Canopy Access for All

2012 | Rotary Youth Camp   

Most children can climb trees without much help. Those with mental or physical challenges usually can’t. For them, this activity requires gear, instruction, and special help. Recreational tree climbing, done with a rope and saddle, makes it possible for just about anyone to enter the world of the treetops safely. For the first time in their lives, our campers will experience the thrill of being in a big tree high above the ground.  With funding from this grant, the Kansas City Rotary Youth Camp will hire Tree Climbing Kansas City, LLC (TCKC) to facilitate tree climbing sessions for our campers.

The experience of tree climbing bonds people to the natural world, and makes them more likely to be conservation-minded. In addition, it builds self-esteem and confidence – particularly in special-needs children, who are now able to do something their “normal” peers can do and that may have formerly seemed impossible.

By accessing the “mystery” of the tree canopy the campers will leave with a better appreciation of nature, and in particular–our camp’s greatest asset–our forest. Not only will they see new horizons but see how they can overcome obstacles by safely ascending into the canopy. Most people have very little knowledge of just how strong trees are and when you place yourself in a harness on a rope over a limb you have placed great trust in the strength of the branches. We know that this will create a strong bold with nature and our trees. There are three goals with this program:

1. Learn to identify the various species of trees on the property

2. Learn how trees are beneficial to our world

3. Gain knowledge of parts of the tree structure and how they work to take water and sunlight and create new growth


Results & Impact of Grant

We were able to have three separate tree climbing events during the summer of 2013. All the campers and staff who participated experienced the joy of climbing a tree and seeing the world from a different perspective. Some of the caretakers commented that their campers were very happy and expressed their happiness throughout the days as the subject of the tree climbing came up in conversation. Even the non-verbal campers demonstrated their happiness at either climbing the trees or swinging from them. The looks of excitement, satisfaction and contentment show plainly in the photos taken at the events.

Through conversations with the campers after the events, staff ascertained that the three goals were met. The campers spoke enthusiastically about the tree climbing and what they saw while they were up in the trees. They were more aware of the types of trees that were in their immediate area and compare them to the ones they climbed. They took note of the way the branches formed as well as the root structure they could see. Campers who participated in the climbs last summer talked about them again this summer, remembering their experiences in the canopy.  They could point to the tree they climbed and could appreciate the trees.

The passion for trees that Tree Climbing Kansas City LLC has is wonderful and they were able to share that with the campers. These events would not have been possible without the funding from the TREE Fund.