Why a Climbing Tree has an Impact
Who I am today is influenced by my experiences in the past. I was a conscientious youth who loved to spend time outdoors. My favorite thing in the world to do was climb up to high places and read. This usually meant that I could be found nestled in a tree somewhere. The Climbing Tree is very prominent in my childhood memories for a couple of reasons. It was one of the larges trees I have climbed, and my cousins, sisters, myself would ask to go out there often. We were always driven there, as it was a fair distance from the farmyard, but sitting on the back of the truck was always fun. I did a lot of my exploration of the world in the small area around the tree. Catching frogs, learning about berries and burrs, picking cattails, and examining the world around me from a taller viewpoint.
Being outdoors and having these experiences is important and more so now than ever before, because being outside gives us so many opportunities to be critical and thoughtful and creative. In my story, I mention how “I feel a sense of pride up here. Not because I made the climb or because I was so high up, but because, here, I am part of a larger picture. One that does not end beyond my immediate contact.” And I feel like this has stuck with me. I have always felt as though having fun is more genuine when we are away from digital screens. This is a philosophy that I use in any of my interactions with children, from babysitting to running activities.
Experiencing nature is a large part of outdoor education, and I am convinced that this needs to be practiced more. Not only incorporating the environment into the curriculum but also incorporating into our daily lives. There is something about nature that manages to be paradoxically energetic and lively, but also calm and peaceful. In my story I noted in the tree that, “Most of the branches are sturdy enough to hold our weight as my sister and I race to the top, supported by the rough bark that grips the soles of our shoes, and it seems the tree plays with us as we duck to avoid its clumsy efforts to grasp at our hair.” I also took note of how “it is peaceful, and I feel ready to tackle the world again.” Both aspects are necessary for a person’s well-being as well as critical for youth to learn first-hand.
The last point I wanted to mention about my time here at the Climbing Tree, is that it helped to connect me to past generations. My parents had climbed this tree, and my grandparents watched it grow. This is a meaningful connection for me in my personal life, and it helped me relate to the area better. Listening to other’s stories in class, I was a little struck by how different everybody’s stories were. We each interpreted the assignment a little differently, and it gave me a perspective of how the outdoors interact with each individual in a unique, and meaningful way.