Dude, We Should Totally Build a Fort!


Have you ever built a fort you were so proud of, you wouldn't let ANYONE tear it down?

Human beings, like our various cousins in the animal kingdom, are born with a few innate skills that give us a survival advantage over any natural antagonists like predators and the elements. Language would be an example of this, but we have another innate skill rooted in shielding us from danger, and now evolved into the ultimate boredom-killer: Fort Building.

For some of us it can start with Bunk Beds when we're young - just hatchlings, my sis and I had a bitchin' set of bunk beds until we got our own bedrooms. Strangely it wasn't until those beds were separated that our fort-building adventures began - there was no need to fort it up before because Bunk Beds are adult-sanctioned forts.

Typical Nest - Unlike a fort, a nest focuses on comfort over security.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is a difference between a true Fort and the less complex Nest. A fort requires load bearing outer walls or at least a supported ceiling/roof surrounded by walls. The point of a fort is that it can be sealed from the inside to prevent entry/attack with a small window from which to mount a lookout or nerf-gun turret. Forts require stockpiling of boredom-defeating tools like comic books and food, in addition to some light source.

From the exterior it should be difficult to determine if a fort is occupied whereas by contrast a Nest is a partial structure designed for one to two persons with an open-air perimeter allowing in natural light. Nests are built in safe areas where defence is not the chief concern.

Forts are often bed based but superior designs are built on a foundation of couches with supporting outer-barriers and a retaining wall of seat cushions.

When sourcing out an appropriate fort-ready couch, avoid typical IKEA styles which, though fashionable, are usually built as a solid shape without removable seats or cushions.

The holy grail of this design is a classic mid-70's to 80's, 500lbs sofa with three seat cushions and detachable back-support pillows.

In a pinch, flap-hinged back cushions can be propped up like an awning as pictured below. Not the ideal design but good in an emergency fort situation such as a sleepover at a previously un-scouted friend's house:

Couch, side-view.

The history of fort building is a rich tapestry spanning back to our cave-dwelling days. Things were easier back then since nature was kind enough to dot the landscape with caves and underbrush so the early days of fort-construction, like today consisted of co-opting an existing structure as the basis of the shelter.

Ft. Knox is where they keep the all the chocolate coins.

Modern forts are popular on a grander scale and still used as great places to keep things that you don't want others to get their hands on - some people stash their star wars stuff, left over Halloween candy, or gold bars in forts. Fort-building experienced a contemporary shot in the arm thanks to the great publicity provided by the Occupy Movement. During the fall of 2011, at its peak fort-building was up nearly 300% in urban centres across North America.

Among tent-based structures, creative Occupiers erected unique structures ranging from Yurts to one group in Toronto who cleverly absorbed a gazebo into a fort assembled of various found objects like wooden pallets and other garbage.

So if you're looking for some indoor, or even outdoor funtime construction projects this summer, why not honour the rich tradition that flows in the blood of every child spurred on by boredom, and turn to your best friend, gal or sibling and say that incantation that will get their heart pumping and eyes wide with excitement: "Dude...we should totally build a fort!!"

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