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How to Build a Fantastic Sandcastle

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A popular annual event at our campground is our "Sandcastle Building" contest. Campers, young and old look forward to a day at the beach participating in this enjoyable event. Over the years we have seen it all when it comes to sandcastle design and strategy. Everything from creative castles to unrecognizable creatures have decorated our shore. We have had a lot of opportunities to watch what works, and what challenges face the "SandCastle" creator.

So even though we are stuck in the cold of winter we thought it would be a good idea to give our campers and others hitting the beach this summer, a head start on preparing for their summer "Sandcastle" creation. Why not spend some winter time hours planning some summertime fun.

Tips For Building a Sandcastle

What will you build? - Prepare a list of 3-4 sandcastle ideas that you may want to try making the next time you go to the beach. Figuring out what to build can often be the biggest challenge. Choose something that would be fun to create and decide how much of a challenge you want.

Where on the beach should you build it? - Some recommend that you stay close to 15 - 20ft. from the water's edge. If you move to far up the beach the sand will be coarse and difficult to work with. Plus you will have farther to haul those pails of water. If you build too close to the water's edge your structure may just float away.

What tools do you need to build it? - Of course you will remember the shovel and pail but you should also bring some other objects from home to help carve and decorate with. Spatulas, drinking straws, paper cups, plastic eating utensils, small plastic containers, ice cream scoop, soft bristled paint brush, measuring spoons, plastic funnels or a pastry brush. The list could go on and on. Don't forget to bring a plastic spray bottle to help keep the sand damp.

How do I Start? - After you have found the perfect location on the beach you start by building a foundation for your structure. This is a step that many forget but without a strong base all your creative work may collapse even before you get it finished. Smooth out where your structure will be built and cover with a layer of water then pack down and repeat a few times until you determine you have a strong base.

What do I do Next? - Now you start creating. Mix the sand you will be using with water (one part water to one part sand) to get a good consistency. Drain excess water and start to form your sand sculpture. If the sand is too wet your structure may slide away so continue to work with it until it sets well. If you are building a typical "sandcastle" then it is time to fill the pails or molds you brought. If you have decided on a different sand sculpture you can begin to mold the design with your hands. The bigger the sand pile you have the easier it will be to carve and design. Always choose to prepare more sand then you think you need.

How will it stand? - Once you begin to build and shape your sand and water mixture you must remember to "Pack, Pound & Pummel". You must do this repeatedly during the building stage. Each time you add more of the sand mixture to your design, repeat the packing and pounding. This process is to ensure that the air is removed. Good packing will reduce the chance that sections of your structure slide or collapse.

What Next? - Have a little fun carving and decorating. Use the extra tools you brought along to add some different designs. The plastic funnels are great to top your castle towers. The melon baller will help to create small openings or windows. The paint or pastry brush can help to smooth out areas and add a finished look. Don't forget to spray with water!

Maybe on your next visit to the discount store you could start to build a "SandCastle" kit. Buy a couple of pails, and begin to fill them with some of the items we discussed above. Once summer rolls around you'll have everything you need to be a sand castle expert. These wonderful sand sculptures may give you some ideas for your first project. "Amazing Sandcastles"

We hope that we gave you some new ideas for your next sand sculpting projects. If not, we hope that we gave you a brief distraction from the winter weather and a reason to think about sunnier days ahead.

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