Everyone needs a clubhouse! You can build your own backyard shelter, retreat, or clubhouse even if you have never built anything before. The clubhouse above was built in 1959 by three kids aged 8, 9 and 11, with no money or help from grownups! I know; I was the 11-year-old who took this picture. I'm sharing here what I have learned since then.
Readers of all ages are welcome to comment with their own ideas, pictures or stories.
To help you on your way, I've written a book titled "Keep Out! Build Your Own Backyard Clubhouse", which is available through bookstores or at Amazon.com . Many of the items I post here are also in the book.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Expeditions

After the clubhouse was trashed, Chris and I teamed up with the girls who threw the rocks that day. We'd actually known each other for a while so why not? It turned out that the four of us were good at organizing day-long expeditions. We packed lunches and a first aid kit, and were drawn to forbidden or not-for-children destinations, and there were plenty of them.

Our parents routinely told us to "go outside and play!" right after breakfast and were content if we remained outside until dark as long as we let them know where we were...and we took a few liberties on that one. For instance if we told them we were going on a hike to Tin Can Beach, we neglected to add that we would be taking a detour to the old World War II gun emplacements nearby.  Tin Can Beach, a mile away toward Huntington Beach, was two miles of open sand littered with old bottles and rusted cans from years of people camping and squatting there in tents or cardboard shacks, sometimes all year! Now it is known as Bolsa Chica State Beach - all cleaned up and mostly parking-lots. About a half mile inland was a fenced-off group of abandoned concrete bunkers, tunnels and gun turrets (no guns) that the Army installed to defend against Japanese warships. That was our real destination!

We walked the length of Sunset Beach, then wandered up to and easily under the barbed wire to find a natural wonderland of grassy fields, old eucalyptus trees and singing meadowlarks, and then the bunkers. We had heard they were very dark inside so we brought flashlights and made our way through the tunnels. All we found was grafitti and trash, but it was like another world - and creeeeeepy!

Satisfied, but still nervous, we made our way back to Tin Can Beach and ate our lunch!

We conquor the bunker!

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