Basic Information

Due to the unique teaching methods and variety of tasks, treehouse building is uniquely suitable for participants with integration backgrounds or disabilities. Special considerations are necessary in this context.

Opportunities and benefits

Variable tasks

Tree house camps offer a complex and large framework of different tasks and activities for all participants and offers learning opportunities through the activity-oriented method.

By means of different methods participants are offered a wide array of tasks, suitable for all abilities and many physical handicaps in a very practical way. Everyone can participate with their different skills and abilities. Language, cultural or physical skills are not the most important parts in this team project.

Community - Everyone Can Help

Building a tree house is a cooperative task and it needs every participant to achieve a common goal. The group has to work together as a team.

Through collaborative work all members of the team can feel valuable and contribute to the completion of this common goal. The group learns to accept and appreciate differences in individuals’ experiences and abilities. Participants soon feel involved by contributing to the team’s goal. Everyone is needed to participate and share the responsibility.

Each person has different experiences, talents and ideas for the building process and this multiplicity creates a huge opportunity for tree house camps. (Many migrants for example have technical skills, know how to make fire etc.).

Learning by Immersion

Building tree houses begins with learning by seeing – the participant must not be able to understand the language to participate.  That lowers language barriers and makes them manageable – of course communication about safety rules must be clearly understood.

The building process is learning by doing with plenty of opportunity for further explanation if the task needs to be clarified.

Cultural Enrichment

Shared positive experiences promote integration. Gaining different experiences and sharing all that together creates a foundation of overcoming stereotypes and prejudices about each other or a specific culture. Cooperation tasks, sport activities and other actions together as a group are a suitable foundation for (cultural) openness.

A special ‘helper’ in experiential education is reflection. Reflection can be very helpful for analyzing and slowing down individual actions or group processes. That makes it possible to reflect the group interaction, understand different (cultural) habits and find alternative ways of communication or interactions. Intentional reflection of (cultural) diversity can be a great opportunity for understanding and enrichment.

Overcoming Language Barriers

Working, building, and living together in treehouse camps is a fulltime group-based activity and where communicate with each other is necessary. Although there are multiple challenges in understanding intercultural participants and making sure all the safety rules are defined and understood there are many opportunities and benefits of intercultural communication. In addition to verbal communication, participants can use actions, signs, and facial expression to clarify their points. Showing with gestures can communicate more than one might expect and the treehouse building vocabulary will grow quickly - the learning process is expedited by interest in the subject matter.



Language barriers can be a big topic in treehouse camps. If the intercultural camp takes place in a certain country, there needs to be one standard language everyone speaks. Even local participants must speak that language in order to avoid exclusion. Having one language as the standard is also an important aspect for a positive group dynamic. Managing the group properly is an essential starting point for treehouse camps because it affects the group process. Friends speaking a different language while in a group context can cause conflict among those who do not understand and may become concerned that they are speaking about them.

Furthermore, camp leaders need to be aware that not every participant might speak the standard language. Solutions and other avenues of communication may be necessary to find (translator etc.).

Social / Gender Roles

Each social group and society defines gender roles differently. When integrating two or more groups together, it is important to discuss such differences. These camps give a great chance to question and (possibly) dispose of certain stereotypes about the own gender or the other gender. Getting to know, discussing and being immersed in the gender roles of the country hosting the treehouse camp can also be a helpful step to integrating into that culture in general.

In treehouse camps everyone can to the same tasks without gender differentiation. Integration into western European culture often calls for equal treatment between the genders. Women and men both belong to the team. Living and representing gender equality is decisive and essential for successful integration into western European culture.

Another important point is the leadership of the treehouse camp. Everyone needs to make sure that all participants are equally listening and following the instructions the leaders (whether female or male) to ensure that all safety rules are maintained. Gender roles may not stand in the way of heeding instructions given by leaders.

Norms and Values

The heterogeneity of an intercultural group implicates a different understanding of values (for example tolerance, respect, punctuality, being open for each other etc.). Due to an open process the participants are supposed to develop mutual values.

An important aspect of social norms is the religion. For successful integration, the question of religious contents, prayers etc. must be discussed and it needs to be clear for all participants before the treehouse camps starts. Tolerance, food regulations, prayer times, traditions, religious festivals, dress codes etc. need to be considered while planning and discussing the treehouse camp.

Integration is a process by choice. It does not mean that values, traditions, perceptions or religious attitudes can be imposed on anyone. Showing tolerance and appreciation for cultural diversity opens doors and the willingness to engage into new perspectives.  

Safety Culture

Rules need to set a standard despite intercultural differences. Different countries may define safety at work differently, but to avoid risks safety must be clearly defined.

Safety is a very important part of the treehouse building process. To make sure everyone understands and maintains the rules, the leaders need to ensure understanding among the group. There must be ways to test the understanding to be sure of their compliance.

Refugee Experiences / Traumas

While planning and preparing intercultural treehouse camps everyone has to be aware that there might be participants with refugee experiences. Certain situations (for example living in tents during the treehouse camps) might be reminders of these experiences and can generate post-traumatic stress disorders.

The preparation of tree house camps requires a certain sensitivity towards such experiences. The leaders must discuss if a treehouse camp is appropriate for certain participants with trauma or find fitting solutions (for example living in houses instead of tents).


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