Monday, October 15 , 2018, 7:53 pm | Fair 65º


Captain’s Log: Tree Climbing Has Its Ups (Mostly) and Downs

It's great fun, and a little dangerous; share your experiences with going out on a limb

Tree climbing is great for kids. Well, maybe kids of all ages, since I still occasionally find myself drawn to forks and lower branches of large creek bed trees.

But for kids, tree climbing is pure adventure, complete with thrills, danger and, best of all, a sense of accomplishment. It’s also excellent physical training.

Is it dangerous? Yup, and I’ve fallen out of a couple of trees in my time. It hurts. I’ve had friends fall and break a limb — their own, not the tree, though the two mishaps occasionally happen together. The pastime doesn’t come without dangers. Climbers (and their parents) must accept those dangers or institute a draconian no-climb rule. Personally, I’m glad my parents encouraged me to climb.

Along our local creek beds you’ll find hundreds of trees just perfect for climbing. Some are even perfect for a treehouse. Tree climbing is one of the most fun activities when taking kids to the creek bed. Well, that and slogging through the water. For safety I must advise against going in the water when it is running fast and deep from rains. Otherwise, it’s a blast.

Many lucky kids don’t have to go beyond their own yards to find good trees to climb. That sure worked for me when I was a kid. I recall that whenever my parents invited people over who I didn’t particularly enjoy, I became very hard to find. Sure, my mom and dad knew where I was, and sometimes they would even stand right below the tree and comment to the guests that they wonder where their son got off to. That was their way of telling me it was OK. They usually just let me be, at least until dinnertime.

Come to think of it, I often went up the tree even when I did like the guests, but I’d invite their kids to join me. It was great fun, and the parents didn’t mind because the activity kept us entertained and the parents had an opportunity to chat or play cards.

Climbing a tree is great fun, but climbing a tree to free a cat is ill-advised at best. At the worse it is like sending a kid to do adult work. Cats are made for climbing. We aren’t exactly well-designed for it, which is why it is such an adventure for us. If cats really needed help getting down from trees, we’d be finding cat skeletons in trees.

Just give a cat time, or better yet, put a bowl of milk below the tree where the cat can see it. I don’t mind confessing that I tried a couple of times as a kid. After watching my relatively clumsy climb, each of the cats I tried to “rescue” decided they were better off on their own, and I end up with scratches on my arms and hands as reward for my heroism.

Share (with comments) your own best and worst experiences with tree climbing when you were a kid. If you’re still a kid, that’s OK; share your story anyway.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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