I hope you are never in a position where you need to climb a tree fast to get away from something chasing you that (you hope) can’t also climb one. Fortunately, usually when you want to climb a tree you have the time to assess it and work out the best way of getting up there and, of course, getting back down. This is why climbing a tree can be a very practical lesson in problem solving.
A lot of thought needs to go into the climb. The climber needs to assess the footholds, the reach, the stability and strength of branches and also take into account the weather. They also have to make a pretty honest decision about their own physical capabilities, as well as determine how prepared they are to be in a position of some uncertainty. They also have to consider how they are going to get down again, although from experience, this usually only happens once the climber has got up as high as they want to.
Children need to make decisions all the time and in many forms. From maths and science questions, to social relationships, to what to play at break time and so on. Good decision making is a skill they need to learn in order to get better at everything. Taking a calculated risk, means making a decision. And making a good decision means taking an acceptable risk and that is a great thing to learn.
Tree climbing encapsulates many of the benefits of Forest School. It empowers children to take risks at their own pace and using their own skills and self-awareness to achieve something they really want to do. I have seen time and again the sheer joy that getting up a tree brings to a child. It’s an achievement of real value and creates a memory that can used to benefit all areas of life.