Stability provides comfort. Dealing with feelings of instability can provide for personal growth. Come along as we look at the tree climbing experience and the ways we transfer our feelings of security and stability from rope to branch.
A discussion of Stability and Instability - how to enjoy your climb even more.
Feeling stressed? Looking to escape? Need a break from the demands for your time?
It sounds like you could benefit from a change in altitude.
This past winter, Jen and I spent time on a tiny island off the coast of southern Florida. The 10-acre island had a handful of cottages, a walking trail, a restaurant, and a few chairs down by the water. No television, spotty cell service, and limited Wi-Fi access.
We rented a skiff one day to get to a neighboring island to enjoy a desolate beach. We saw more dolphins, sharks and stingrays than people that day.
The week gave us time to talk, sit, read, write, nap, and enjoy our time together. It was quiet. We were relaxed.
Trips like these can be a great way to decompress and recharge. They are a small part of the life component in the “work-life balance.”
Whether it is during your return flight, the moment you reclaim your suitcase or walk through your front door, there is probably a specific moment where your mind jumps back into your responsibilities and your To Do list. Vacation is over.
Even if that line for you is blurred more than the picture I describe, and I hope it is, there comes a time when you find yourself back in your daily and weekly routine. It is a feeling similar to wading across a stream.
You start by heading into the water, eventually finding yourself in the current. You are focused on heading in the direction you’ve set your sights on, yet not fully aware of the gradual increase in energy you are expending to keep your footing and head above water. At times, the current may pull you off course slightly. Your drive gets you to the other side, but you are exhausted.
Wouldn’t it be nice to take a break when the current of life seems to be unrelenting? Fast-forward to the next vacation?
Thankfully the current fluctuates. Some days are easier and more productive, others are more challenging. For you, it may seem like months before the current lets up. It might not let up until summer break. Or perhaps the slow-season in your industry, as in mine, doesn’t come until winter.
Thankfully, not even 15 feet above the ground, lies the same peaceful escape.
Days Like These
I do not like to wish my life away. It will pass by soon enough.
That’s why I love having the ability to change my altitude when stress seems to be building. It only takes an hour or two out of my day to climb to a different level, and the benefits are often as great as a week in the tropics.
Up there, your mind will find peace. It’s as if the worries of ground life are restrained by gravity. As your attention turns towards the mechanics of climbing the rope, your mind is left with little room for outside worries. All of that weight falls from your shoulders relatively quickly.
By the time I reach my resting branch, it’s as if I flew back to the island.
The sounds of the palm fronds in the breeze and ocean waves lapping against the mangroves are replaced with the rustle of the oak leaves unfurling ahead of the upcoming growing season. An assortment of birds singing and squirrels chirping help me connect to the present moment.
My senses are consumed with an appreciation for the unique perspective from where I sit. The tree holds and protects me from the chaos below.
Time is of no concern when you spend time in a tree. The breeze, movement of the leaves, and connection with Nature’s energy will consume you.
The change in altitude brings with it a change in attitude.
This all happens without intentional thought. You enter tree-time as if entering a 3-dimensional field of energy. You can climb trees for something to DO, but most of us discover it is actually a place to BE.
When you return to the ground and get your land legs back, you begin to realize your worries and demands are waiting patiently. One by one, you pick them up and head back into your daily routine.
Nature is in no rush. The trees carry on about their business. They will await your return.
Most of our Rec Climbs are hosted by municipal recreation departments. More times than not, you will find these climbs listed in the youth section of their activity guides, which may give the impression that tree climbing is for children.
In reality, tree climbing is enjoyed by people of all ages. Tree climbing is for people who want to stay young at heart and of healthy mind.
Come out and enjoy the benefits of a change in altitude.
One of the more common fears people face is the fear of heights, or fear of falling. Come along with me as we take a look at ways tree climbing allows you to challenge yourself and overcome these fears.
Click below to see how to take steps to lessen your fears.
Safety is a top priority when climbing trees. Here's an introduction to some of the safety measures we take in our climbs, including the equipment, certain parts of the climbing process (like the "safety knot"), the oversight of skilled facilitators, and even the tree itself. Check out the video and see what I mean...
At Treetop Explorer, we love seeing the excitement people feel when they first learn to climb tall trees with rope and saddle. Maybe you saw that same excitement in your son or daughter when you came to one of our climbing events. Even if you did not climb with them, did you feel a sense of adventure and excitement just thinking about climbing into large trees?
There are many ways to experience tree climbing. Sometimes I am simply looking to have a little fun and play with my feet off the ground. Other times I work on developing my skills and technique. When I have the opportunity to head out with friends, I enjoy the freedom of heading off in search of a new adventure together. A new tree to explore.
