabbing, sailing or chasing stingrays on Tripp's Creek, they built forts in the woods, pedaled for miles on their country roads, and discovered adventure trails through the fields. From sun up to sun down a gaggle of kids could be found exploring and adventuring and most importuning using their imaginations.
Going back to her roots in the country of Maryland's Eastern Shore and knowing the positive impact nature had on her spirit and confidence as a child, Teece is honored and excited to share River's Edge Forest Play with children and families.
"I love how nature allows children to be free, uninhibited, willing to explore and take risk and SQUEAL for joy! Nature is where it's at!!!" TN
Brooke Herrera, MS/BS, OTR/L
Director of Administration and Occupational Therapist
Brooke holds a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Towson University and B.S. in Psychology from Lees McRae College. She has been working as an Occupational Therapist since 2015 in a variety of settings including skilled nursing rehabilitation, pediatric sensory integration outpatient clinic, and the school system. She has training in Handwriting without Tears, ALERT self-regulation program, and the Learn Play Thrive Approach to Autism. Prior to working in OT she worked as a Child Life assistant at Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital and an adaptive swim lesson instructor. Brooke also worked at REFP at the start of her OT career and was instrumental in creating the vision and mission of River's Edge.
Brooke is passionate about the therapeutic benefits of nature for all people. She enjoys spending time outdoors, and as a mom of young children herself, has fully embraced the hobby of experiencing nature through the eyes of children.
"Sometimes I just have to stop and close my eyes and listen to the sound of kids playing in the forest. That is the beautiful sound of learning. What appears as simple play to an adult is the complex work of the child. It is absolutely fascinating to witness the holistic growth and development of a child immersed in nature play!" BH
Colleen Wright MS/BS, OTR/L
Lead Forest Guide and Occupational Therapist
Colleen holds a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupation and Wellbing from Towson University. Colleen holds a MD state 90 hour general childcare certificate and a 45 hour school aged certificate. While at Towson, Colleen completed research in augmented communication and interned at Sheppard Pratt health systems working with adolescents with mental health disorders. Colleen has trained in the ConTiGo approach for nature-based therapy with children.
Colleen loves working with children and has previously been a private nanny, a school aged childcare teacher, a camp director and a Sunday School teacher. She enjoys hiking, kayaking and spending time in nature.
"I absolutely love watching the children grow in their confidence and be filled with the wonder of nature. There's nothing else like nature to bring out kid's infectious creativity, joy and enthusiasm. " CW
Lead Forest Guide
Emily holds a Bachelor's degree and Maryland Teaching Credential in Early Childhood Education and Special Education/Intervention. She has experience working with children in a wide variety of settings, including teaching hippo therapy and therapeutic riding, delivering income and group based services for children with early developmental needs, and providing one-on-one support for children with autism spectrum disorder.
As a lifelong nature-lover, Emily quickly felt drawn nature education opportunities for children of all ages as a way for them to grow and learn organically. Working at REFP combines her desire to help all children reach and surpass their goals with her passion for nature and outdoor learning opportunities for children of all ages.
"Children learn and grow best when they are given the freedom, space and encouragement they need to soar." ED
Sammi attended Anne Arundel Community College where she made the Dean's list before transferring to Salisbury University. There she is double majoring in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and remains on the Dean's list. Sammi has been a REFP guide for 4 years, where she has learned to lead and encourage children in a natural flow-like teaching environment where the children lead.
Sammi has experience working with children of all ages through her work at REFP and coaching volleyball.
" Seeing how much children grow physically, socially and emotionally in such a short time is truly amazing, they become more confident and independent during their time in nature." SL
Toni has worked in the field of childhood education for over 30 years. She has an AA degree in Early Childhood and a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management. Toni has been involved in the classroom as an aide, an assistant, a lead teacher and and a center director and owned her own center for 15 years.
Upon retiring from her center, Toni went to work for Calvert County Public Schools as the Early Childhood Liaison. For Toni, it has been a lifetime of joy and passion working with young children.
Toni is a master gardener, an avid reader and enjoys walking with her little dog, Rudy.
"Providing play opportunities and outdoor learning experiences for children has always been something I value and enjoy." TH