build a fort!
Friday, June 12, 2009 at 09:09AM
Lori in outdoorsy, things to do, woods

tree root cave — photo credit: jump4joy, all rights reserved

One fall when I was 9 or 10, my best friend and I built a fort using a couple of leftover pieces of wire fencing we found behind the shed — we formed the walls and ceiling, then covered the entire thing with fallen leaves and christened it Fort Leafy.

It had a box for keeping treasures and oreos and we used it for weeks and weeks before the snow finally came.

It doesn’t take much to make a fort in your backyard — some sticks, a tarp, or whatever you have lying around that no one needs at the moment. The kids at my school made a fort by laboriously carving away a little cave in a mound of dirt (big enough for two small children to squeeze mostly into) then building out with sticks and leaves. The only completely necessary supply is imagination.

Do you have a fort? E-mail us and we will share it here!

our fort in the woods behind the barn

The smallest boys can build some of the simple shelters and the older boys can build the more difficult ones. The reader may, if he likes, begin with the first of the book, build his way through it, and graduate by building the log houses; in doing this he will be closely following the history of the human race, because ever since our arboreal ancestors with prehensile toes scampered among the branches of the pre-glacial forests and built nest-like shelters in the trees, men have made themselves shacks for a temporary refuge. — Dan Beard, Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties

boys in their “fort” — photo credit: myPlayground, all rights reserved

woods fort with windows! photo credit: amirabilis, all rights reserved

driftwood fort on the beach —photo credit: sunnyshine12, all rights reserved

There are several ways of building a temporary camp from material that is always to be found in the woods. Whether these improvised shelters are intended to last until a permanent camp is built or only as a camp on a short excursion, a great deal of fun can be had in their construction. — The Boy Mechanic: 200 Classic Things to Build

fort pan-am —photo credit: nicodemas, all rights reserved

palm frond fort — photo credit: bryan robison, all rights reserved

By taking advantage of a rock, a fallen or uprooted tree, the work of building a hut is ofttimes materially lessened. — The American Boy’s Handy Book

empty lot fort —photo credit: rob rypma, all rights reserved

backyard woods fort — photo credit: my3sons_nh, all rights reserved

The next best thing to really living in the woods is talking over such an experience. — Dan Beard, The American Boy’s Handy Book

awesome beach fort —photo credit: brilliam, all rights reserved

It was our turn now, and we pelted their broken ranks with snow until they looked like animated snowmen. Another shout, and we looked around to find our leader down and the hands of one of the besieging party almost upon our flag. It was the work of a second to pitch the intruder upon his back outside the fort.

Then came the tug of war. A rush was made to capture our standard, several of our boys were pulled out of the fort and taken prisoners, and the capture of the fort seemed inevitable. Again and again a number of the enemy, among whom was their color-bearer, gained the top of our breastworks, and again and again were they tumbled off amid a shower of snowballs that forced them to retire to gain breath and clear their eyes from the snow.

Once their lieutenant, with the red-bordered battle-flag, had actually succeeded in reaching the mound upon which stood our colors, when a combined attack that nearly resulted in his being made prisoner drove him from the fort to gather strength for another rush. “Daddy” was now a prisoner, and the recaptured flag again floated over the enemy’s camp, when the school-bell called us, fresh and glowing with exercise and healthful excitement, to our lessons. — The American Boy’s Handy Book

More inspiration:

How to Build Treehouses, Huts, and Forts

The Book of Camp-Lore and Woodcraft

The American Boy’s Handy Book

The Boy Mechanic: 200 Classic Things to Build

The Field and Forest Handy Book

The Outdoor Handy Book


Article originally appeared on In Heywood’s Meadow (
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