Samuel and his friend head out for an adventure. They are off to to build a DEN (gang hut) in the woods next to the waterfall where the wild things roam.
“Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart.” ― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods
“ Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” ― Dr. Seuss
Den making is part of the magic that occurs when children and nature mix. That natural magic is part of childhood. The lack of time spend outdoors is having an effect on children’s health and well-being. What better way to help reconnect our children with the natural world than building and constructing dens – providing ways to express their creativity, curiosity and wonder.
Remember your childhood? Did you build a den or gang hut in the woods or backyard?
“It’s that sense of ownership that’s important ownership of nature. How many children get that now? For this generation, nature is more of an abstraction than a physical reality. Kids today can tell you about the Amazon rainforest, but not about the last time they went into a wood alone. Nature is something to watch from a distance, something to consume. Something very profound has happened in children’s relationship to nature.” – Richard Louv “(Let them climb trees” Gaurdian. 2010. John Henley)
Time spent in the natural world has a significant impact on more than physical wellbeing.
“Kids can grow fine up without nature,” says Louv, “but with it, there are marked improvements in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning ability, creativity and mental, psychological and spiritual health. When you consider that in some US schools, up to 30% of boys are now on Ritalin … I’ve lost count of the number of teachers and youth leaders who have told me how different kids become when you get them out into nature. Trouble-makers become leaders. Nature is their Ritalin.” (Reference: The Guardian – 2010 by Jon Henley)
It is not always possible to get out into the wilds but we can provide oppportunities for all children to build their very own den in the backyard, the park or even the school grounds. Here is a FREE booklet I produced on HOW TO BUILD A DEN & FAIRY HOME to help raise awareness of the importance of Nature and Creativity in a Child’s life.
“Every child can remember laying his head in the grass, staring into the infinitesimal forest and seeing it grow populous with fairy armies” – Robert Louis Stevenson
Whethere you are a parent, educator, organization or individual, I promise you that you’ll have oodles of fun sharing this beautiful activitiy with the children in your lives.
And by the way, Den Building isn’t just for kids
Building a den is a powerful way of rekindling the child-whinin- egniting the imagination and rediscovering our deep rooted connection we all have with the natural world.
“ To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” – Simone Weil
When I was a child, my favourite place to hang out was high up in the Silver Birch in the back garden. Alone with my thoughts and dreams, my imagination soared. I also loved roaming wild and free on my bike or building dens in the woods with my friends and brothers, these were happy, sacred moments in my childhood. It was those magical experiences in nature that helped shape my life. And I still do all of these nature based activities today, which I believe keep me happy and healthy and creatively inspired.
Open your heart to those things that gave you joy as a child. Remember the preciousness of fantasy and imagination.
I invite you to help raise awareness of the importance of wild nature play – download your FREE copy of DEN BUILDING here.
May all children experience the magic of the natural world, with deep love and gratitude, peace Marghanita x
References: Richard Louv “(Let them climb trees” Gaurdian. 2010. John Henley)
Richard Louv’s books: – Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principal