Any time of year is always great for resurrecting some of the simple pleasures of yesteryear. Forests become wonderlands of fun, discovery and adventure. Here’s a round-up of some simple forest fun ideas to try.
A walk in the woods is made even better when you divide your family or group into two teams and send one group off to be tracked by the rest. Tracking is basically hide and seek in the open air. The big difference is that the hiders lay a simple trail for their pursuers to follow. The trail can be made from sticks or stones, or you can just draw an arrow in the leaves. When the leading group have found somewhere to hide they indicate that they are hiding nearby with a basic house shape made from sticks. Four sticks in a square with a triangle roof will suffice. The trackers then have to find the hiders, before both groups can swap roles and the game begins again.
It’s amazing how satisfying the simple game of Pooh sticks is. Players only need a bridge over a stream and a stick each to play. Simply throw all the sticks at the same time, then run to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick can be seen first. The game is first mentioned in The House at Pooh corner when Winnie-the-Pooh plays it with Christopher Robin, Eeyore and Tigger.
TOP TIP: The best strategy is to throw it in the middle where the current is strongest.
My children have always been keen tree climbers, as I was before them. I’m not ashamed to admit that I still am on occasions. On familiar walks my children always look forward to getting to particular trees which they know they can climb, and on unfamiliar walks they are constantly scanning for good tree-climbing trees.
I go blackberry picking with my children two or three times every year from late August through to September. For nearly two months these little treasures grow abundantly at reachable height just asking to be picked. I love the anticipation of arming my children with various empty ice-cream tubs and containers and setting off to forage. I love the slight challenge of it, negotiating annoying prickles and reaching up high to secure the best fruits. I even love the stained fingers and sticky chins which my children inevitably receive.
Making a passable den is surprisingly hard, but that’s part of the joy of it. It’s easier when there is a whole team of people gathering wood and leaves. The best system we’ve found is to lean sticks against either side of a low hanging tree branch. When you’ve got a basic tent shape then cover the structure with leaves or bracken. Then the inside and outside spaces can be decorated with pebble and large stones, small sticks or other available items. The fun then comes from playing house in your den.