There are so many of my activities with the children that vary from week to week, but a few are steeped in tradition and fixed to certain weeks of the year. The Nature raft Race is one such event created years ago with The Boy and Me who has stayed with us on the same summer week for years. Thanks to quite a bit of rain this summer and the river running higher than usual I suspected that, apart from my own children, we wouldn’t have too many in the river at the end this year. However I had another surprise up my sleeve to make the afternoon fun and memorable for everyone.
What is a Nature Raft Race?
The idea is to build a mini raft entirely from nature and then have a race from one bridge to the next. It is rather like a giant game of pooh sticks but with plenty of care and competition in the raft building process too.
Our first job once the rules were clear and my example raft shown, was to go off on a nature hunt to gather the resources. Family, friendship and individual teams all ventured off in search of the perfect materials.
Building nature rafts
There was a buzz of excitement as the teams set to work designing, building and creating. Welding joints using just grass and bendy branches isn’t easy, but patients paid off and each team had their own unique raft coming together.
Raft business can be hungry work so I had a fresh batch of marshmallow cakes on hand for everyone to dip into. This certainly spurred on little helpers.
Finished family team nature raft
My secret surprise
Finally each team added their decorative and technical final touches while Amber and I, as judges, filled out certificates. We had a little awards ceremony with everything from most creative raft to best teamwork covered and the children were thrilled with their certificates.
Ready to Race
Carefully the teams made their way to the starting line stopping for a quick photo before taking their positions on the bridge.
Like pros the race began with no false start and no cheating. Instantly excitement flooded the air as the children raced down the river bank to see who would be the winner.
All credit goes to Jed and Clio, two of my teens who waded down the river after the rafts to ensure none were caught on rocks and lost to the river fairies!
Watching the first rafts over the winning line is like standing on the finishing line at the races. There was much shouting and cheering.
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