Building a fort is a favorite childhood pastime. Forts come in all shapes and sizes, from living room blanket forts to backyard tree houses. As a little girl, I loved playing in forts. Who am I kidding, I still love them, and I’m not ashamed to say that I have built a blanket fort within the past month. Out of all of the forts I have built in my 22 years, my favorite was the Secret Hideout at my grandmother’s house.
I always loved spending time at my grandma’s house, especially in the summertime when we could play in the Secret Hideout. When the family would get together the five of us cousins would play out there for hours, building our fort in the woods in the back yard. We sectioned off different areas for different purposes, we even had a laundry room with a clothesline! We desperately tried to build a car out of an old trailer and some lawnmower motors. We never succeeded, but not for lack of effort. One of our favorite games to play was Boxcar Children, based on the book series by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Our lineup of cousins almost perfectly matched up to the book characters and we had so much fun pretending to live out in the woods alone and solve mysteries. I think that our Secret Hideout was a really important part of growing up as it fostered creativity and a close relationship between all of my cousins. One thing I don’t know is why we called it the Secret Hideout, as I’m pretty sure all of our parents knew exactly where we were the whole time.
Building forts is not only a fun activity, but it is actually an important part of a child’s development. I recently attended a Nature Explore workshop which explained the importance of visual-spatial skills and that building forts as a child really helps to strengthen these skills. As I fondly think back on my tree house, many blanket forts, and the Secret Hideout, I know that those experiences were an integral part of my childhood.
-Hillary Hanel
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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