If you are enthusiastic about spending more time outside in the garden or simply trying to make your children enjoy new outdoor games, then a teepee might suit your needs. Inspired by Native American tents, teepees are still used by modern days people as a going back-to-nature experience. On the other hand, they have a great impact on a child development. Kids often see a teepee as an imagination land, where they can experience pretend games, which engages their creativity and social skills. Thus, it should be big enough for two or more kids to fit in together and with enough spare room for whatever they drag along with them.
The size of a teepee depends on the number of poles used for making its frame and it is measured from front-to-back at ground level. If the tents made by the Native Americans were able to hold in up to 30 people, teepees that you can find today are obviously smaller. But, when making your own teepee at home, you should decide how large it will be and the number of poles that you are going to use according to the size and the structural integrity. Three poles are the minimum, while six make a more stable tent.
The number of poles used also defines the teepee’s shape. It can go from a triangle to a pentagon shape. Actually, you will need to bind a couple of sticks together to make the base of the teepee and then to wrap them tightly around with a rubber band leaving at least 3 inches at the top.
Regarding the right length of a pole, some prefer long poles that extends above the binding point and make a teepee looks like a double cone, while others prefer it below that point. A typical teepee of a Native American family is a conical tent with multiple poles from 12 to 25 feet long. The poles were actually cut to measure about six feet more than the radius of the cover.
The most important dimension on a pole is its diameter at the binding point. Generally, it is preferred to use poles as slender as possible, but if they bend under the weight of the cover, then it is too slender.
For a kids teepee, a manufacturer shouldn’t use wooden poles, because they might splinter, break or snap, while the ones made from metal may rust. Also, wooden or metal poles are heavy and while your child is crawling in and out, these could fall on his head. I would recommend using poles made from plastic, like PVC, because they are light and soft. But if safety it’s not an issue to you, then willow wood works great for a teepee. Usually, trees growing near a swamp, pond or river have a flexible wood. On the other hand, you can get poles for your teepee from pine trees after a process of cutting, hauling and peeling. Pine wood is light and durable. Also, try to use a dry wood for it is easier to handle than a green one.
If the whole process of making your own poles exceeds you, then looking to buy poles from manufacturers wouldn’t be such a bad idea. They usually come in three grades: standard, premium and economy. The first ones are completely peeled and ready to use. The second ones are sanded and protected with a coat of oil. Economy poles have marks from debarking equipments, but despite their appearance, they are ready for use.
In order to give poles a beautiful color and to prevent them from turning grey from exposure to the weather, use commercial wood preservatives.