Well I hope you all survived storm Doris, she certainly made things a bit more lively when out and about. My 3 year old looked like a drunk stumbling home as the wind baffeted her around and the pram hood became a sail sending us in all directions!
With Doris well on her way, she has given plenty of opportunity to play at surviving in the wild. The woodland is littered with branches and twigs that have fallen in the wind, perfect for making dens and lighting fires.
There are many ways to make a den but the most successful we have found is the ‘A’ frame. Find a branch still attached to a tree that is strong, fairly low and comes out almost level to the ground to be the roof strut. Alternatively find a big log that will fit into a fork in the tree. It is then simply a case of finding loads of logs and branches to make the walls. Start with larger ones to lean against your roof strut and then fill in the gaps with smaller branches and twigs. A good layer of dead leaves over the top should fill in the final gaps and make it toasty warm inside. This would obviously take some time to get to this point and few people would probably get there but it is good to have a challenge to aim for. We clearly didn’t get anywhere near this as you can see from the photo but we had a lot of fun getting to where we did. If you have got keen den building with you then you could extend this by making beds, tables, chairs, gardens, a trap to catch dinner (please make sure they are not set when you leave!), I’ve lead groups where children have even had ‘TVs’ in their dens so be imaginative and see how luxurious a den you can make.
If you are in true survival mode then you will need a fire. Unless you want to go right back to basics and rub sticks together it would pay to be a bit prepared and take a few keys items with you such as some matches and a bit of dry kindling and bottles of water for safety and putting out the fire.
Make sure you clear a space of all leaf litter and debris so you are left with bare soil to lay your fire. Make sure you have collected plenty of wood, fires can burn through it quickly and start to lay your fire. Start with tiny twigs, and dry substances such as moss or lichen (or newspaper!), place them in a heap in the middle. Build a teepee of small twigs over this and then light it, make sure it is going properly before adding larger twigs or branches. You may need to blow on it or fan it to help it on its way. Once it is going, you can start to cook and eat your ‘survival foods’, you know….marshmallows and sausages, or bread dough on a stick.
Safety is key to fires so please make sure it is supervised at all times and there is water to hand if needed but do let the children get involved, it is how they learn fire safety and build a healthy respect for it.
When you have finished ‘surviving’ your fire needs to be completely put out and the area you created recovered, your aim is to make it look as if you had never been there. Dens can be left to play in or add too on another day.