We are big fort builders over here. I love a good old fort and there is nothing better then building an outdoor shelter with the kids. We are lucky to have several forests that have lots and lots of good branch stashes for fort building. We regularly truck out to the forest to play at an existing fort or build an entirely new one.
I love that fort building combines so many awesome things: engineering, designing, planning, physics, math, collaboration, safety skills . . .the list really goes on. Plus, all the imaginative play that follows is worth the sweat it takes to build a fort from scratch. We have spent so many days building forts and playing in them for hours upon end. I love to pack some warm golden milk in thermoses and enjoy a warming beverage with the kids when we’re done constructing our new shelter.
Our Tips for Building Outdoor Forts
I am by no means an expert fort builder. I’m just a mom who thinks forts are super cool and I like to build them with my kids. So here are MY tips, not the definitive guide on fort building.
1. Start Small
If you’re new to outdoor fort building, start small. Our favorite kind of fort is one where we simply lean large branches against a tree trunk. There isn’t a ton of space, but a few small children can certainly fit. You can also build out the fort completely around the tree trunk like this fort below:
2. Beware, it is a workout.
The kids help me, but usually I end up building the more elaborate forts. The last time I built a fort, I was sore for three days because the logs were so heavy! But the great news is that all this work is some awesome natural movement for both the kids and me.
This is probably the hardest part about fort building a fort. Finding enough of the correctly sized branches can be a challenge. We actually start collections and sometimes it takes up to a year to collect all the pieces before we have enough to actually start a fort. The best time to gather supplies is after a windstorm! We also take “those perfect” branches that we find on hikes with us so we can add them to our fort stash. Our car is a roving fort supply machine.
4. Not enough sticks? No problem!
If there are not enough sticks, you can collect other items to fill in the gaps. We like to use lots of moss, lichens and bark to fill in the gaps.
5. Fort Inspiration
My favorite fort book, while rather antiquated, is this a gem called Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties: The Classic Guide to Building Wilderness Shelters. Some of the shelters are rather complicated, but I love how detailed the book is and how many fort designs it covers!
This article originally appeared on Rewildhood Blog and is reprinted here with permission. You can read more about Kari and her adventures getting kids into nature at https://www.rewildhood.com/blog or see her professional photography at https://www.cedarandfigphotography.com/