Most people think that climbing trees is a naughty childhood game. But rock-climbing is a serious sport and is seen as healthy, so why not tree- climbing? In fact, tree-climbing is gaining popularity as a sport around the world. In Hong Kong, Fung Kai No. 1 Secondary School set up its tree-climbing team in 2006. The number of members has jumped from 10 at the beginning to 18. The school held its second Tree Climbing Jamboree Day last Sunday. It attracted lots of people who travelled to Sheung Shui to learn more about the sport. 'After a year of practice, some team members have learned more advanced tree-climbing techniques, such as the 'body thrust' and the 'secured foot lock',' says coach Thomas Chow. Safety precautions are taken very seriously. 'Our equipment is all imported from US and safety is the most important,' says Chow. 'Our team was formed almost two years ago but we've never had an accident, not even a minor one.' Every climber is equipped with a harness, a helmet and ropes. Some parents worry, but when they see their child climbing a tree, their concern usually turns to pride. Leung Sin-yee is one of three girls in the team. 'I joined out of curiosity. Tree-climbing is a new and exciting challenge for me,' says the Form Four student. 'At the beginning, I was nervous, especially when I walked on the branches. Later on, I overcame my fear and now every time I climb up a tree I don't want to come down!' The 15-year-old is very impressed by the scene at the top. 'The view is brilliant. With a cool breeze blowing, it's a very comfortable place to be.' Koon Shing-kwong, another Form Four student, also joined the team out of curiosity but has seen real benefits. 'My physique has really developed since I joined.' Shing-kwong says. The two young climbers are currently learning more complicated climbing methods. 'My interest in tree-climbing is growing and I want to turn it into a full-time career,' Shing-kwong says. This is not an unrealistic ambition. According to coach Chow, three of his tree-climbing students who have graduated work on tree preservation at a golf course in Tai Po. Tree climbers can definitely turn their hobby into an occupation. The climbers learn a lot about trees and that knowledge can be used to their benefit. They can work as pruners trimming overgrown trees or they can work on preservation as part of looking after the natural habitat. Tree preservation is now part of the curriculum at Fung Kai No. 1 Secondary School. 'Tree-climbers need to learn about the different species and how to take care of them,' says Chow. Former student Lee Kai-wan joined the team two years ago. He frequently comes back to the school to practise and to assist in teaching. 'Tree-climbing looks easy but it's hard to master. It gives me a target in life. I'm planning to take the certified arborist and tree skills evaluator examinations. Then I want to set up my own tree preservation company,' says the 19-year-old. 'The students are more confident, self-disciplined and capable of concentration after they become tree-climbers,' says Chow. 'I hope tree-climbing will become more popular and develop like rock- climbing has in Hong Kong.'