My buddy and I were discussing how to build a play-structure, so my kids can have fun playing in the backyard this summer. What began as a perfectly adult conversation about the benefits of using cedar and what type of ground cover would be both safe and aesthetically pleasing, eventually turned into this great discussion about building forts and tree-houses when we were kids.
Fort building skills are essential for kids. Whether to provide adequate protection from incoming dirt clods or to provide a secret meeting place to plan out your eventual world domination, a fort is an important stepping stone on the pathway of fun. Forts can be broken down into three basic types: soft, rigid, or the trench.
- Soft forts are usually best for small indoor skirmishes or secret meetings. The basic soft fort is made by tossing a blanket over a card table or some piece of furniture large enough to crawl under. For the adventurous, there is the option of tying off a line between two objects and then creating a wall by draping the blanket over it. This can be dangerous as many adults will see this as an accident waiting to happen. Most parents find the soft fort an acceptable temporary sanctuary as long as they can leave you with the tag line, “Clean this up when you are done.
- Rigid forts are constructed of stiff materials like cardboard and plywood, most commonly held together by gravity or duct tape. They are best constructed outdoors and are very useful to duck behind when objects are being hurled at your face. Cardboard is great in a pinch, but there’s nothing like a big piece of plywood in front of you to give you an indestructible sense of greatness. However, make sure that the plywood is braced well against something solid, or you may find yourself crushed under your own fort, which is extremely embarrassing. It is most likely that your enemies will take this opportunity to pelt you with small rocks and if they happen to be your cousin, they may even fart on your head before helping you up.
- Trench forts are best when you have a large open area where you can dig a series of ditches and then cover them with plywood. Trench forts are best used by large groups, because of the work involved. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOW YOUR COUSIN TO RIDE HIS BIKE OVER YOU WHILE YOU ARE IN YOUR TRENCH FORT. This can result in bruising, splinters, and the potential collapse of your fort. This could lead to the aforementioned release of gas if you find yourself pinned underneath.
Go make a fort this weekend. Let me know what happens.