Tree climbing is another classic, outdoor activity that never will grow old! It’s a great activity for adults and kids alike and is an easy way to start getting your kids out of the house on their own. They’ll even get some exercise in the process! You don’t need a fancy gym, class, or playground to build upper-body strength. In fact, kids usually get more exercise and work more muscles in their bodies during free play in the woods on logs, trees, and vines that are all shaped slightly differently than on an evenly balanced playground set or gym. As a childhood pull-up and swimming champ, I should know! All you need is time to play in nature every day in order to have superior upper body strength (think Tarzan!).
As a kid, I would spend an hour each day in an old oak tree in my backyard. It was great to have my own place I could go that was quiet. As an added bonus, I’d see and hear birds in the branches around me, calming me down from a stressful day at school.
To start tree climbing, all you need is a good tree and to let go of your fears (of you or your kids falling!). A tree with low branches is best. If you don’t have any good climbing trees in your yard, why not plant one now? For toddlers and younger kids, dogwoods and Japanese maples are ideal. They have smooth bark and their branches sprawl out in all directions.
Grapevines are also great! Be sure the vine isn’t hairy since it might be poison ivy. I’ve never fallen or pulled one completely off a tree, so it’s pretty safe. When you watch these videos, think about the strength and coordination that is required to hang on and balance on a vine!
You also can build a treehouse if you have very tall trees. I LOVE treehouses and hope to build one for my own kids. Treehouse-building, however, will have to wait for another post!