Tree­houses of­fer es­cape to new world

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - Bill Ret­tew

The neigh­bor­hood tree­house is a way for kids to cre­ate their own world, hid­den away from par­ents and teach­ers.

And now the roles are some­what re­versed as par­ents are build­ing man­sion­like struc­tures far above the ground for the en­joy­ment of both their chil­dren and them­selves.

Tree­house World, a theme, or amuse­ment, park with two tree­houses and twelve plat­forms re­cently be­came vis­i­ble from Route 202, at 1442 Phoenixville Pike.

Or al­ter­nately, founder Dan Wright and his crew will build you a cus­tom tree­house on your prop­erty, or gather the needed sup­plies and fur­nish the plans.

“For those who don’t have a tree to build in they can come and play for the day or have a birth­day party,” Wright said.

Wright talked about what it’s like to climb into an­other world.

“It’s a taste of free­dom, in­de­pen­dence and cre­ativ­ity,” he said. “When a child is seven to nine feet above the ground, and their par­ents can’t reach their an­kles, they’ve es­caped.

“You get a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on life.”

Tree­house World builds above-ground struc­tures, but it’s up to kids to pro­vide the imag­i­na­tion, Wright said.

Devin Carre, as­sis­tant man­ager, agreed.

“We didn’t build any­thing here to en­ter­tain you, you have to en­ter­tain your­self.”

Climb­ing the ropes and stairs is a good work­out.

“Ev­ery­thing here takes en­ergy ... the kids are like lit­tle hur­ri­canes,” Carre said.

Wright talked about a Main Line tree­house where kids de­vel­oped their own news­pa­per, the “Tree­top Gazette.”

“Do not tres­pass or take any of my things out of my tree­house,” reads a posted sign at an­other cus­tom tree­house. “If you do I will sue you to the full ex­tent of the law.”

At one tree­house the kids per­son­al­ized the space. They con­structed a pul­ley and bucket sys­tem, stretch­ing from the tree­house to the kitchen win­dow. Mom or dad could then send out a sand­wich with­out the kids ever hav­ing to come back down to Earth.

I’m re­minded of the old Bill Wat­ter­son comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes.” Calvin wasn’t fond of girls, although Hobbes, a stuffed tiger, was. Calvin of­ten fought with his ‘friend’ Susie Derkins.

In Calvin’s tree­house, a note might have been posted, with the acro­nym, G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS)

The tree­houses at Tree­house World are glo­ri­ous.

A train runs high above the ground. It’s a joy to dis­cover each rail­road car.

At the nearly com­pleted Grey Beard Tree­house, a three-tiered pi­rate ship, visi­tors climb rope lad­ders from level to level. One day soon, young pi­rates will walk the plank for a nice freefall.

Asa Pehlert, as­sis­tant in­struc­tor and high school stu­dent, en­joys work­ing with a younger crowd.

“See­ing fam­i­lies here to­gether, in­ter­act­ing in ways they wouldn’t oth­er­wise, is great,” he said. “It’s ex­cit­ing see­ing peo­ple able to do things they didn’t think they could.

“Kids say, ‘There’s no way I can get to the top,’ but you en­cour­age them and they ring the bell at the top and that’s a good feel­ing.”

The 14-acre prop­erty is lo­cated at the head of Val­ley Creek. Oak, po­plar, sy­camore, wal­nut, spruce and hick­ory trees make for a per­fect set­ting for fu­ture ex­pan­sion.

You wouldn’t be­lieve where we are,” Carre said. “It doesn’t feel like we’re in West Ch­ester.”

I’m most ex­cited to try out fly­ing on the now-un­der-con­struc­tion zip line course, which is sched­uled to open next spring.

Carre said the park is de­signed to de­velop pos­i­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics.

“It’s about fac­ing your own fears, overcoming ad­ver­sity and let­ting go,” he said.

I would have to agree. But maybe that’s the kid in me talk­ing, though there’s noth­ing wrong with that?

The park is open, while un­der con­struc­tion, with plans to ex­pand dur­ing the next two to three years. Hours are lim­ited. The park closes, ex­cept for those hold­ing reser­va­tions, for the sea­son, Nov. 30.

For more in­for­ma­tion call, 484-329-7853. The park hosts birth­day and other types of par­ties.

To build your own tree­house, call 610-696-1066 or go to www.tree­top­builders.net.

Ad­mis­sion is $12, with ex­tra fees for staff-as­sisted ac­tiv­i­ties.

There is an ex­tra charge for ac­tiv­i­ties such as the bungee tram­po­line, “rock climb­ing” on trees and archery tag.

BILL RET­TEW JR. — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Devin Carre of Tree­house World guides the way.

BILL RET­TEW JR. — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

A train tree­house chugs along at amuse­ment park Tree­house World near West Ch­ester.

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