A few weeks ago during the “grey area” of boredom between camp and the start of school, my son had a playdate with an old buddy from preschool. He and this particular pal have a history of getting into trouble – the last time he was here, his friend jumped off the back of a recliner and broke his arm. So it’s amazing and wonderous to me that his mother still allows him to come here. However, his last visit was no less dramatic. The two of them (once again somehow eluding parental supervision) managed to get their hands on a saw and took down three of the smaller trees in the small “woods” behind our house. This wouldn’t be so tragic, except that one of them was a dogwood. So I felt guilty, and heartbroken – and furious.
When asked what they intended to do with the sawed-off trees, they answered “build a fort!” On some level I was pleased with this, no doubt because of my nostalgic fondness for the Little Rascals, but I felt that the only way I could make peace with the loss of the dogwood was to insist that the fort actually get built. Luckily, I had recently picked up this book at a garage sale.The purpose of the book is really to teach survival techniques to children, but one of the illustrations caught my eye. This hut is something that can be built in the woods to use as shelter and to keep warm- not a bad thing to know how to do if you’re a hiker or explorer. The idea is to build a frame by propping larger branches up on an achor (could be a rock, stump or sawed-off tree), fill in the sides by leaning smaller branches against the frame, then weave in more sticks and leaves. I saw no reason why we couldn’t apply this technique to fort-building. So I assembled the destroyers and put them to work.
It’s not hard to find big branches in our yard –especially since recent storms had done some minor damage to the trees.
We employed a few bamboo poles that were previously staking the tomatoes.
Look around your yard and see what’s available – old lumber works too.
Give the branches better stability by anchoring them a few inches into the dirt. Then just find thinner, more flexible sticks to weave in between the bigger branches. Fill in the spaces with clumps of leaves - old vines work great, too. (We'll have more supplies in a couple of weeks when more leaves are on the ground!)
Then, you can either “rough it” or ask your mom to bring you lunch.