How to Build a Rope Swing at the Lake Without a Tree

One day at the lake

Entertaining children can be as simple as entertaining yourself and letting them hang with you. Kids don’t have our resources, or abilities, but they do have great imaginations. If you simply combine everyone’s ideas, skills and money, who knows what you can come up with. One day camping at Timothy Lake my son said let’s build a rope swing to swing out over the water. I thought, great all we need is a long rope and a leaning tree over deep water and you got it. (Travel itineraries, advice, discounts, articles, may be read at TripTalkusa ) The rope was no problem since I was in the habit of bringing everything including the kitchen sink with us camping. The leaning tree posed a problem since the lake has no leaning trees. We took our little 12 foot aluminum boat across the lake to find a tree we could bring back. On this discreet cloak and dagger mission was an adult (questionable) an 8 year old and a 5 year old, a tippy Sears and Roebucks rowboat with a 2hp outboard, a small but razor sharp survival saw and a bunch or rope and twine.

We crossed the lake to an area I figured would have no people, (because I wasn’t sure what I had in mind was approved) went ashore into the woods and found a stand of trees that were very tall and slender. I selected a tree about 3-4 inches in diameter and proceeded to cut it down, except it wouldn’t fall because all the trees around it prevented gravity from doing its job. Finally, after much pushing and shoving my accomplices and I were able to get three nice clean limbless poles to the edge of the water. We readied the skiff to be a tug boat and slid our raft of logs into the lake only to discover that we had cut down Hemlock Trees and they don’t float. There we were with three fine twenty foot poles all tied up into a log raft sitting on the bottom of the lake.

Even though this seemed like the end of the caper it was not. Our little 2 hp was able to pull the raft, and as long as we kept moving forward the raft stayed near the surface. When we slowed it would sink and hang from our tow rope. This actually worked to our advantage because no one could see what we were up to, and if caught or questioned, I would simply release the line letting our contraband sink to its watery grave. Motoring across the lake dragging submerged trees with a 2hp motor seemed to take forever, and I was sure we were being watched. When we neared our water front campsite we ran the boat right into shore and our illicit payload settled on the bottom in 18 inches of water. So far so good, no one knows anything, we simply found logs along the shore. That is my story. Just don’t talk to my kids, they have wild imaginations and tell crazy stories. After letting the dust settle, so to speak the boys and I arranged our three poles (still in the water) into the shape of a big letter A. Then using lots of twine we securely lashed the three points where the poles crossed. That means a third grader with the help of a younger brother tied it together using knots never before discovered. Next we maneuvered our non floating wood A-frame into deeper water where it was glad to stay submerged. The final step was to tie a rope to the tip top of the A-frame and bring it ashore to a secure anchor tree. We then hoisted the top of the A-frame up out of the water and tied it off leaving the A-frame standing up at an angle with a short piece of rope dangling from the top. The kids could now stand on the A’s cross bar and swing out. The rope swing proved to be a huge success and the kids played all week. The poles were not strong enough for an adult’s weight and would bend when I hung on the rope. When we broke camp to go home later in the week we towed the poles to a ten foot deep spot and sunk them to the bottom planning to retrieve them and resurrect the A-frame the next summer. The author has more articles at triptalkusa

John 2010