Area residents can celebrate Earth Day, April 22, with Gahanna Parks and Recreation through a week-long scavenger hunt and community service project at Woodside Green Park.

Beth McCollam, Gahanna's parks and recreation public information-marketing coordinator, said volunteers are needed to help Girl Scout Troop 678 earn its Bronze Award by completing a natural play area -- a project that will leave a positive impression at Woodside Green, 213 Camrose Court.

The Earth Day Community Service Day will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. April 22.

Potential participants can register at parksandrec@gahanna.gov or by calling 614-342-4250.

The Scout troop, which includes 10- and 11-year-old girls, helped clean the area a year ago, and it inspired them to propose a natural play area.

"We've been planning, presenting, fundraising and speaking to other businesses non-stop," said Ella Oswalt, a Girl Scout and Chapelfield Elementary School fifth-grader.

"Doing these things have taught not only me, but the rest of the girls in the troop leadership, talking and presenting skills," she said.

The play area is truly a community effort led by the Girl Scouts, according to McCollam.

Organizations such as the Gahanna Parks and Recreation Foundation, Gahanna Rotary and Gahanna Kiwanis, and businesses including Eye Columbus, State Farm Agent Andrea Taylor and Lew Griffin Insurance, have made significant contributions toward the project.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School FAB Lab students and the parks and recreation staff also are assisting.

Oswalt said the best part of the process has been planning what play structures to include, and where to place them in the finalized playground.

"We can't wait for people to use their imaginations and be active on our playground," Oswalt said.

Volunteers are needed to help build the natural play area, and clean up the park and trail along the Big Walnut Creek.

"Our parks crews have worked all winter to prune and cut trees, and collect natural materials like logs and wood chips to help keep costs to a minimum, and to ensure the area is safe," said Jeff Barr, Gahanna parks and recreation director.

"We are excited to see this project come together, and for a ribbon-cutting this spring," he said.

Similar to the #OptOutside scavenger hunt held last year on Black Friday, the week-long scavenger hunt will include clues and challenges that will encourage participants to visit several of Gahanna's most scenic areas. From April 18-25, participants can find clues and earn points to prevail as the Earth Day Hunt Champion.

Bonus points will be awarded to those who check in on Facebook using designated hashtags. Participants may begin by visiting optoutside gahanna.com for details on how to play and to receive an email identifying locations.

Amaze Escape Games is producing the hunt with support from the Gahanna Parks and Recreation Foundation.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla