Home woodland den?

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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,823
774
Lancashire
I've got a soon to be 8 year old son and we're going to be moving into a new house with a garden. It's a decent size, sloping with a few flattish seating positions and heavily wooded with trees and shrubs. I'm not sure what's exactly there but from memory there's likely to be a few things to cut down. It's possible that there's some decent sticks to make a den.

How would you make a child's den?

I'm thinking lavvu style with a tripod of forked sticks then others leant against them then a cheap tarp tied around them.

Or an A frame lean to with something over it.

Or something else.

It's probably academic because I might not get anything decent to use but if anyone has any ideas for limited resources and options if there's a few more good sticks I'd be grateful. Den making is one thing he likes doing on a walk. They're not very good as there's rarely decent branches where we make them. Usually it's branches against a tree or something else with anything like fallen leaves, loose moss or bracken as a basic cover. It's just a bit of fun for the selfie opportunities on a walk but at home I'd like something better for him. I just don't know about getting a proper play fort built as I don't know how much longer he'll find such things of interest.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,823
774
Lancashire
Probably just keep it simple then. A frame, to teach lashing techniques, and a tarp. Can take the tarp down before really bad weather or after use.

Anything just out of what could be cut down? Probably that's too difficult with anything obtainable from an overgrown tree covered garden.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,336
564
Vantaa, Finland
Usable shelters out of natural materials often cannot be made of typical even overgrown garden material. They might look nice but be only shelters when not raining. I think it is a good idea to teach realistic ways. By seaside one can often find plastic film that could be used for practical shelter building. Actually clear PE film makes quite nice see-through shelters at very low cost. Have seen the Sami use it in their summer kota.
 

Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
4,094
3,260
Mid Wales
You're looking at this with adult minds. Kids are happy with a 'den' made out of one ridge and just a load of sticks leaning against it. Let him make it, see if you can keep your overthinking adult hands off it :)

I was the same with my kids; everything had to be right - that just turns kids off. Now I'm a grandfather I understand; I sow the seed of an idea and let them do the creative bit.
 

Stew

Bushcrafter through and through
Nov 29, 2003
5,542
531
Aylesbury
stewartjlight-knives.com
You're looking at this with adult minds. Kids are happy with a 'den' made out of one ridge and just a load of sticks leaning against it. Let him make it, see if you can keep your overthinking adult hands off it :)

I was the same with my kids; everything had to be right - that just turns kids off. Now I'm a grandfather I understand; I sow the seed of an idea and let them do the creative bit.

Agreed! Guide them and help but don’t prescribe the details too heavily. Let their creativity show itself.
 

TLM

Native
Nov 16, 2019
1,336
564
Vantaa, Finland
One can teach with play but teaching the wrong things is not a good idea. Besides I had about the same situation twenty some years ago, question: does it keep water out helped a lot. It does not have to be perfect, just in the right direction ...
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 14, 2008
4,823
774
Lancashire
Thanks! Good points all round. We'll keep making those dens like on walks for fun or simply pitch a tarp for rain protection?

Btw I'm an adult but that doesn't stop me playing like a child does when needed? My other half often has to tell or son off then me!! It's good to play on their level at times? Right?
 
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Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
36,110
2,112
S. Lanarkshire
If you find yourself with long whippy branches, you might consider making 'igloo'/bender type set ups :)
They last surprisingly well, and it's a good way to teach about making structures.
Our ancestors made curved windbreak type shelters from just such branches. Often we find no structures, but arcs and rings of postholes. The post holes held sticks about thumb thick, so it doesn't need massive timbers.
If you shove the ends roughly even spaced into the ground, then any kind of brash can be woven into those uprights to firm up the rods at the base....and break the wind a bit too. Tarp over the top and show him how to tie a pebble into the corners to make buttons to tie down with a home made wooden tent peg.
Whittling too :) all good.
Have fun.....both of you :D

M
 
I've got a soon to be 8 year old son and we're going to be moving into a new house with a garden. It's a decent size, sloping with a few flattish seating positions and heavily wooded with trees and shrubs. I'm not sure what's exactly there but from memory there's likely to be a few things to cut down. It's possible that there's some decent sticks to make a den.

How would you make a child's den?

I'm thinking lavvu style with a tripod of forked sticks then others leant against them then a cheap tarp tied around them.

Or an A frame lean to with something over it.

Or something else.

It's probably academic because I might not get anything decent to use but if anyone has any ideas for limited resources and options if there's a few more good sticks I'd be grateful. Den making is one thing he likes doing on a walk. They're not very good as there's rarely decent branches where we make them. Usually it's branches against a tree or something else with anything like fallen leaves, loose moss or bracken as a basic cover. It's just a bit of fun for the selfie opportunities on a walk but at home I'd like something better for him. I just don't know about getting a proper play fort built as I don't know how much longer he'll find such things of interest.
From my experience Paul having 3 sons, you are better off getting them all their own camping gear & tools, & letting them set up their own camp. Any time they want to go camping, they can just get their gear together & go into the garden.

Regards, Keith.
 

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