If someone asked me to name one of my best childhood memories, I would definitely have to say building outdoor forts with my brother and sister.
We lived in Arizona for 6 years during our elementary school years and had countless hours of fun in the “wash” near our house. The wash in Arizona refers to a large open space with lots of rocks, sticks, dirt trails, trees and cacti. Perfect setting for incredible forts.
We would typically find a spot near a tree, start gathering sticks, smooth out the floor area for our “home”, and begin work on the roof. Sometimes, we were able to build the roof with sticks, while other times, we would need to build the roof with towels or sheets.
When building forts, we would always have the same names. I was “Sunshine”, my older sister was “SunFlower”, and my younger brother was “Blue Feather”. These names still make me laugh so hard. 🙂 We were totally in the creative zone with those names and really became these characters.
We would spend all day out there in the wash building the fort, decorating it, then playing games and hiking around the wash area surrounding the fort. Sometimes, we would bring our bikes and ride on the dirt trails that popped up here and there as we wandered around the wash.
We loved catching horned toads and trying to catch lizards. Lizards were very difficult to catch as their tails would come off if we pulled too hard. There were always roadrunners zipping through the wash as well. Roadrunners are birds that run like the wind through the desert rather than fly. They really were a sight to see.
Forts vs Electronics
When I think about all of the benefits I gained from building forts out in nature, I cannot help but compare my forts to video games, since this seems to be one of the most popular activities today for kids.
Besides the fact that its better for a child to be outside breathing fresh air than inside huddled in front of a computer or tv screen, forts are a more creative venture that promote both physical and intellectual growth.
Before building the fort, you ask yourself:
- What materials will we use to make the structure strong enough to stand up against the outside elements?
- What material will we use for the floor covering?
- Should we build under a tree or in the wide open space?
During the building process, you learn to:
- Set goals (project management)
- Work together as a cohesive team (team building)
- Find the proper materials (resourcefulness)
- Set a time table for each phase of the project (time management)
- Allocate Jobs (Independence, accountability)
- Feeling of Success attained through working as a team and staying focused
Fort Building is time well spent for kids
My fort building memories have stuck with me through the years which is a good indication of just how special this type of activity can be for kids.
We do not live by a huge open space like I had when I was growing up, but there are many ways to expose our kids to nature and the possibilities for play that exist in the outdoors.
I think I need to plan more camping trips for my family. Lots of outdoor exploring is good for everyone.
What is one of your favorite childhood memories?