Given the variety of possible experiences, our climb offerings provide different opportunities with the intent of making these experiences available to you.
Our Rec Climbs are perfect for people interested in trying out tree climbing, with plenty of opportunities through the year to climb as often as your schedule permits if you enjoy it as an exciting way to get outside. Our Climbing Club is geared towards those who are looking to dive a little deeper into climbing as a hobby, developing your climbing abilities and learning about trees. Our Learn-to-Climb classes prepare you head off on your own to enjoy this unique and rapidly growing recreational activity and corresponding career opportunities.
Climbing For Fun
Our Rec Climbs enable you to climb as often as you’d like, leaving the logistics, permits, equipment and technical aspects to us. It’s the way most people are introduced to tree climbing and, in fact, doing a rec climb is a pre-requisite for joining our climbing club..
In this setting, it’s all about having fun and getting that rush of excitement, without worrying about the details. Our rec climbs happen all over Southeastern Wisconsin, and many of them sell out through the local recreation program, so it requires some planning and coordination.
If you are interested in an opportunity to climb multiple times, our Rec Climb schedule affords numerous dates and a variety of trees and parks to choose from.
If you have climbed with us and felt a connection or desire to progress further, it makes sense to consider the next level of our climbing programs.
Our Climber Community
Some people exhibit a natural talent for or connection to climbing trees. Maybe you are driven to challenge yourself in new ways. Learn new techniques. Engage more fully, all the while immersed in nature.
Our Climbing Club provides the opportunity for those seeking to more fully engage in tree climbing. It gives people the chance to have multiple climbing experiences over a period of time. We will learn more about how and why the system works the way it does and about the trees themselves, exploring a new topic at each climb. We will try new techniques to develop your climbing skills, climb to higher branches, and stretch in ways that aren’t possible at a recreational climb.
Whether on your own, for your child, or as a family, the Climbing Club provides a unique opportunity to explore tree climbing beyond the sheer enjoyment of playing in trees.
Thankfully, playing in trees is so much fun that you won’t even realize you were tricked into learning applied concepts of geometry, physiology, physics, or biology!
License to Climb
I made that up. There isn’t a climber’s license per se. There is, however, endless joy for people who decide to take up tree climbing as a hobby or for use in a career.
Do you remember the freedom you gained when you got your driver’s license?
I got a taste of responsibility thanks to the ability to step on the gas and pull out from under my parents’ control. I enjoyed the sense of freedom and control from behind the wheel.
These days, freedom feels like a saddle over one shoulder and rope over the other. Hiking through the woods in search of a tree, walking up to a tree I have been given permission to climb, or simply walking out my back door, my worries fall off my shoulder with each step.
When I reach my destination, I scan the crown of the tree to see if a particular branch is calling out to me. During the ascent, I keep my mind and eyes open for whatever unknowns may present themselves.
Once I find a spot to sit back and relax, I find it quite easy to dive into my journal. My thoughts flow freely. I’d probably never be mistaken for an artist, but creativity feels almost within reach on the days I doodle and sketch at the top of a tree.
I can share a limb with a friend. String my hammock between branches 35’ above the ground. Let my mind wander. Read a book. I am on my own schedule. I am in another world.
It is an incredible feeling when you realize that you may very well be the only person who will ever climb a particular tree.
This is why I climb.
Enrollment in our climbing classes continues to grow, which tells me I am not the only nut out here!
Which Experience Will You Choose?
Climbing trees opens up a whole new frontier for your adventurous spirit to explore. We have a variety of offerings designed to help you explore them at the level you desire.
Rec Climbs make it very easy to get outside and play in the trees.
The Climbing Club dives a little deeper into some of the intricacies of technical tree climbing.
Our Learn To Climb courses provide the training that forms the proper foundation for all professional climbers, arborists and recreational climbers alike.
See you in the trees!
Have you been enjoying the winter? I am fortunate as I have to get out and about each week in order to look at trees.
This month I decided to take you along for a glimpse into tree inspections, and to share a couple of issues that may be of interest for anyone who owns property with trees.
It has been rather chilly, but I think I was able to finally get my ideas across before frostbite set in!
Your confidence has a major impact on your level of happiness.
Confidence can determine how much you achieve in life.
When I lack confidence in myself to handle a specific task, I find myself immobilized by fear, uncertainty, and feelings of anxiety. My mind says things like, "I can't", "I don't know how", and "I haven't done this before". The view forward is obscured and the task appears overwhelming.
Have you experienced this? Have you seen it in your children?
