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the driftwood fort



We live about 90 minutes from the Pacific Ocean. We usually go to Cannon Beach, but my father has a place in Manzanita that faces onto Nehalem Bay State Park. The park sits on a wide finger of land that juts out between the ocean and Nehalem Bay, so there are beaches on both sides. We visited him several days ago, and took his dog for a walk on the innermost bay beach, which is filled with huge driftwood logs and even whole felled trees. As we walked to the end of the beach, we approached an amazing driftwood fort. It was Kit’s first experience of the fort, and she ran ahead to go check it out.


Four girls were working on the fort and several other people were around it, checking it out or climbing around. Kit ran straight inside one of the lower rooms. While she played, one of the girls told me about how one of them started putting it together 10 years ago (when she was about Kit’s age!) during the week they spent at the campground. Over the years, the other girls had joined in and every year they came back with their families, spending their days building and expanding the fort. Each year they would leave it behind for others to enjoy until their next visit. They told me that most years, it is intact, but sometimes the tides or other visitors have dismantled part of it, so they build again.


Kit scaled the side of the fort to join the girls on top. They toured her around all of its rooms and showed her the secret ladders, stairs, and hideaways.


They let her into their tribe.


As I watched her climb and explore with them, learning how to place the logs sturdily against supports and imagining it as her house too, I saw the power of a long term project. The girls have been working on this project every year for nearly as long as they can remember. Their active work is limited to 1-2 weeks a year, but the project waits for them to come back and extend their work further.


This is the kind of life I want for my children. One that is still enough for them to return to the well and extend their work – where we are not trying something new all the time, but are revisiting where we’ve been and going deeper into the experiences in their lives. If the work they do gives joy to others, then so much the better.





  1. jess

    What a dream of a project. I wish for that kind of childhood for my kids too.

  2. Lori

    beautiful — and their willingness to keep rebuilding and sharing it is awesome, too.

  3. Chelsea

    What an incredible backstory to a magical place — I had no idea, and makes the visit you shared with us even more amazing. Xxoo +Chelsea

  4. katrina

    !! We’ve visited, contributed driftwood to, and played in/on this fort for years! We’ve spent time as often as possible in Manzanita, for the last 13 years! It’s an ongoing project for many of us! (saw yr. blog linked from Lori’s PBH class — k

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