Kids Corner | Role-playing fun in the forest: dressing up and letting rip
Keeping kids occupied in London was a lot different to Denmark. For one thing, London has no forests to play in. And for another, there was no Danish language to contend with. So when I moved to Denmark decades ago and immediately joined the local scout group to make some friends, it wasn’t child’s play. Explaining to Danish kids what to do was almost impossible when I hardly understood the instructions myself.
But one fine day while the other leader was busy, I took some youngsters on a walk in a lovely shady forest next door and hit on a bright idea. Hide and seek. We all knew that. No need to explain the rules and tie my tongue in knots, though being scouts they’d have untied them in seconds. No, I just pretended to hide and we all knew where we were – me with my eyes shut counting to 20 and the kids all finding hiding places. Fine.
But I hadn’t figured on counting in Danish. Up to five, I was doing fine. Slowing down at around eleven, and by the time I’d got to 20, I opened my eyes and realised with a jolt that I’d been alone for a little longer than was comfortable. There were no kids in sight. Not a hide. Nor a hair. Were they safely tucked behind nearby trees? Or miles away still running as fast as their little legs would carry them?
Time to act FAST and luckily I had an ace up my sleeve – or in my pocket. A magical word. One of the few Danish words I knew, and I yelled it at the top of my lungs. ‘CHOKOLADE!!!!!!!!!’. It worked. Quick as a shot, all 12 kids appeared out of nowhere beside me and were soon tucking into the distinctly unchocolately sweets I had in my pocket for emergencies. Still, the kids weren’t arguing. Wasn’t much point. I wouldn’t have understood if they had.
The ground rules
Role-playing is a great way to enjoy the forest, and fortunately the ground rules are clear. You’ll find them translated along with how to make swords and other interesting stuff at www.helendyrbye.blogspot.com. Boys and girls, beginners and seasoned warriors are all very welcome, with parents watching from a safe distance or dropping off at 11am and collecting them four and a half hours later. Don’t worry if you don’t speak Danish as the natives are exceptionally friendly, experienced and speak English. Culture clashes are part of the fun among orcs and elves, after all. Take a packed lunch but you can borrow costumes and weapons free once you’ve paid your admittance – well worth it for hours of fun. Check www.juniorrollespil.dk for dates, contact details and blue links for photos of where to meet.
Alternate Sundays in Rude Skov, Birkerød or Fælledparken, Cph Ø; 11:00-15:30; 100kr; www.juniorrollespil.dk; may be cancelled due to bad weather
Fashion your own weapons
There are a number of places worth visiting to pick up ready-made costumes, weapons and the gear you’ll need to make your own latex swords etc. Try the Faraos Cigarer (www.faraos.dk) shops at Klosterstræde 22 (Cph K, 3332 2211) and Jernbanepladsen 63 (Kongens Lyngby, 3210 2323), which are open from 11:00-17:30. And don’t miss the Middle Ages Market (www.kmm.dk) in Valby from May 17-20 over the bank holiday weekend, which is open from 10:00-18:00 daily and costs 90kr to attend (60kr for kids). Pick up a half-price ticket for the market at the Faraos Cigarer shops if you’re fast. And finally, Silvan has duct tape, sleeping mats etc for making swords like the one in the photo.
Costumes in cases
Just in case you love costumes, but have a quieter disposition, the ‘Krop og beklædning’ exhibition has 200 authentic almost fairytale outfits dating back as far as the 1700s. Follow the story of industrialisation in the textile mill nearby. Check natmus.dk/en/brede-works for a travel planner, opening times and under aktiviteter, you’ll find special events. For example, this weekend from 12:00-15:00, the workers’ houses will be buzzing with life, refreshments and toys for toddlers as the clock is turned back to the 1950s.
Brede Værk, IC Modewegsvej, Kongens Lyngby; free adm; natmus.dk/en/brede-works