Basic Information

„Experiential education (EE) is an action-oriented method. Through exemplary learning processes it tries to create physical and psychological challenges for people, which should help them in their personal development and to take responsibility for their environment“ (Comp. Heckmair und Michl, 2008; 115)

Typically EE is used in a group setting since the learning process occurs among individuals and within their participation in a group. For EE it is common to use the outdoor environment to enlarge the outcome of the learning. Leaving the comfort zone is associated with outdoor experiences and often helps people to be open minded for new experiences and learning.

EE strives to create sustainable impressions which help the individuals of the group with their behaviour in daily life. That is why refecting and transferring these impressions is an important component of EE.

Experiential Education sees the individuals in their holism - of body, mind and spirit - and tries to create a learning environment where each parts is involved. A very important issue is the willingness of the individuals. No one should be forced beyond their personal boundaries.

Through EE soft skills such as trust, (self-) responsibility, participation and self-efficacy can be improved.

Further Information

Treehouse Building as a Unique Method of Experiential Education

In 2002 Sam Brüngger began to build treehouses with Outdoortech as a methode of EE. In 2009 the dutch YMCA implemented his methods. Out of this “Buitendoor” was founded. In 2013 the 1st international treehouse camp took place during the YMCA Europe festival in Prague. As of 2021 there are more than 10 treehouse camp locations in Germany and Europe.

A treehouse camp is divided into two stages and takes between 7 and 14 days in total. 

1st stage: Building a Treehouse
The goal is it to build a complete and habitable treehouse. During the building process the participants are challenged in many ways and can participate according to their skills and talents. This is also matched with their weaknesses and boundaries - there is a wide variety of work to choose between. The common goal of a finished treehouse helps the group to work together. In this stage the social skills of the participants are highly challenged. Besides good communication and teamwork, they get to know trust, independence and working methods. They are confronted with personal boundaries and wrestle with how to deal with them. This is facilitated during team reflection gatherings. 

2nd phase: Living in a Treehouse
The participants make the treehouse as their own living quarters. After the “moving in” the treehouse is a home for the group. Cooking, eating, sleeping, and their community will be in the treehouse. During this phase participants can invent projects to improve the treehouse or build convenience items like benches. Creativity and self-discipline is required. What needs to be mentioned is that in this time is the limitation  and simplicity of room, that could be very challenging for some. The way of living together is now very different and requires a high amount of social competency.

Treehouse camps have developed over the years into a very efficient method of EE, because (physical and psychological) challenges don’t need to be simulated or created, as in training exercises. They naturally happen. A good reflection and transfer during the process facilitate participants in their learning and long-term personal development.


CVJM-Akademie gGmbH
Institut für Erlebnispädagogik
Im Dru­sel­tal 8
34131 Kassel

Tele­fon: + 49 (0) 561 30 87–506
Fax: +49 (0) 561 30 87–501

Funded by Erasmus+ "Youth in Action"

The website and the content was developed in the project "Treehouse Camps - a Method to Strengthen Key Competences and Integration in Youth Work".

Project duration: September 2018 - August 2021