Can You Shinny Up a Tree? It's Climb a Tree Month!

by Sally Matheny
As my grandparents used to say, "Can you shinny up a tree?"
Not shimmy, but shinny, as in SHIN-KNEE (two of the things you use when climbing). I'm sure it's in southern dictionaries.

Has your child shinnied up a tree lately? Who has never climbed a tree? Research states one out of every three children.

When we were children, my sister and I used to play in the woods for hours. We not only climbed trees but made houses out of sticks, pies out of mud, and crowns out of leaves. Nature provides a wonderful playground.
In the autumn of 2012, I launched a campaign encouraging children to get outside and climb trees. Several children and their parents participated and this year we're doing it again!

October is recognized nationally as Pizza Month, Fire Safety Month, and Diabetes Awareness Month. I propose we also establish it as "Climb a Tree" Month!
It may be hard to admit, but we all know the culprits keeping our kids out of the trees.
    1) Electronic Games

2) T.V.

3) “Busy” Schedules

4) Fearful Parents

5) Fearful Children

Electronics and television have their educational value and the fun-factor. However, quite often we let them dictate our use of time. We have to beat the high score, master the next level, and experience the latest gizmo. 
At 4:00, 7:00 and 9:00 are the family’s favorite TV shows. Missing an episode would be disastrous!
Parents’ schedules are nothing compared to their children’s--dance, sports, scouts, clubs, and friends. Of course, we must fit in school, church activities and community service projects as well. We often think of these things as making our child “well-rounded.” 

If you’re toying with the idea of taking your child outside perhaps you still harbor a few fears:

· Fear of the time it will take away from your schedule

· Fear of accidents, allergies, poison ivy, insects (especially stinging ones), and wild animals. Perhaps we've watched too much “Hogs 
    Gone Wild” or “Finding Bigfoot.”

· Fear the kids might actually like being outside therefore requiring you to be outside more

Of course, parents are not alone with their apprehensions. The children will have their own fears:

· Fear of the time away from the couch, the TV, and the electronics.

· Fear of accidents, allergies, poison ivy, insects and wild animals (Kids pick up on all the parents’ fears, remember?)

· Fear their parents might actually like being outside therefore requiring them to be outside more.

Okay, so face your fears. Gather your children and together research safe tree climbing, poisonous plants, animal habitats and safety in your backyard “wilderness.”
See! There are many benefits (physical & educational) to climbing a tree!
Peel your kid off the sofa and put your sneakers on. Unplug your electronics and pack a first aid kit. Yes, at first there may be complaining but don't give up.
Make it a fun challenge for everyone. They love mastering the various levels of their electronic games, right?

Introduce them to the bravery required for tree-climbing. It’ll take critical thinking, balance, strength and resilience. Perhaps there will be some risk involved. Are they ready to accept the challenge?
Do they have what it takes to beat the odds? Do they want to be the 1 out of 3 who has never climbed a tree?

Who will participate in our "Climb a Tree" campaign? This is a worthy investment. The best thing is it is fun for free. All it takes is a little time, your child, and a tree!

TREE-CLIMBING CONTEST! How about you? Will you take a child outside to climb a tree this month?Tell me your tree climbing stories.

Send me a picture and/or a story of your child in a tree and I’ll put his/her name in a drawing to win a cool outdoor toy (toy will be chosen based on the age of the child).

Each child and parent pictured IN a tree (not beside it on the ground) will have their name placed in the drawing.

You can post your stories in the comments section below or email, snail-mail, or facebook them to me.

All entries due by November 1, 2013.
Winners will be announced November 3, 2013 right here on this blog.

Now, turn off the computer and go climb a tree!

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