They’re less well known than others who recreate in forests, but they find communing with nature among trees – literally in trees – just as calming.
They’re recreational tree climbers, a group whose numbers are great enough to support at least two international clubs.
Members of Tree Climbers International and the Global Organization of Tree Climbers think climbing trees is a neat way to spend time outdoors.
“It’s an incredible experience,” said Harv Teitelbaum, who founded the Global Organization of Tree Climbers. “I connect deeply with the outdoors, the physical exercise and the discovery of something new.”
Tree climbing is recreational, but it also has a utilitarian purpose.
Zach Bertrand with the Southern Ute Community Action Program took climbing classes at Teitelbaum’s school, Tree Climbing Colorado. He plans to introduce what he learned in SUCAP programs for youngsters.
As an outdoor adventure, tree climbing can promote team building in that participants place their safety in the hands of others, Bertrand said.
As part of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum, principles of mechanics and velocity of falling bodies can be studied through tree climbing, Bertrand said.
Patty Jenkins, whose husband, Peter, founded Tree Climbers International in 1983, said the club has 1,000 members around the world. He teaches tree-climbing techniques from their headquarters in Atlanta.
“Our members have all levels of expertise and many reasons for climbing trees,” Jenkins said.
National parks are off-limits, so much climbing is done on private property, Jenkins said.
The 2014 Tree Climbers Rendezvous is scheduled to be held Oct. 1-6 and is being hosted by Tree Climbing Kansas City in Shaw Nature Reserve in Gray Summit, Missouri.
Tree climbers use equipment such as leather covers that protect branches, Jenkins said. Spikes such as loggers use on their boots are never found among recreational tree climbers, she said.
Safety is the climber’s guiding principle, Jenkins said.
“In 32 years, we’ve never had an accident.”