We consider tree climbing to be an important part of child development.
The benefits we see to tree climbing are:
- Tree climbing is good exercise. Tree climbing is not only fun, but it’s also an excellent workout. Though it’s not nearly as demanding as it appears, climbing is great exercise for the arms and legs. Climbers work many muscle groups they often don’t use elsewhere, and climbing is also great for the spine. The extra bonus to this exercise is that it is stimulating, exciting and produces endorphins...and is never boring.
- Getting in touch with nature. There is something very wonderful about getting outdoors and being related to the part of our environment that resides there. Humans nd peace and relaxation in the branches of a tree.
- Sensory development. A whole new perspective is added to the climbing experience through the feeling of touch as the tree moves and sound as the wind whistles through the leaves.
- Safety and awareness development. When children climb trees they teach themselves about safety and develop awareness for danger.
- The Forest School promotes a ‘challenge by choice’ philosophy where no child is forced to climb or partake in anything they are not comfortable with.
When considering activities that children partake in, we adopt a ‘Risk Bene t Assessment’ view. Where the bene ts associated with partaking in an activity that has perceived risk far outweighs the actual risk involved.
The Forest School ethos is to facilitate and promote healthy risk assessment and risk taking. Children are guided and taught to assess their own risk. This provides children with the con dence they need to then apply healthy risk taking and assessment into other areas of life and learning.
The Forest School teaches children the following rules to ensure minimum injuries when students are climbing trees:
The Rule of Three
There are four points on your body that come in contact with the tree’s branches: two hands and two feet. At least three of these points should be supported by branches at all times.
Keep Close to the Trunk
Always step onto or grab a branch at the point closest to the tree’s trunk. This is where the branch can support the most weight.
Stay off the Dead
Avoid using dead branches when climbing. If you must use a dead branch, be sure to follow the “Keep Close to the Trunk” rule. Dead branches can easily snap; living branches will bend before they break.
Test weak branches
If you’re not sure if a branch will support your weight, test it out by stepping on it (or grabbing it) at a point far away from the tree’s trunk. Be sure that you follow the Rule of Three as you do this. If it passes the test, then step on it (or grab it) at a point close to the trunk.
Always think about falling
If you keep in mind that you could easily fall at any moment, then chances are you will proceed cautiously.
If it doesn't feel right, don't do it
If for any reason you feel uncomfortable with what you’re doing, then stop.
Don't climb in bad weather
Precipitation makes things slippery. This includes heavy fog. When a tree is slippery, the chance of falling is greatly increased. Trees can also be slippery if there is dew or frost.
Wind can cause the tree to sway, especially the top half. This swaying increases the chances of losing your grip and falling. Do not climb or be near a tree at all during a thunderstorm.