Tree Houses


From a young age, most kids have this insatiable desire to build small dwellings for themselves, a place to imagine and play, maybe even escape that annoying younger sibling for a few precious moments. Couch forts were fine during cold winters, but as we headed into the summer months, we ventured outdoors to build our shelters – such as that big ol’ tree in the backyard.

As the experienced among us can attest, a tree house could be constructed from as little as a few sheets of plywood and some 2x4s, held together haphazardly by a box of nails. Left to their own devices, school-aged children don’t always take safety into account, but thankfully someone’s dad was usually a decent handyman and could help ensure that the tree house was structurally sound, and therefore wouldn’t someday teach you a painful lesson regarding the laws of gravity.

Once completed, the tree house became an exclusive club of sorts, as the owner had full control as to who to allow into their hallowed home away from home – with one notable exception, of course. If dad was going to do all the hard labor and maybe help with the material costs, there was no way he was going to let you blackball your younger siblings, no matter how much you begged. Still, you at least might be able to keep out the younger siblings of your friends. You take what you can get.

One thing that might keep some from enjoying the splendors of a tree house was a fear of heights. Perched high atop treetops sounding like a fun idea, but you did have to make that daunting climb. As any fan of the Brady Bunch can attest, one slip off the ladder and you might just take the quick way down, forever souring your experience.

Of course, no discussion would be complete without mention of the mother of all tree houses, inhabited by the Swiss Family Robinson in the classic 1960 Walt Disney film. The public was so enamored with that particular dwelling that Walt saw fit to build a climbable replica in Disneyland for all to explore.

Perhaps taking a cue from the film, many adults have chosen to build full-sized tree houses, complete with multiple rooms and all the modern conveniences such as electricity and internet access, in which to raise their own families. Some are pretty impressive, but few have the same charm as the home inhabited by the Robinson clan.

Granted, the Swiss Family Robinson structure may have made our own backyard tree houses look a little shabby by comparison, but we didn’t need a kitchen or functioning waterwheel in our own abode. Our imaginations were strong enough to make up the difference as we sat in our lofty castle high above the neighborhood without a care in the world.

Did you dwell among the treetops in your youth? Was yours an architectural marvel or a rickety accident waiting to happen? We would love to hear about all of your tree house memories in our comments section below as we tip our hats to this childhood tradition that still sparks the imaginations of youngsters everywhere.

2 Responses to “Tree Houses”

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  1. HardyGirl66 says:

    Ah, yet another experience I won’t ever know anything about. Being a city kid, I never had a treehouse, but I always wanted one for my dolls, so it was made out of an old wooden stool. However, when I was a teenager here in CA, I once ran away from home, (when I lived w/ my dad), and hid in my friend’s treehouse. Her parents made her tell my dad where I was. I got the whipping of my life, and my friend got her treehouse torn down.

  2. Lynn says:

    My cousins had a little treehouse in their back yard. I always wanted to build a big one for us and my sister and I remember making so many fancy plans. Sadly, they never happened. Mainly because none of us knew a thing about carpentry and Dad worked late hours.

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