Confidence plays an important role in everybody’s life. It is so powerful that confidence early in life has strong influence on a person’s success when they enter the work force.
Fortunately, as it is with most skills, we can maintain and build confidence through regular practice.
Learning new guitar pieces, working through rock-climbing problems, and climbing trees are not only hobbies I enjoy, they also provide opportunities to work on building my confidence.
Working through the challenges I face in these hobbies can either build or diminish my level of confidence. Since tree climbing is a hobby I share with others, it provides me the additional perspective of watching others work through their own challenges.
In working with many climbers through the years, I have noticed that there appears to be three important steps to building confidence: overcome self-doubt, split a hefty goal into a series of smaller goals, and focus attention inward.
Overcoming Self Doubt
"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right."
Negative self-talk is the first thing that must go.
As the case with most challenges, if you are to have any chance at successfully climbing to the top of the tree you will need to overcome self-doubt. This doubt tends to be triggered by fear.
Each of us has our own fears to work through. Fear of heights. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of failure. Brand new experiences can be scary.
Simply taking the initiative to try something new may be enough to help you overcome your fear, thereby giving you a boost in confidence. Once paired with the know-how, you are able to pursue your goal for the day.
For others who are still working through their fear, self-doubt creates an obstacle.
My role as a facilitator is to aid you on your journey to reaching your goal. I can show you the technique yet I cannot climb the tree for you. Once you are on rope, my words are all I have to help you. They are more than enough.
Our fears express themselves in the words we use. The words you use have a profound impact on how well you will perform. "I can't" seems to be the most common and inhibiting phrase I hear people say.
These words are typically uttered within one minute of trying to climb. This leads me to believe they are spoken more out of reflex or conditioning.
In order to move forward, we must stop the negative self-talk. We then replace them with positive words like, "I can do this" and "I am doing it." Speaking and thinking positive words and thoughts instills confidence.
Building on a Series of Smaller Goals
"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"
Sometimes our goal is so lofty that we have no idea how to achieve it. In order to reach the goal, we will need to break it down into smaller steps.
There are many reasons why this approach leads to success, but I think a primary driver is that it allows us to realize success at each step. This gives us a boost in confidence. With each successive step our confidence continues to grow.
Thomas came to climb with us earlier this summer. When he first arrived, his sight was set on climbing to the top of the tree. He came with confidence.
As he began to ascend, his focus appeared to be strictly on reaching the top. Focused on that goal, he began to struggle because he tried to skip some of the steps involved in the climbing technique.
The sit-stand method is the foundation of the climbing technique. Given the struggle, he naturally resorted to trying alternative methods like pulling with his arms and kicking his legs out. He then realized he was not getting higher. His frustration began to build while confidence plummeted.
When trying to help a person build confidence, they must be allowed to work on their challenges. Personal growth happens through personal experiences of trial and error. Constantly telling a person how to do something or doing it for them robs them of these invaluable lessons.
By having Thomas turn his attention back to the climbing technique, he was able to focus on the fundamental steps. The steps necessary to reach his overall goal.
With his focus back on using his legs versus his arms, he began to regain some of his confidence. After repeating the process a few times, he was able to realize and acknowledge that he had ascended to 15 feet on his own. In a short period of time, his smaller goal of reaching the first branch was achieved. Eventually, his ultimate goal was only a few feet away.
Thomas' goal of climbing to the top was unachievable until he broke it down into smaller attainable steps. With each success, his confidence grew. With each boost to his confidence, he was prepared to take on the next challenge. Gradually, his ultimate goal came into focus.
Do Not Compare Yourself to Others
"It doesn't matter what others are doing. It matters what you are doing."
Building confidence in yourself has nothing to do with other people. Confidence is understanding and knowing what you are good at or the value you provide.
In order to build confidence, you must be focused on yourself and your own experience.
When Thomas began to struggle, his frustration was further compounded when he noticed that others were higher than him. He lost confidence when he confused his ability to perform as well as the others as a reflection on his ability to succeed.
His ability to climb had absolutely nothing to do with how well the other climbers did. Comparing himself to others only allowed negative self-talk to return and diminish his confidence.
Almost like a light switch, when he returned his focus to his own progress, his confidence returned immediately.
Hobbies That Build Confidence
“The more risks you allow your children to make, the better they learn to look after themselves.”
I value activities that challenge me and provide opportunities for growth.
From April through October, I am surrounded by people. My weeks are filled with facilitating tree climbs 6 out of 7 days. With this comes the ability to climb regularly. Together they keep me focused on maintaining and building my own confidence.
