Oliver’s treehouse: Father and son team up to build treehouse during pandemic

Posted 10/23/20

When schools closed down in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the extra time at home brought an exciting project for 8-year-old Oliver Muñoz: Building a treehouse.

“It’s …

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Oliver’s treehouse: Father and son team up to build treehouse during pandemic

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When schools closed down in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the extra time at home brought an exciting project for 8-year-old Oliver Muñoz: Building a treehouse.

“It’s like: Morning is for schoolwork but afternoons mean time with Dad and building the treehouse!” said Ashton Muñoz, Oliver’s mom.

The Muñoz family had just moved into a home in rural Powell in February, right before COVID-19 hit.

“Then everything happened in March,” Ashton said.

An apple tree in their new yard had a platform built into it and “we could see the potential right away,” she said.

Oliver helped his dad, Spencer Muñoz, take down the old platform, which was rotting.

“Oliver pretty much tore the whole thing down with a couple swings of a hammer,” Spencer said. “That’s the kind of shape it was in.”

Spencer designed a treehouse, built on a sturdy, new platform with a little porch and a walkway that extends to an adjacent apple tree.

“I built around the trees,” he explained. “I tried not to cut down any of the tree, because you want to keep that.”

A branch growing through one of the windows is a feature Oliver is quick to point out during a treehouse tour. This fall, the branches were full of apples, so Oliver could pick fruit to enjoy from his perch.

The treehouse also features a rock climbing wall, slide, staircase and rope ladder — multiple access points during a game of tag, Spencer noted. The Muñoz family put the finishing touches on the house earlier this month.

“It turned out awesome,” Oliver said proudly.

He likes to be able to hide away in the treehouse, his own special spot.

“The inside is my favorite, because of all the locks and the windows,” Oliver said.

One of the first things he added to the treehouse was a “No girls allowed” sign that applies to his older sister, Dacovney.

“It’s funny because our friends all have daughters so the kids who will play in it with Oliver will only be girls for the foreseeable future,” Ashton said.

She thinks the no-girls sign was mostly in support of the “‘dad and son’ experience of building the treehouse together.”

“Although I tell him that Mom is exempt as she is a woman and no such exclusions will ever apply to her as she gives life daily in the form of PB&Js and bedtime kisses,” Ashton said.

Another one of Oliver’s favorite features is a set of deer antlers — a gift from his uncle — that adorn the front of the treehouse. His parents expect many of the 8-year-old’s treasures will find a spot in the treehouse.

“He finds the most random things — a bottle cap, a rock,” she said. “There will be a place for it out here.”

Many kids dream of having their own treehouse, and both Ashton and Spencer wanted one when they were growing up.

“There was nothing cooler than having a treehouse in your backyard,” Ashton said.

Spencer lived in Yuma, Arizona, when he was a kid. In the hot weather, it’s common for kids to hang out around the trees there.

“Our equivalent to a treehouse was climbing the tree and nailing an old piece of plywood to it and then saying, ‘Well, that’s a treehouse,’” Spencer recalled of childhood days.

The treehouse he made for his son is much more elaborate and sturdy.

Spencer works for a truss company and also manufactures Titan sheds.

“I’ve been in construction all my life, so this is a cakewalk,” he said of the treehouse.

He used materials from the truss company that were leftover or had imperfections and would have been thrown away otherwise.

All of the play equipment — the slide, rock wall, rope ladder and extra swings — was given to the Muñoz family by friends who updated their own playhouse. Ashton’s grandpa gave them a hammock that hangs nearby.

Oliver enjoyed helping his dad with the project.

“That was the best time when we worked on it,” said Oliver, who is in the third grade at Parkside Elementary School.

During the shutdown in the spring, it became a daily activity for the father-and-son team, weather permitting.

“He’s really good at getting things when you’re in a tight spot,” Spencer said of Oliver. “When I was working on the roof and I needed stuff, he was the runner. It worked out really well.”

After a busy summer with work, Spencer finished the treehouse earlier this month, putting on shingles.

The hope is to install a bunk in the treehouse for summer campouts and run some lights out there.

The Muñoz family is also thankful for their home and backyard in the country.

“We lived in a tiny apartment with no yard in sight before this blessing of a house,” Ashton said. “He [Oliver] finally gets to be a kid and go outside any time he wants.”

While families in big cities have been quarantined in apartments with no outside space of their own in 2020, Oliver has enjoyed the outdoors.

“We’re just reminded every single day how lucky we are to live in Wyoming at this time,” Ashton said.

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