Cast your mind back to your childhood. What jumps out? What experiences stick strong in your memory of those classic childhood moments? We can almost guarantee that there is at least one cubby or fort or secret base in that memory bank from a time where play occurred outdoors and community was developed through the building of structures. It’s quite possible that the strongest of these types of memories spark from camping trips!
A space for cubby play
At KIN Village our aim is to try to create opportunities for this lost art form – cubby construction – turning our sessions into a type of mini camping trip. The children are presented with a wide variety of materials, including hammocks, fabric, rope, tarps, pulleys, pegs and straps. Their imaginations run wild, as they select items to build some very impressive and creative cubbies. Often, children will then take to the carpentry station, building signs, tables, sofas and other creations to complement their cubbies.
The cubbies transform into forts, a home base from which to engage in the activities of the day. David Sobel, environmental educator, writes
“These places are called forts because they serve as retreats from the forces of the world. As the notion of the self starts to mature in middle childhood, children start to perceive how fragile their individuality is in face of the big world outside.”
Children will seek shelter with a book, or a small group of friends, lounging in the space they have created. It isn’t unusual to find a sleepy child, nestled into a hammock for a post-lunch nap!
Winter provides extra challenges
During the winter months children work diligently to build roofs that will stand sturdy against the rain. The excitement is palpable amongst the group as they all huddle together underneath their shelters. If there is a leak, everyone works together to fix it, propping up tarps and patching over holes. No one is left out, as there is always room for a new friend and an extra pair of hands in the battle against the rain.
Throughout this cubby building process, a child’s curiosity is being developed. The open-ended nature of the task allows for exploration, experimentation, play and creativity. The physical development of the child is enhanced, as they engage their fine motor skills, using tools or tying up tarps. Friendships are forged, as children develop their social skills and teamwork. Most importantly, children are given the space to just be. To exist within nature, a respite from their everyday life.
Cubbies are a crucial element of KIN Village school holiday programs, drop and leave sessions for 6 to 12-year-olds in various locations in Perth, Western Australia. Bookings can be made at this link.