Are you a Den Dreamer?
Introducing Going Wild, a brilliant organisation who are doing fantastic things to support and raise awareness to the importance of outdoor play for children. They believe that by giving opportunities for children to interact with the natural world, they will become mentally and physically healthier. They will also have the opportunity to learn important life skills and true values and will be more likely to understand their connection, influence and ultimately their responsibilities to the health and protection of our planet…and we couldn’t agree more! Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks of Going Wild have now kindly shared some stories and experiences of their children on one of our favourite outdoor activities…den building! Are you a Den Dreamer? Was there a single life-changing moment that opened your eyes to the wonders of nature? Or were you drawn in over endless days of freedom playing in wild places? Experiences such as crawling through long grass, playing hide-and-go-seek, perching in the swaying boughs of an ancient tree or playing with friends in your very own fort built of sticks and leaves draw children into nature and lead to an insatiable curiosity about the wild world. Why are Outdoor Dens special? Outdoor dens are universal play spaces; you can make them almost anywhere out of almost anything. They are all about escaping and using your imagination. They are places to be creative, to make up the rules, to explore the natural world and to create magical play spaces. Most people have a story to tell about their special childhood dens. Mine was an amazing hollowed out tree, which we named ‘The troll tree’. The entrance was too small for adults to squeeze into and there was a narrow escape exit out back, just in case the troll came home to surprise us. Likewise my children, given a bit of scrubby area at the back of our garden away from adult prying eyes, with permission to do pretty well what they liked in it, (within reason of course), happily put down their screens and spent many hours, day after day, playing and perfecting their den. They built it themselves using old bits of pallet in and around a leylandii hedge. They climbed up inside to reach a lookout at the top and made an upper story on the roof of the garden shed. They ate their supper in it, dug and planted the garden round it, and were constantly remodelling and filling it with precious keepsakes. It became a place to ‘chill’, or the venue for wild parties and sleepovers. They loved it because it was theirs, but most importantly they had time to explore, judge risks for themselves and learn from their mistakes.