Unreal Raffle Treehouse

This site pitches a treehouse as the prize for a raffle.

I’m mentioning it because there are a couple of interesting elements to it. For one, I like the railing treatment — wood frame perimeter with netting — and that I’m thinking about a similar railing design for my own treehouse.

I’m also impressed by the thatch roof. Thats not very common, particularily for prefab units like this one, and I’m wondering about the functionality and longevity of this type of material. The ‘green’ factor associated with a thatched roof is appealing as is the inherent insulating value. I think it would be relatively cheap to make, too, with a local source of grass or small branches. I think I’ll pursue this topic more in another posting…

The main motivation I have for posting this is to point out that it’s a pretend treehouse. I know, its for kids, and kids love themes that are fun and out-of-the-ordinary. Something about the concept just doesn’t seem right; a prepackaged product that objectifies the value of a tree house but somehow omits the real substance. Its the difference between process and possession: making verses having.

I think the nail pulling, hammering, cutting, improvising, climbing, debating, creating, trial and error of building you own is the most valuable part of fun for a kid. It forms a personal attachment as the object becomes an external manifestation of the builder’s efforts. These are skills that cannot be learned when the creative process is bypassed by a ready made consumer option.

And one thing I’ve noticed is that people who build their own treehouses always remark that the project never ends. They don’t mean that its too much work to ever get finished, they mean that the process of building a structure like this, according to plans and imagination, is such a reward unto itself that they continually come up with more things to build because it is fun!

The act of making something yourself stimulates the imagination, imprints new skills, and lends a sense of personal acheivement. These positive outcomes are associated with the object itself, which is why tree house builders are always very proud of their creations, no matter how modest and irregular they may be (the tree houses, not the owners), and this is the hidden value of having a treehouse.

I just think that buying, or winning, a ready made tree house complete with a fiberglass stump somehow cheats people out of these intangible benefits.