> The Beesley Buzz: Den building - a summer hideout!

Den building - a summer hideout!

A natural hideout - J builds his den in the woods
This months Tots100 Center Parcs Challenge is all about getting outdoors, embracing the forest and building a summer hideout. No matter how young or old you are, everyone loves a den.

In the past we have made dens using all sorts of things. In fact we rarely throw anything out in case it comes in handy for our next den project. We have kept our old dining table, our old sofa cushions and lots of old sheets - put together they make the perfect den!

We have made cosy dens for reading in, camping dens for playing camping out with, secret hideaway dens for hiding out in, bear cave dens packed full of cuddly toy bears and themed dens like making a doctor who themed den out of a huge cardboard box!

But this time, Daddy and J wanted to get outdoors and have a chance to have some bonding time, so they went den building in some local woods which are managed by a local countryside partnership.

Before we start, it is worth mentioning that it is VERY important to get permission if you are going to be building dens on someone else's land. This was done as part of an organised activity to show how the countryside partnership help manage and care for the woods.

Here's how they got on, along with some top tips:

Firstly find a suitable 'structure' to lean against like a strong tree. Then find some big sticks to lean up against it to form a shelter.

Learn the difference between ferns and bracken. Ferns grow as if they are single leaf (with fronds) straight out of the ground, whereas bracken grows on a stalk with further stalks with fern-like fronds on. Most woodland management teams will be only too pleased for you to pull up bracken as it is considered invasive to the woods. But do check first!

Wearing gloves, pull up bracken and use it to 'rainproof'' your den by placing in layers starting at the bottom. Layer it up whilst overlapping, like you would with roof tiles, until you reach the top. Another point to be aware of is that ticks like to live amongst bracken so avoid tick season or cover up and use gloves (If in any doubt, you can still make a perfectly fabulous den without the bracken!)

J with his completed den
And finally, always dismantle your den before leaving as you don't want anyone else playing with it in future when it could become unsafe over time.

learning to make sparks using flints

Yum - marshmallows!
As part of their adventure, Daddy and J were lucky enough to learn how to light a fire using flints (and then got to toast marshmallows!).

PLEASE REMEMBER: Fires are dangerous and NOT PERMITTED in many places. This was done as part of a properly organised activity with the landowners consent.

If you are making a den in your backgarden or a place where fires are not permitted, here is a top tip to help kids still have the fun of a 'camp fire'. Gather together some sticks and arrange them over a little battery operated torch. Lots of fun - but still totally safe.

This is our entry into the Center Parcs June Challenge: Summer Hideout!

Follow these links to our previous Center Parcs family challenges if you want to see what other fun challenges we have been taking part in:
Perfect Picnics - May 2013
Let's Get Growing - April 2013
Chocolate Challenge - March 2013
Perfect Pancakes - February 2013
Home Spa - January 2013
The Perfect Elf - December 2012
Waterslide Challenge - November 2012


  1. wow, that looked real fun and the den was fantastic. Really good tips too, a lot I've not heard of before. Good luck with the competition, you deserve a win after submitting such great entries every month x

    1. thanks Anne, that is really kind of you to say that. We just really enjoy taking part in the challenges each month. It gives us all some great bonding time as a family. xxx

  2. I love toasting marshmallows - always tend to set fire to them tho. Great den building x

    1. us too. I once burnt my hand badly with marshmallows when I was little - but it still hasn't put me off! x


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