Tree Climbers and Tadpoles don’t necessarily run by the book here in BC and Alberta. The same is true for any of the CSB programs and it’s one of our strengths. However, Tree Climbers seems to be especially adaptable in the ways it is being presented here in the west.
Tadpoles is a younger version of the Tree Climber ministry.
Here’s what some of the CSB churches have been
doing with their Tree Climber and Tadpole-aged boys:
Church Example One—the by-the-book program:
These efforts are putting dads and their sons together on a weekly basis. One or two men from the local church act as coordinators, or helpers. Where dads are unavailable, another man from the church, or family, is enlisted for each boy. This is the IDEAL program and produces the best results for both the boys and dads.
Church Example Two—the dad-child variation:
It is absolutely correct to put children, male and female, with their dads. Tree Climbers and Tadpoles encourages this, but secular society is making this less acceptable. Dads must build relationships with all their kids, but in BC, we see few churches using the father-child model. This is partially explained by CSB’s association with GEMS; an organization that has programs for 4-7 year old girls.
Church Example Three—the few-dads variation:
Where only a few dads are available and not enough men are found in the church, the Tree Climber Coordinator has elected to focus on more group activities. The dads who do attend spend time one-on-one with their sons.
Church Example Four—the no-dads variation:
Where no dads are available, churches have decided to go with a junior Stockade type of program with a lot less structure, simpler games, very simple projects and a lot of drop-in guests: firemen, pilots, doctors, etc.
Church Example Five—the Stockade variation:
When the number of boys doesn’t seem to support a fully separate Tree Climber group, the leaders have the younger boys meet with the Stockade for the opening activities and then break away for the rest of the meeting. Dads are encouraged to be involved. This has been a very successful variation in BC.
Church Example Six—the extended-age-range variation:
Because the age group of the Tree Climber/Tadpole programs tend to overlap the age-ranges of the girls' ministries, several churches have elected to extend the age range of Tree Climbers to include 5 year olds, thus making Tree Climbers for boys ages 5 to 7, or Grades K to 2. This, too, has been a great success.
Church Example Seven—the problem variation:
Where Tree Climber units have been seen to fail, the common thread seems to be the inclusion of Tree Climber boys in Stockade activities that are too demanding, and in Story Circles that don’t speak to the boys at their level of understanding. You can get away with adding 7 year olds to Stockade, but Tree Climbers need to be separated from the Stockade for many of the activities.
Tree Climbers (and Tadpoles) is an excellent way to start the CSB ministry in any church.
In Tree Climbers, dads relate one-on-one with their boys, learning to demonstrate key Christian disciplines.
As their sons move into Stockade, the dads tend to become Rangers, often shepherding a group of other men’s sons; the son is connecting with other men and boys, and the dad is honing his group leadership skills.
When the boy joins Battalion, his dad can come along but the boy is now becoming independent from his parents and is looking for the counsel of other men and peers. This is the normal growth to maturity that most boys will experience. And dad, well he's the got qualifications and time to lead within his church.
It's a beautiful way to grow a boy, a man, a family, and a church.