St. Mary's Institution: The Bamboo Forest

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Located behind Caroline Hall, across Mattapany Road, far to the right of all the practice fields, and directly off of the the access road that takes the groundskeepers to the fields sits a forest of tangled bamboo shoots rising, it seems, for eternity. As you stumble and force your way through the tangled web of underbrush, mud, hay, and cutting bamboo you will come across The Fort, looming like the aged colossus it embodies.

Made of shipping planks and reinforced with railroad ties, The Fort’s walls rise eight feet high and contain a clearing with multi-leveled tree-huts, a fire pit, a semi-circle of aged benches, a work table, unused wood, a rope swing and, of course, lots of bamboo. The treehouses themselves are two separate entities. One is a high rise loft fort (loosely defined, and constructed) that can easily hold five people about eight feet above the ground and has space underneath for six to gather near the fire pit.

Across from the fire pit sits the second treehouse-hut combination. The second fort consists of two creaking platforms of ancient shipping pallets that sway and bend as the wind rustles the leaves high up in the trees. These planks are “secured” to the large magnolia tree and the pseudo-basement is walled off by planks and plywood; the second fort seems more homely and offers space to sit, stand, or lie down if you so choose.

These forts, which have been here for as far back as anyone I know can remember offers a fun place to hangout with friends and an escape from the hustle and bustle of “on-campus” life. A word to the wise, however, be cautious of what you bring to the fort. Public Safety has a keen eye for students heading in the general direction of the fort and are well known for busting first-years who think they are the pioneers to discover the “Atlantis” that is our tree fort.

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