With winter rolling in, I will not be in the trees as often. My other hobbies like rock wall climbing, learning guitar, and training for half-marathons take on a bigger part of my weekly schedule. These activities provide many of the same benefits that tree climbing does. They help me remain aware of and practice the 3 steps to building confidence.
The confidence I gain from these hobbies further benefits me when I take on new challenges and pursue new goals in other areas of my life.
I have experienced the power that having confidence in myself provides. I have seen the same in many of you who have climbed with us.
April 14th is the first day of our 2018 climbing season. Until then, I encourage you to seek out other hobbies and experiences that can help you and your children continue to build confidence.
With confidence, happiness and success follow.
When we first met, it was likely as we clipped you on rope and had you sit back in your saddle during one of our Recreational Climbs.
Do you remember how you felt after the first time you climbed with us?
Most new climbers experience feelings of excitement paired with apprehension. Like you, we have no idea how you will do nor what challenges you may face. We discovered those together as you began ascending on your own.
The climber we take off rope once you’ve returned to the ground is a changed person.
The excitement is still there, but now glowing with pride. The short time you spent in the tree was enough to have a profound impact. The feeling of accomplishment is a boost to your self-esteem.
If you listen, the benefits of tree climbing can be hear in the conversations and comments made by climbers in the tree. The interactions between climbers and those on the ground are revealing. The feedback from climbers and parents is enlightening.
Each of these speak to the value of tree climbing.
What’s the Next Step
As I wrap up the final recreational climbs and stow the gear for the winter, a lot of fond memories and faces run through my head.
Many of the people we met this year were looking for a unique experience, and found it.
How did her friends respond when your daughter told them she had climbed a large tree over the weekend? Were your friends and family amazed when you shared the pictures of your son in the tree?
During the busy climbing season, we are focused on giving this experience to as many people as possible. Now we are offering some additional opportunities to those who are interested in taking their experience to the next level.
Learning To Climb
Many people are perfectly happy to let me set everything up and facilitate their climbing experience.
Others, however, long for the freedom to head out and climb on their own. With proper training and experience, you can begin your journey into the trees and become part of the international community of recreational tree climbers.
Do you remember how it felt to get behind the steering wheel of a car for the first time? Getting a driver’s license was a rite of passage. With driving lessons and the ability to drive under supervision, you were able to learn the rules of the road and develop safe driving skills.
Our Beginning Tree Climbing course is the entry point into this exciting and rewarding hobby. It is designed specifically for the recreational tree climber. While tree climbing does not require a license, successful completion of this course might remind you of how you felt when you finally got your driver’s license!
We pack a lot of value into the 16 hours of personalized instruction along with a copy of the Beginning Tree Climbing reference manual. One of our goals during class time is to expose you to a variety of equipment in hopes of helping you find the gear you like when it comes time to purchase. The wish list for a new climber quickly adds up!
Many new climbers find equal value in the 6-post class climbs we offer.
My goal is to get you climbing and practicing your climbing skills. For some, these 6 climbs provide a level of comfort in having a coach on site. It also allows you to spread out the cost of your initial investment in personal gear. The cost of climbing gear pales in comparison to buying your own car. But, as with all hobbies, there is an expense all the same.
How Can We Help You Continue Your Journey
I view tree climbing as a place to be. I can spend hours sitting in the canopy. Meditating. Journaling. Swinging. Drawing. Relaxing.
Trees provide an essential energy source. Sitting in their presence exposes you to this energy, thereby reducing feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety. Tapping into this source helps me find balance in my life.
Hopefully one of our offerings will touch you in the same way.
For those ready to take control of the wheel, our next Beginning Tree Climbing class is rapidly approaching! It will take place on November 11&12th. Learn more here and sign up to join us!
Are you looking for new and exciting ways to get outside and enjoy the seasons? You do not have to travel across the state let alone to the other side of the country to find exciting adventures in the great outdoors. There are a number of unique offerings right here in Waukesha County. Make it a goal to try at least 2 of them this year! Whether you have free time during the week or on the weekends, every one of the following adventures are available to you.
