Oakledge Park, located at the end of Flynn Avenue in the South End of Burlington, has many wonderful features. There are beaches, bike paths, walking paths, pavilions, playgrounds, picnic tables, and plenty of natural beauty. But the one thing we never miss when we visit Oakledge is the secret treehouse.
Okay, the treehouse isn’t really a secret. It is clearly labeled with a big wooden sign, and most people do seem to know about it, but to get to it you have to travel down a dirt path through a wooded area, and you can’t see the treehouse from where the path starts, so it has an air of mystery about it, and every time we arrive it feels as though we have made an exciting discovery that has been hidden for decades. It’s fantastic!
The treehouse itself has a lovely view of, well, not much. Mostly you can see some volleyball courts and a paved bike path. No lake view, but that’s not important. What’s important is that you are really high up! You can see things! I don’t think it matters at all to my kids what they are looking at, as long as they can feel high up and adventurous. Plus you can look down through the space where the house meets the tree and feel like you could slip through at any moment, even though you couldn’t, so the sense of danger and wonder is vividly present.
Did I mention that the treehouse is circular? This means that your kids can run (or even bike) around and around for hours without ever getting lost, needing to turn, or tiring out. And on the inside of the curve, close to the trunk, are benches for parents to sit on and relax. The kids laugh and shout in perpetual motion while we grown ups can sip our secret drinks and read our magazines and post it all to Facebook. It is perfect. Some days it is a spaceship, other days a pirate ship, and occasionally it is a fire truck, but it is always a pleasure for everyone involved.
Thanks to those benches you can lay out snacks, change diapers, give time-outs, and do all other parental activities without leaving the comfort and safety of the area that your child is playing in, and there is really no way for them to escape. Okay, well, that’s not true. There is that long path that turns into a wooden bridge that leads in and out of the treehouse, and kids love to run down there as well, but thanks to the allure of the treehouse, you can be sure that, even if they try to escape, they will not go far. Why would they run off to a boring grassy area when there is a giant treehouse to play in?!
So if you are looking for a fun place to take your kids, that is free, good for rain or sun, and somewhat peaceful for parents as well as madly entertaining for children, go check out the Oakledge treehouse, just past the second pavilion. You may have been there before, but each time feels like a new discovery.
Written By: Adam Hall
I am a stay-at-home Dad who also happens to be a professional opera singer. When I am not on the road singing for various opera companies, I am at home taking care of my kids and driving my wife crazy. Raised in Vermont, we are now bringing up our children, Ruby and Edward, here. If you want to hear more about music, parenting, and everything in between, check out my blog at www.tenordad.com