Climbing trees—fun, adventurous, and nature’s secret tool for learning risk and reward!
“Don’t fall.” “You’re too high, come down!” “You’re going to get hurt!”
Every parent has said it. Every child has heard it. There is so much more to climbing a tree than scaring parents to death! So what is it?
Activities for Kids
As a child, I loved climbing high enough in our big willow tree so that no one could see me. I loved the spot where I could sit and read, and no one knew I was there. I owned that tree. I was independent. I was myself!
Years later, when my 9-year-old granddaughter climbed so high in one of our aspens that I couldn’t even see her but could only hear her calling out to me, that was a different story! It scared me to death!
“Nature is a tool,” says Stephen Moss, a British naturalist, broadcaster, and author, “to get children to experience not just the wider world, but themselves.” When a child climbs a tree, Moss says, it’s about “learning how to take responsibility for yourself, and how—crucially—to measure risk for yourself. Falling out of a tree is a very good lesson in risk and reward.”
Outdoor experiences for adventurous kids—including climbing trees—teach through natural and logical consequences. In our Buddy Packs Survival Guide, we say that “mountains don’t care. Neither do rivers, lakes, oceans, cliffs, steep rocks, deserts, or anything else that could be dangerous. In other words—don’t be stupid!” This is a not-so-gentle reminder that outdoor fun for kids must include taking responsibility for themselves—which is much less painful than experiencing natural or logical consequences.
Buddy Packs encourages and supports parents who raise adventurous kids. It shows they understand, for one thing, the healthy relationship between a tree climber and a tree. And what does that relationship look like? Maybe cherry juice streaked on a cheek maybe scratches on an elbow or knee, maybe a quiet place to sit and hide, maybe even a clubhouse where world views are formed and plans laid. And not just maybe, but most likely, it will look like newly-won courage, confidence, and a fresh-air smile!
Put that same smile on your child’s face. Take them outside!
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