As children, most of us share a few similar dreams. We all dream about what we’ll be when we get older and many of us dream about having a treehouse. Some of us are lucky enough to have a treehouse of our own, but for most of us it’s just a dream. Now that dream is a reality for kids and adults alike with a custom built, public treehouse at For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum!
A couple of years ago, a group of kids at a Wild Adventurers program at For-Mar were tasked with presenting a proposal to Genesee County Parks Director, Amy McMillan. Their goal was to prove to her that a treehouse was a worthy addition for For-Mar and that it wasn’t just a cool thought that would lose its luster in a week like so many toys and fads do with kids. After truly impressing her, the Genesee County Parks Commission agreed to adding a treehouse and begun saving funds to make it possible. They also applied to Nelson Treehouse and Supply with a copy of the video from that presentation. Two years later, the Parks Commission had raised sufficient funds and had begun scouting locations for a treehouse when a serendipitous call from Treehouse Masters changed the plans.
Although a treehouse was in the plan, we had no idea that we would end up with a custom built treehouse from the “treehouse master” himself, Pete Nelson, but that’s exactly what happened. The Parks Commission had a small, but mighty, set of requirements for the treehouse when Nelson Treehouse and Supply began making their plans. The plan was to add additional classroom space because the Visitor’s Center space is operating at capacity and For-Mar’s popularity continues to soar. That meant it needed to hold at least 30 kids plus instructors. It also needed to be barrier free, allowing even those in wheelchairs to experience the joys of being in the trees.
It was a tall order, but the crew at Nelson Treehouse and Supply came through with a beautiful AND functional design. It took a little over a month for them to turn that design into a reality, but now visitors of all ages and abilities coming out to For-Mar will have the opportunity to experience a treehouse overlooking the Kearsley Creek. Nestled back in black cherry, red oak, white oak, basswood and butternut hickory trees, the treehouse stands approximately 30 feet above the bed of the Kearsley Creek oxbow and can be accessed be either staircase or the ramp with grades to meet ADA requirements.
On the inside visitors will find tools and equipment for educational programming including a projector, binoculars, microscopes and some unique elements you won’t find in a traditional classroom. The treehouse has an additional level of excitement as it was designed to be the headquarters for The Preservers, the Nature’s Superheroes that Genesee County Parks visitors have come to know.
We would love to share all the details of the construction process and the inside with everyone. However, the build is going to be featured in a January episode of the Animal Planet show Treehouse Masters and you will be able to follow all the details then. We will send out additional information as that date gets closer.
For now, you can still come see the treehouse for yourself! It will be open to the public starting Wednesday, August 24 at 8am. Please watch the For-Mar facebook page for update on hours as well as programming as we work through those details in the coming weeks.
To the trees!