The Fortress of Solitude: A Look at Kids and Their Forts (PHOTOS)Serge Bielanko
Remember how awesome we were inside of the blankets we strung over the coffee table and stretched out to make a ramshackle by tucking the frayed corners into the cushions of the couch? (Look I found a quarter! And some potato chips!)
Back when we were fort builders, remember how we would race around the house collecting every single pillow or pillow-ish thing we could get our grubby mitts on so we could drag them back into our fort?
Bed pillows, throw pillows, towels, empty pillowcases, we took them off of our bed and off of mom and dad’s bed, off of the towel rack in the bathroom with reckless abandon.
We commandeered snacks from the kitchen, too: bananas, cans of tuna, Pop-Tarts…a jar of mayo. As fort builders, we weren’t all that fussy really, we mostly just took whatever we could reach.
Finally, we rounded up the “supplies,” snagging rolls of toilet paper, flashlights, maps, old copies of Woman’s Day or Reader’s Digest. Randomness was the order of the day. And no, we didn’t ask permission to stock the fort: this was the real deal … dining room wilderness survival.
Fort builders don’t need permission.
In considering the fine art of fort life, perhaps the coolest thing of all though is the fact that kids are still doing it today. They’re still out there, lightbulbs going off above their bored winter heads, still building forts despite all of the cyber games and computer crap vying for their souls.
See, putting up forts is a timeless tradition. Your parents made forts, I can guarantee it. And so did their parents, too, I’ll bet.
Hell, I wouldn’t be the least surprised to peer into some blanket fort some afternoon and spot you down there in the hidden pillows, snarfing away on a fruit roll-up in the flashlight’s glow.
And that’s a good thing, if you ask me.
Fort Life 1 of 14In the cold days of winter when kids need to escape the grind of cartoons and toys, they turn to fort building.
Nothing Fancy 2 of 14When we are young, our imaginations are so boundless that even a simple bed sheet or a pillow isn't overlooked when it comes to fortifying our escape from the real world. We don't need fancy building stuff.
Kings, Queens, & Chiefs 3 of 14Down inside their forts, kids are their own bosses. And if a parent should happen to be so lucky to be invited inside, they'd better make sure they obey the laws of the fort!
Beautiful Improv 4 of 14One of the great things about forts and fort builders is how spontaneous the whole experience can be. Sure, there might be a ton of planning involved and that's great. But sometimes the best hideaways are the simplest, huh?
Indepence 5 of 14For a lot of kids, time spent in their fort is a first real taste of what it's like to be independent and free. Remember what an awesome feeling that was?
The Life of a Fort 6 of 14Most forts usually last a weekend at best, which helps to make them more special, I think. Because while they are up, kids tend to want to return to them over and over again, at least until it's bedtime.
Looking Out 7 of 14There is something inherently peaceful and calming about looking out at the world from inside your own fort.
Things To Do 8 of 14Of course, most kids aren't all that into 'downtime' really, and who can blame 'em? After all, they're built for energy and action, for experimenting and investigating...and playing. And what better place to get busy with some big business than down in the confines of a pretty solid clubhouse made of blankets.
A Little Help 9 of 14Fort building isn't always the easiest thing in the land for small hands, so it helps when there's an eager mom or dad around to help out. Of course, when the thing is up and it's time to crawl inside, we need to make ourselves scarce if we aren't invited to join the club.
The Fortress of Solitude 10 of 14When a couple kids get together inside a fort, everything else just kind of melts away. Here, my son Henry and daughter Violet tune out the world in this awesome fort that their mom helped them make. I tried to go in there, but I was immediately ejected. Oh well.
After Hours 11 of 14Obviously though, if a fort is just too awesome to resist, there is never any harm in moms and dads checking-in for a while after the true proprietors are tucked in to their own beds. What they don't know won't hurt 'em, right?!
Days To Come 12 of 14Building forts indoors during the long cold winter months provides all kinds of relief for kids and parents alike. But it's also really good training for the ultimate in Fort Life...building the OUTDOOR FORT!!! And it won't be too long now.
Who Knows? 13 of 14No one can be certain where their fort building skills might take them someday. They might be the next great architects of the world, right? They may design the next Empire State Building or the next Eiffel Tower. Or, they might just end up helping their own kids someday, erecting the greatest backyard fort ever built.
Fort Masters 14 of 14In the end, the coolest thing about forts is that they are our own invention, custom built to the whims of our souls, no matter how old we are. And that's a beautiful thing. So good luck out there, fellow Fort Masters...
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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