It’s a staple of childhood – building a den in the bushes during summer, or an impenetrable sofa fort out of cushions over a long rainy weekend. It’s as nostalgic as smashing conkers or exploring rock pools. To tap into those memories and ensure the joy of youthful adventure is never forgotten, Center Parcs has created a new activity for intrepid, creative families – Den Building and Decorating.
Families pay for a pitch and are introduced to their Den Master, who imparts expert tips and tricks before it’s over to you to forage together for the materials to build your own family den. Work together to find the strongest branches, the thickest thicket and the sturdiest plan. Once it’s upbuilt, you can decorate your den with feathers, twigs and fir cones – but make sure it’s durable because the big test is still to come.
Passing the test
Once the whole family can fit inside, your Den Master will test the quality of your creation by ‘raining’ water over the top. Only the best adventurer families will stay dry!
Huddle together in your newly built – and hopefully water-tight – den for traditional family games and stories with your Den Master, which will encourage little ones to interact with and explore their natural surroundings.
Den Building and Decorating was created to offer an activity for Center Parcs families to take part in together. But it was also created in part by a Center Parcs family.
Elveden Forest was the first Village to offer the new activity, and was to be implemented by It was developed by Head of General Activities, Ben Nobes. When Ben saw the specifications for the Den site’s wooden props, he knew just the person for the job – his own dad.
Ian Nobes looked at the plans Ben showed him and set about hand carving beautiful bespoke samples. The original pieces he made were for use at Elveden Forest, but were such a hit with everyone who saw them that Ian was commissioned to make more for every Village, and has been whittling away in his workshop to do just that.
Ian says: “For each Village I’ve created two wooden worktables, six storage chests, a Den Master’s chair, signs and wooden games like such as hoopla and tic tac toe. It feels quite good knowing that it’s my work and it’s all across the country.”
Embracing the creativity
Thanks in part to Ian’s beautiful creations, Den Building and Decorating has proven extremely popular, offering Center Parcs guests families a chance to work together, learn new skills and enjoy a magical adventure.
Group Leisure Manager Sue Goddard, says: “At Center Parcs, we have always embraced the creativity and energy of children in our activities. Now we are turning them into inspirational adventures involving parents too. Den Building and Decorating appeals to the nostalgic memories of adults making grass trumpets and foraging in the forest, and also appeals to the adventurous side of children. It’s been a real hit so we’re pleased we’ve really captured the essence of what family are looking for.”
Den Building and Decorating is currently available at Elveden Forest, Sherwood Forest and Longleat Forest, and will be rolled out to Whinfell Forest and Woburn Forest in February later in the year. It is a 90-minute long adventure for a family or group of up to six people, with a minimum age of three years old.