What is the first thing you think about when asked "how were your vacations as a kid?" You probably played "runaway" with the waves. Or tossed a beach ball around. Or probably built castles in the sand.
Making castles and sculptures in the sand is probably the thing to do when you go to the beach. You probably remember working really hard with your shovel and bucket to build a fantastic castle or an indestructible fort. Some would also remember that they worked on a "child masterpiece" or maybe something that basically "looked like a mountain."
This is a great family activity and is pretty much free, seeing as that you can use any sort of tool available. We definitely recommend getting a basic sand castle building set that kids will surely love. A bucket, a shovel and even a pencil are enough to keep a kid entertained for hours on end. What better way to enjoy the sun and sand together with the family?
If you're lucky, there are also sand sculpture contests at the beach. These are not mere amateurs but tried and true professionals. Even though it is difficult to believe, there are dozens of artists who specialize in all sorts of beautiful sand sculptures, surprising children and adults alike with their skill, traveling all over the world to attend international contests.
On the boardwalk of Puerto Vallarta, it is common to see sculptors working from memory and imagination with the supplies that the sea gives them. They commit themselves to creating incredible sculptures of animals, religious scenes or some other famously historic sculpture, doing this every single day. These fleeting works of art are swallowed up by the sea at nightfall and the artists wait till the dawn of the next morning to get to work all over again.
This also teaches children that you can achieve things with dedication and a lot of imagination. You might ask yourself how can making beautiful sculptures make kids feel proud? Many of us only learned the bucket technique. Just fill a container with sand, flip it over and make holes for the windows and doors. Depending on how moist the sand is, the "towers" can topple if they are too dry. But there are some tricks you can do to help keep them standing.
One tip is to make a large mound of sand and then just eliminate the excess, just like actual sculpture artists with marble blocks. Another suggestion is to make the mound sufficiently moist so that gravity holds and makes the sand more compact through the water that filters down, making the structure much more resistant. Make sure the castle is close to the sea but not close enough so that the waves sweep it away. That way, you'll have all the water you need.
The best time to start building a castle is early in the morning so that kids can have all the time in the world before high tides roll in the late afternoon. It is said that the best sand can be found right below the first layer of sand, which is usually darker, more moist and compact. Another way is to get sand that looks like mud and letting it drip, forming stalagmites that you can use as towers.
Now you have all you need to know to be the king or queen of the sand castle. If you are planning to take your kids to the sea during the summer, don't pass up the opportunity to be a part of these creatively fun games. Take along a picture of the castle you're going to make and a camera and remember this family outing for a long time!
Vacations in the Sand: Castles, Sculptures and More
- Ana Gabriela López Espinosa