Sixteen Reasons to Build a Fort in the Woods

413 total words    

2 minutes of reading

1. As an excuse (if you need one) to go outdoors.

2. As a shelter; you can say it’s from the wind, snow, or wildlife, but you admit to yourself it’s from other people—and monsters.

3. As an escape; from home, the city, the daily grind, civilization; a place where your imagination can roam freely in the wilderness.

4. Because sitting in it for any length of time will lower your blood pressure, calm your nerves, relieve your aching head.

5. Because making a fort is less about building a structure than it is about being in the woods, surrounded by nature.

6. To visit with the neighbors; the Silver Maple, Red Oak, Shag-Bark Hickory or the unidentifiable, decomposing log against which you prop your sticks; the Woodland Vole, Chipmunk, Squirrel, Opossum, rummaging through the leaves; if you’re very lucky and quite still maybe a Mink, Marten, or even a Coyote will slink stealthily by.

7. Because resting quietly inside allows you to listen more closely to the singing in the trees; the high-pitched buzz and chip of the Savannah Sparrow; the short, lyrical phrases of the Red-Eyed Vireo; the bubbly cheer of the rare and endangered Kirtland’s Warbler; as the light dims toward evening, the haunting cry of the Red-Tailed Hawk.

8. Because in the time it takes to build a fort you will have forgotten your mortgages, obligations to bosses, injuries you’ve received from—or given to—friends or lovers; or maybe you’ll have discovered the words needed to redress those injuries.

9. Because you remember being ten; or because you don’t remember.

Root River

10. To rekindle the sense of wonder and adventure that you may or may not remember; if you build it with sufficient reverence and awe, they will resurface.

11. As a place to read and reread Where the Wild Things Are with your children or your grandchildren.

12. If you are in fact a child, you won’t need a reason.

Southern Vermont

13. As a place of contemplation where you can reflect on the virtues of home, your city, daily life, civilization . . . and wilderness.

14. Because the structure you build isn’t really a fort, after all; it’s a time machine. It can transport you not only back to your own youthful past or to your imagined future, but also back to a time when no one needed an active imagination to experience a deep, dark forest wilderness.

15. To leave a token for the next child-at-heart who wanders through the woods.

16. As a message of hope, that the woods will remain woods.

West Bank of Milwaukee River

  • Eddee Daniel

    Eddee Daniel is a Milwaukee-based fine art photographer and freelance writer. He is the author of Urban Wilderness: Exploring a Metropolitan Watershed, a visual and narrative tribute to Milwaukee’s Menomonee River. Eddee writes two blogs: Urban Wilderness and Arts Without Borders. You can email him at

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