The importance of den building at Running Deer

Den building is a childhood staple. If you ask any adult it is more than likely they have a fond childhood memory of building and playing in a den. A den can be an elaborately built tree house or a pile of cushions with a blanket over the top for a roof.

The complexity of the structure doesn’t matter they all share the same roll, they are a safe space.

The importance of den building

At Running Deer we encourage all our students to create dens amongst the woodland. This is usually a fun activity where the builder of the den can truly express themselves and create a space that is there’s.

Each den is different from student to student and as a case worker I’m often amazed how our young people can think outside the box when it comes to utilising the woodland resources.

While constructing the den the students learn a number of skills such as woodwork, knot tying and construction techniques.

Mankind has been creating structures as there safe space since the dawn of time, to create a structure to keep ourselves safe is engrained in our DNA. We only need look at our homes that we adorn with pictures and decoration that is an outward expression of ourselves.

To our young people there den is a space that they can go to when they feel the need to be on their own, for peace and quiet or just to be. It is about ownership and pride in ones creation. More than ever our young people have stresses put on them. This may be through exams, peer pressure or any other number of reasons. Children need a safe space where they can escape these stresses.

As a case worker and father I think it’s important to keep in mind that children need time to their selves as much as we do as adults and what seems a small worry or task to us may seem gigantic to the child.

We all need space and time to think and process information. Children are no different.


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