1) Balloon Rides
Wind Dancer Balloon Promotions: WAUKESHA, WI
- Hot-air balloon rides are the ultimate in tranquil early morning or early evening flights in the Waukesha area. Flights are available year-round, seven days a week, weather permitting. Reservations are required. www.winddancerballoons.com
2) Foot Golf
Moor Downs Golf Course: 438 Prospect Ave, Waukesha, WI 53188
- Foot Golf is a combination of soccer and golf! 18-holes. www.golfwaukeshacounty.com/footgolf/
Waukesha County Parks: www.waukeshacounty.gov/camping/
- Menomonee Park, W220 N7884 Town Line Road, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051, (262) 548-7801
- Mukwonago Park, S100W31900 County Hwy LO, Mukwonago, WI 53149, (262) 363-7658
- Muskego Park, S83 W20370 Janesville Rd, Muskego, WI 53150, (262) 548-7801
- Naga-Waukee Park, 651 Hwy 83, Hartland, WI 53029, (262) 548-7801
4) Recreational Tree Climbing
Treetop Explorer LLC: WAUKESHA, WI
- We loved climbing trees as children, but somewhere along the way we stopped. Treetop Explorer, LLC provides the recreational tree climbing experience in southeast Wisconsin. Regularly scheduled climb events open to the public and private climb events available for birthdays, team bonding, reunions, and outdoor adventures. Once you are in your harness and on rope, you are free to ascend at your own pace and move about the tree as you feel comfortable with. www.treetopexplorer.com
5) Disc Golf (aka Frisbee golf)
a) Oakwood Community Park: 3000 Oakwood Road, DELAFIELD, WI 53029
b) The Phantom Disc Golf Course @ Minor Park: HWY LO (Eagle Lake Ave) east of HWY I, MUKWONAGO, WI 53149
c) Miniwaukan Park: 360 McKenzie Dr., MUKWONAGO, WI 53149
d) Valley View Park: 5100 Small Rd., NEW BERLIN, WI 53151
e) Sussex Village Park: N63W24459 Main St., SUSSEX, WI 53089
f) Wales Community Park: 420 E Brandybrook Rd, WALES, WI 53183
g) New Tribes Bible Institute: 915 N Hartwell Ave, WAUKESHA, WI 53186
h) Vernon Disc Golf Course @ Town Hall: W249S8910 Center Dr, BIG BEND, WI 53103
When I tell people that I climb trees, it triggers their own memories and stories about climbing a tree as children. Without fail, a smile comes across their face as they enjoy the memories in their mind while sharing a story with me.
I have climbed trees professionally for over 20 years now. I have climbed to prune them. Climbed to remove them. Climbed to perform other surgical tasks.
A few years ago, I learned that some people climb them simply to be in them. They use the same climbing system that we do as arborists, yet they have no predetermined reason for ascending into the tree other than to get to know the tree.
From that conversation, I was hooked. I had climbed a trees outside of work to practice new techniques for the job. I had even taken friends and family into trees so they could experience the sense of accomplishment reaching the top, and the joy of taking in the view. But it never occurred to me that it was okay to climb solely for the enjoyment. Just as I did when I was a kid.
This is how a 20-year veteran of climbing trees came to “discover” the joy of tree climbing.
The Climbing Tree is taken from an essay I wrote years ago. It describes the impact that tree time had on me as a child. Something I guess I have never outgrown.
The Climbing Tree
I do not recall the species of my first climbing tree. Ash, elm, oak, I couldn’t say. The memories, however, are still vivid in my mind.
At first, I had to ask my older brothers to give me a boost. As they hoisted me high, I stretched my scratched, bruised summer-time kid arms up to the lowest limb and pulled myself up with an “umph” to sit on the worn branch. In time I grew and was able to jump up and touch the limb. Not much longer after that, I was able to jump up and grab the limb all on my own! That was the climactic day that I could finally get myself into the tree relying solely on my own strength and skill.
By that time, I had already been climbing higher into the canopy and further out on branches. My older brothers had shown me where to hold with my hands and where to place my feet so I could discover different spots in the tree. They encouraged me to challenge myself until I could confidently reach out to the two swinging limbs- limbs you could hold onto with both hands and let yourself hang and swing and yell out wild calls into the canopy.
We had many adventures in that tree. We schemed harmless heists and mused over the standard philosophical schoolboy chatter. The tree served as our fort where we would plot our neighborhood mischief for the day. Even though it was our fort, we never used a single nail or board. The number of branches and the perfect sitting areas throughout the crown of the tree served as the ideal fort for us.
Oftentimes I'd head up alone on a hot summer day to lay back on one of the limbs that held me as if they had grown for just that particular purpose. Other times I would climb to the "crow's nest", a point where five branches emerged at the same point and curved upward to create a seat that cradled my upper body.
It was here that I could read a book, while swinging one leg lazily between limbs or doze off in the calmness and serenity of the canopy, as thousands of emerald leaves twisted and turned around me in a soft summer breeze. I had discovered tree time.
As an I.S.A. Board Certified Master Arborist, T.C.I.A. Certified Treecare Safety Professional, T.C.I.A. Tree Care Specialist, and G.O.T.C. Recognized Instructor, Curt has spent over 30 years dedicated to the study and care of trees.