Accessible Treehouses Where Every Kid Can Thrive
We’re celebrating the spaces that allow all kids access to nature, no matter their illness or condition. At camp, those spaces are everywhere—adaptive boat launches, wheel-chair accessible zip lines, and allergy-friendly dining halls—but the treehouses are some of our favorites.
Despite differences in language and geography, three SeriousFun camps are home to fully-accessible treehouses. The ramps that accompany them act as bridges from ground to sky, where many campers get their first chance to explore the treetops. The treehouses stand tall as lively playgrounds and reminders that, when we dream big, the possibilities for fun and inclusion are endless.
While we can’t be together at camp right now, we hope you enjoy this virtual roundup (scroll on for a special video tour) of three of our favorite nature spots below!
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
Fifteen years after the start of The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp the Discover Treehouse came to life. It stands 30 feet off the ground. With 300 feet of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramp connecting 10 different platforms, it’s as surreal as it sounds. The platforms lead up to the main treehouse, which is used for special programs like Cooking Zone picnics and meals out (a special treat at camp). What’s even cooler? Every last window and door is a simple machine—set up on levers and pulleys—which makes for endless play.
Actor and founder Paul Newman was the force behind the treehouse’s creation—and one of its frequent visitors. For many years, the treehouse was adorned with a pirate flag that Paul hung there himself.
Solaputi Kids’ Camp
Takikawa City, Hokkaido, Japan
Inspired by the treehouse at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Solaputi Kids’ Camp set out to create a space in the trees that every camper could access, wheelchairs included. With a donation from the Tokyo Marathon Foundation, camp turned to Takashi Kobayashi of Treehouse Creation. At 26 feet high, they turned dream to reality, adding 16 feet of swaying bridge to connect the structure to the ground.
Furnished with a wood stove to keep it warm in the winter, you’ll often find campers learning about tree shoots and insects or families sipping warm drinks. Up in those trees, it’s hard not to smile. When you peer out the window, you’ll see the zip line where campers soar. Look down and you’ll notice small huts dotting the ground, where camp’s forest fairies have made their home.
The treehouse holds a special place at Solpauti Kids’ Camp. It’s where children and families come to relax, where bird-watching happens, and where campers learn to make sense of animal footprints in the winter snow. It is also home to a custom-made stained glass window—the only such window in the world!
North Star Reach
North Star Reach is home to a treehouse that is, quite literally, camper approved! It was funded by Dance Marathon, a student-run non-profit at the University of Michigan and designed by a local architect with camper input. Campers like Dominic got to give it a trial run, and share their feedback with camp staff to ensure the space was kid-friendly from the ground up. As if that’s not cool enough, you might know the builders…after all, they’ve got their own show. The Treehouse Guys of the DIY Network brought the design to life—and got to hang out with some lucky campers in the process! With a nearly 1,800 square-foot deck, it’s the largest one they’ve built.
Like the treehouses in Japan and Connecticut, you’ll find an enchanting ramp that winds its way to the top. This means every camper, regardless of mobility limitations, can maneuver their way inside—right alongside their peers. And if they prefer not to climb up? There are hammocks galore. Pick one and you’ve got a sweet spot for a swing or a snooze.
But accessibility isn’t the only thing the treehouse does right. Camp was focused on sustainability too; they sought to design with as many recycled and donated materials as possible. Think car doors, a gas tank cover, recycled skis, recycled snowboards, and more. The effect? There’s lots of pops of whimsy and color that make for a magical experience in the trees.
As the health and safety of our campers, families, volunteers, and staff is always our top priority, we’re closely monitoring COVID-19 here at SeriousFun. To learn more and check on the status of upcoming or future camp and program sessions, please click here.