Wednesday, January 5, 2011

YMCA Demo Tree Climb

In early December, Adventure Tree Climbing had the good fortune to host a demo climb for Missouri's YMCA of the Ozarks, which has a large and really beautiful facility just south of St. Louis with challenge courses and climbing walls in addition to a really nice lake and hundreds of acres of woods. They host thousands of visitors per year and it would be a great opportunity for us to provide folks with all the fun and educational benefits of recreational tree climbing.

White Oak Climbing Tree

Ropes and Gear Ready

There are lots of trees, but only a few are really good climbing trees. I looked over the YMCA grounds and found a stately White Oak with wide branches and a full crown that was located on open ground right in front of some cabins – a fabulous climbing tree. Also, although we didn't get a chance to use it, adjacent is a large Pine that could be used for high climbs or traverses.

First, I cleaned the tree of any looming dead-wood. Although hard work, this is one of the funner parts of the job because I get to climb high up and all over the tree. There were quite a few curious passers-by, and one vehicle pulled over and watched for awhile – I imagined they were wishing they could be up there swinging and climbing around with me.

When everyone arrived to climb, I had all the ropes set except one – I figured I'd demonstrate the process of installing the ropes, and also generate a little "wow factor", by launching a throw-weight over a high branch with my Big Shot (which is basically a huge sling-shot). These were all experienced facilitators and I was demo-ing more than simply what a tree climb is like, but also how to facilitate a climb, so I showed everyone the process of putting up the rope and the cambium saver and then how to tie the Magic Knot (i.e. Blake's Hitch) and set up the climbing system.

Gearing Up

We went through the standard intro, occasionally discussing facilitation issues like how to work with different age groups, etc., and then we got to climbing. There is probably no easier group to work with than a bunch of young adults who are accustomed to overseeing the safe enjoyment of adventure activities for others. Everyone learned the tree climbing process quickly and was climbing and bat-hanging and swinging around the canopy in no time.

Bat-Hang and Big Smile

Climbing to Various Heights

Most everyone climbed at least 2 or 3 times. The ropes that went high into the canopy, about 40 feet up, were the most popular. It was a chilly day but everyone was prepared for it – plus it's easy to stay warm with the excitement and exertion of tree climbing.

A pair challenge – climb adjacent ropes with harnesses carabinered together.

Bat-hanging together ...

And sitting on a branch - all while attached together - Impressive!

It was great fun for a couple of hours and I'm really glad I had the opportunity to show the folks at the Y what recreational tree climbing is like and discuss some ways that we might work together. I do recreational tree climbing for the fun, educational and therapeutic benefits it provides to people, and I'd like to work with the Y so that I may reach many more people with these benefits, and also so that I may gain the income that will allow me to continue providing tree climbing. I had a good talk afterwards with Daniel and Angie about possibilities, and I'm excited to see what comes about.

This is my first post about the adventure activities that are part of Adventure Farm. I'm kind'of starting in the middle of the story and I hope to back up and post info about how we got to where we're at now, as well as keeping up with current activities.

May the coming year bring good things to your life -