Tree Climbing

Tree Climbing

Children naturally love to climb trees. If they find a tree with numerous branches that is accessible to climb, they will start their ascent to explore the heights above. Some children find the shelter of a tree makes a great place to hide out and be alone.1

Climbing is an activity that children enjoy from an early age. Most children find climbing fun and strive to accomplish reaching the highest point possible to view the world around them. Exploration and adventure are important parts of climbing. They climb for excitement and the feeling of achievement when they overcome challenges, test their abilities, and show off for others. Peer pressure and encouragement from others often motivates children to accept challenges and climb trees.2

Good climbing trees for children have branches low enough to the ground for them to easily start climbing. Long branches that extend horizontally give children room to sit and talk. A safe climbing tree needs to have strong branches that are not brittle.3

Children should be encouraged to climb safe trees. Playing outside in a tree gives them direct contact with nature and the tactile experience of touching different barks and leaves. Mastering the climb in a big tree builds confidence as well as coordination and strength. Navigating through the branches assists in developing problem solving skills, and as children play together in a tree, their creativity and imagination are expanded.4

Children have a natural instinct to be cautious of heights. When climbing a tree, they will seek out safe branches, avoiding weaker ones, to determine the best route to take. While some adults fear that allowing children to climb trees is unsafe, others realize that exposing them to possible danger gives children the opportunity to learn to cope with life’s challenges. Most children show great caution when climbing, and falls from trees are infrequent.5

Tree climbing has become an organized recreational activity enjoyed by adults and children alike. Using modern climbing equipment, such as ropes and harnesses, the popularity of tree climbing expanded in the early 1980’s in the United States. Tree Climbers International, Inc. was founded to promote the techniques of climbing and the safety of climbers while not harming the trees that are climbed.6

There are two basic techniques for using ropes in climbing: the doubled-rope technique (DRT) and the single rope technique (SRT). The more commonly used doubled-rope technique requires the rope to be looped over a branch. Wearing a helmet and harness, the climber uses the two rope ends to ascend and descend in conjunction with a series of climbing knots. With the doubled-rope technique, children can easily use only their arms to climb a tree. It takes patience and practice to master, but the skills are fairly easy to learn. There are many hands-on classes offered to teach the techniques and skills needed for recreational tree climbing.7

From the ages of six or seven, most children can enjoy tree climbing using ropes. They are fearless, have an abundance of energy, and generally have a low body weight. Tree climbing is one of the most rewarding things children can do outdoors.8

  • 1. “FAQs for Kids.” Tree Climbers International. < > 26 Oct. 2010.
  • 2. Frost, Joe L., Pei-San Brown, John A. Sutterby, Candra D. Thornton. The Developmental Benefits of Playgrounds Olney, MD: Association for Childhood Education International, 2004. pp. 55, 126-127.
  • 3. Hughes, Tash. “Climbing Trees.” Word Constructions. < > 26 Oct. 2010.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Stephens, Karen. “A Tree Climbing Advocate Speaks Out.” Child Care Exchange. < > 26 Oct. 2010.
  • 6. “What is TCI?” Tree Climbers International. < > 27 Oct. 2010.
  • 7. “Tree Climbing Technique.” Tree Climbers International. < > 27 Oct. 2010.
  • 8. Op. cit., “FAQs for Kids.”