A rare photo of my old tree fort, showing the flooring for the eastern planking.
The Old Tree Fort: Once Home of the Beaver Patrol
By Richard Mabey Jr.
I became the Patrol Leader of the Beaver Patrol in September of 1966, at the age of 13. It was a responsibility that I took very serious. We would often hold patrol meetings in my old tree fort. This was the time period when the members of the Beaver Patrol were building their very own clubhouse.
There were three main platforms to my old tree fort. So, there was plenty of room for all the members to have a place to be seated. The platforms were not built one on top of one another. Rather, they were built upon big, thick tree limbs that reached out for a considerable distance from the trunk of the tree, in all directions.
My old friend, Stu, sitting next to the landmark table in my old tree fort. Note the high, northern planking in the background.
We had a table set up in my old tree fort. I know that sounds amazing, but it was true. We actually had a table set up in the heart of the old tree fort. It was here, where the gang would gather round and plan menus for campouts. We would also more or less hold our patrol meetings around this table.
The knotted rope was an essential component to the tree fort experience. It was this very rope that we would use to climb up into the tree fort. Note the western planking, just below from where I am standing.
The knotted rope added to the adventurous spirit to the tree fort. The way to get to the western planking, the lowest level of the old tree fort, was by climbing up the knotted rope. There was a certain risk involved, because when you reached the top of the rope, you would have to grab onto one of the plankings and pull yourself up.
From the summer of 1973, the last three boards of the northern planking.
The northern planking was the highest planking of the old tree fort. Also, the most dangerous to get to. You would have to walk out on this long limb, a good two stories high in the air. There was a tree limb just above the limb that you would walk out on, so you could hold onto it as you walked out to the northern planking.
But the thing of it was, that when you reached the planking, you would have to let go of the tree limb that you were holding onto in order to hop onto the planking itself. Needless to say, it required full concentration.
I’ve often wondered, how many other scouts across the land, held their patrol meetings in tree forts?
To say that holding patrol meetings in my old tree fort added to the adventure and sense of danger, is an understatement. The old tree fort was a very cool place to have patrol meetings. Although, it wasn’t long before the members of the Beaver Patrol completed the building of a little clubhouse at the edge of my yard, near the entranceway to the woods.
Now that I’m 62, I often reflect upon those days of innocence. I often wonder how many other boys, throughout the good old U. S. of A. held their patrol meetings in a tree fort. There was something very magical, very wonderful and very dangerous about a tree fort. It was one of the essential ingredients of boyhood.