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, express their feelings and emotions appropriately, experience the space to "just be", and to experience 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 Licensed Professionals and highly 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, child life, environmental studies 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
Colleen Wright, MS/BS, OTR/L
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
Laurel Katherine Toohey (LK), BA/MS, CCLS
Forest Guide and Child Life Specialist
Laurel Katherine TooheyLK holds a Master’s degree in Child Life with an emphasis on Child Development from the University of Charleston, SC. LK holds a Bachelor of Art degree in psychology from Clemson University. LK is certified by the Association of Child Life Professionals and previously provided services to children and families at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. LK completed a child life practicum at the Medical University of South Carolina and a semester long child life internship at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. While at the University of Charleston, LK researched the impacts of psychosocial support services for children experiencing loss.
LK has unique experiences working with children and families at hospitals, development centers, shelters, camps, and many other settings. She enjoys running, reading and spending time exploring new places.
“Connecting to nature can be considered a crucial element of human development. I love seeing kids grow in their strengths, face new challenges with courage, and learn the importance of community.” LK
Will holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology with a minor in Outdoor Education and Leadership from Salisbury University. At Salisbury he studied Developmental and Social Psychology while making Dean's list twice. He has been working with children and youth since 2011 and has worked at summer camps in West River since 2015 before starting at River's Edge. He has prior experience working with children with Developmental Disabilities and children with hearing and visual impairments.
Will has always enjoyed working outdoors and in nature which guided his choices to pursue an outdoor career and outdoor programs in college. Will enjoys being outdoors and going hiking and mountain biking as well as being on the water kayaking and canoeing in addition to holding a SCUBA diving certification. Will felt River's Edge was a perfect fit for him because he wanted to apply his Psychology degree while being able to work outdoors with children.
"Seeing children break away from technology and delve deep into their imaginations and discover new natural things and overcome the natural challenges the Forest has to offer is amazing to see" WS
Ali holds a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Sociology from St. Mary's College of Maryland. While at St. Mary's, she studied the Sociology of Childhood along with Environmental Sociology. Ali holds a lifetime membership in Girl Scouts, joining back when she was in kindergarten and currently volunteering time every summer at camp. She earned her Gold Award by developing a program to prepare athletes to compete in Special Olympics in bowling.
Ali has always loved being outdoors, camping with her troop and her family. Growing up with multiple nieces and nephews, she was always surrounded by children. She felt that River's Edge Forest Play was a perfect fit for her as she is able to combine her Environmental Science degree while working with children outdoors.
"I love seeing children playing the way I used to play. We should be outside, getting in the dirt, making mud pies, and letting our imaginations run wild." AS
Laura McNeely grew up in Texas where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Child Development from Texas Woman’s University. Before moving to Maryland, Laura worked with preschool aged children for 6 years. She began her career as a Montessori Teacher’s Assistant in 2015 and then began lead teaching for a Play-Based Cooperative Preschool in 2019. For her senior capstone project, Laura spent 2 years developing and teaching a class titled Nature Play for children ages 3 to 5. Through this experience, she learned a great deal about the importance and developmental implications of child-lead unstructured play in nature and began searching for a program where she could dig deeper into the outdoor free play philosophy.
Laura finds great joy in being a witness to the ways children connect with nature, themselves and each other. Laura loves supporting children in becoming more resilient, empathetic, reflective, and inquisitive beings and believes that it is in nature where children are most able to flourish in these qualities.
“Watching children play in the forest is like watching them breath the magic of childhood. Out here, all of their questions are unfolding and their imaginations are growing. It is quite the sight!” - LM