Nathaniel Saumenig greets his mother, Corinne, both of Shrewsbury, during a game of peek-a-boo at The Jungle Gym Learn and Play Center Monday, Jan. 20.
Nathaniel Saumenig greets his mother, Corinne, both of Shrewsbury, during a game of peek-a-boo at The Jungle Gym Learn and Play Center Monday, Jan. 20. ( Bill Kalina photo)

It's OK if playtime gets a little wild at The Jungle Gym Learn and Play Center.

In fact, the owner of the new Shrewsbury business said she hopes it does.

Tracy Smith, a Glen Rock mother of three, opened the gym to give children 6 years old and younger a place to learn through creative play.

The Jungle Gym opened Sept. 14 at 14 Constitution Ave. in Shrewsbury at the site of a former vacuum and sewing store. It's been packed since the beginning of the month, she said.

Between 1 and 2 p.m. Monday, when many schools and offices were closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, more than 30 kids were playing at the gym.

"It was steady when we first opened, but business has exploded in January. We had a warm fall and are having a colder winter, so I think parents are looking for somewhere to take their kids indoors," Smith said.

"It gets crowded, but not uncomfortable," she added.

That Smith had trouble finding such a place for her own children -- ages 8, 6 and 20 months -- inspired her to open the business.

In 2008, she started a group for moms in southern York County. Many times they would take their children to Chick-fil-A or McDonald's in Shrewsbury "because there was nowhere else to go," she said.

Smith chose to focus on children 6 and younger because that model best fit the space.

"One day I hope to expand and include older kids," she said.

She previously worked as a manager at Starbucks in Shrewsbury and also operated a daycare in her home.

"I always liked working with kids and teaching," Smith said.

The Jungle Gym also offers parent-child classes that teach motor skills development, social interaction, bonding activities and growing through play. Classes, taught by Smith, are offered by age group: Lions for 6 to 14 months; Tiger Tots for 12 to 24 months; Zebras for 2 to 3 year olds; Music and Art for 2 to 5 year olds; Super Scientist for 5 to 8 year olds.

A fitness class for kids may be added in the future, Smith said.

The Jungle Gym is also planning an Easter egg hunt, pajama day, indoor picnic and more.

"We're coming up with a lot of fun ideas and planning ways to make indoor play fun in the summer," she said.

Playtime is $5 per child per hour or $7 for 90 minutes.

For more information, visit junglegymshrewsbury.com or call 717-942-2497.

--Candy Woodall can be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.