Running a climb at Strawberry Fest in Cedarburg, I had a mother thank me for providing the opportunity for her son to try tree climbing.
The other activities were fun and enticing, but she was moved by the opportunity to give her son not only a unique experience, but an activity which required him to exert physical energy and challenge him mentally. Something that bumper boats or a train ride could not provide.
I am positive that day will last in his memory for weeks and months because of the extraordinary way climbing allowed him to approach a challenge, problem solve, and achieve success all under his own abilities.
Why This Experience Is Different Than Others
There are lots of activities and events you can choose for your kids and your family in the summer. But not all of them are able to both excite and challenge young people the way tree climbing does.
When you are standing on the ground, our explanation of the climbing process is quite simple and easy to follow. As soon as you are clipped on rope and sitting in your saddle with feet off the ground, everything changes.
By entering the three dimensional realm above the ground, your sense of balance and stability is uprooted and causes a flush of hormones and adrenaline to cloud your thinking.
Adventure and Experiential Education opportunities provide measurable benefits which is why they are a part of some of the most successful education programs around the world.
With the developing minds and bodies of younger climbers, experiences such as tree climbing have the ability to greatly enhance their cognitive development. We open our climbs to children at 7 years of age and older.
Patience Is The Key
Of course we all want to see our children and students succeed. So much so that when we see them struggle, we are quick to offer advice and guidance.
Unfortunately, by doing so, we are actually doing them an injustice. All too often, well-meaning bystanders, parents and teachers undermine the benefits by taking the mental processing out of the picture.
As we saw above, once on rope, the simple climbing process takes on a new level as the nervous system is energized. By the time I leave a climber to themselves to work on their technique and personal style, they have demonstrated the basic understanding. They still need time to work through things on their own and develop the muscle memory necessary to make progress. It is actually quite simple to derail this process.
Tell them what to do.
When a new climber pauses or processes slower through the steps than what an observer on the ground deems reasonable, it is common instinct for the observer to shout out the next step in the process. Unfortunately, that alone is enough to shut down many people's mental processing.
Without the opportunity to think it through on their own or learn from personal trial and error, the powerful impact and benefit of learning the process on their own is lost. Why process when someone will just tell them what to do?
Something Adults and Kids Can Both Enjoy
The same holds true regardless of age. The young developing mind is greatly impacted, yet adults of all ages benefit. This is why I love to see parents climb with their children. Everyone is on the same level.
You are having the same experience, yet learning and growing on a personal level. By its nature, tree climbing allows many people to be climbing at one time, yet each person is on their own rope, therefore facing their own challenges.
Obviously the title of this article is tongue-in-cheek, but what better way to have your child engage in a fun, non-electronic activity while gaining tremendous benefits without being aware of it!?
Better yet, join them! We tend to each climber we have on rope. What does that mean to you? A pretty inexpensive baby-sitter!
You are free to climb away and sit in the top of the tree. It is quieter up there.
Let us take care of the kids.
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 Senior Instructor, Curt has spent over 30 years dedicated to the study and care of trees.