AYER — Climbing the tallest of trees is a feat many children aspire to accomplish at some point in their youth.
On Aug. 10 the Ayer Childcare Program was visited by Bruce Duffy, of Holliston’s Tree Specialists. Duffy, whose sister works for the Ayer schools, is an Arborist and avid tree climber. He came to the camp program to speak with the kids about how vital trees are to our environment.
Last week the program’s theme was recycle and reuse, so environmentalism was a perfect activity for the campers.
Duffy spoke to the children about different kinds of trees. He showed them fragrant Sassafras bark and told them about how Native Americans used to make root beer from it. Native Americans have also used bark from birch trees for paper. He also pointed out things to stay away from in the woods like poison ivy.
A tree in the woods behind Page Hilltop School had a stump and a tall tree that had grown aside it. Duffy said the tree had been cut down, but had regrown itself.
After explaining what all of his tree-climbing equipment was for, he showed the children how he climbs the highest trees. Duffy, who attended Bristol County Agricultural High School, stressed safety when climbing through the belaying method.
Belaying is a system of ropes and pulleys that ensures a quick and safe recovery if a climber should ever fall. The children were ready for action after Duffy’s presentation, so he let each child try to climb about 10 feet up and “swing” in a safety harness.
Some adventurous children even tried the “zip line,” which is a rope attached to two trees on which they could rappel from one to another.
When asked why he did this for work, Duffy said, “Trees are a very slow, renewable source. I truly feel that I am doing the best job possible by saving this part of the environment. If I can save trees and help nature, then I am doing the right thing.”
Another thing he loves about his job is that he gets to have a picnic lunch everyday.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” he said.
Duffy’s sister, Barbara, said he has been climbing trees all his life, and his family used to refer to him as “Monkey.”
When not educating children about the importance of environmentalism, Duffy participates in international tree-climbing competitions. He will also be featured in a segment on channel five’s “Chronicle” in September.