Toledo’s treehouse experiment proving popular
“Treehouses bring out the ‘kid’ in everybody,” said Scott Carpenter, public relations director for Toledo MetroParks.
And the park system’s new treehouse village in the Oak Openings Preserve has hosted hundreds of ‘kids’ – both adult-sized and smaller – since opening in July 2020.
Trial rentals at the beginning helped park staff “work out the bugs.” Donors and volunteers served as testers for that. A subsequent lottery for overnight stays, open largely to Ohio residents, drew 6,000 entries!
The treehouses, all designed by Nelson Treehouse & Supply of Washington state, vary in size. Pete Nelson of cable TV’s Treehouse Masters owns the company. It has designed hundreds of treehouses all over the world.
There are two 2-person models, one 4-person, one 6-person, three tent/hammock platforms for overnight campers, a general use “crow’s nest” and one common area treehouse for big group gatherings. All, except the platforms, are heated and air conditioned.
“The two- and four-person models have proved the most popular because they have composting toilets,” Carpenter said. “The four-person is also ADA accessible.”
Pandemic limitations have restricted use of the common-area treehouse, known as Flatwood Commons. It was designed to accommodate up to 49 people for meetings, conferences, reunions, and other gatherings. COVID-19 protocols now limit that number to 15.
“Not a lot of meetings are happening now anyway,” Carpenter said.
Users bring their own linens, dishes, flatware, utensils, and food. However, the park system can provide camping materials in some instances.
“They (treehouses) are nicer than people expect,” Carpenter said.
This summer, the park district will open the treehouses up to area children who might otherwise not be able to attend a camp.
Carpenter’s goal is to get kids away from electronics and game devices so they can experience the outdoors in a new and different way.
And although the treehouses are mostly booked for the remainder of 2021 and well into 2022, occasional stays do pop-up and are available, he noted.
Reservations are generally available Wednesday through Sunday. Those interested can call 419-407-9723 for information.