I've just never understood why so many people freak out over black bears. Now if it was a grizzly I might understand it. I have some experience with bears having worked and lived in Yellowstone for five years. As far as lying down and playing dead goes my advice would be don't do that. Your best bet is to face the bear and slowly walk backwards while facing the bear. I'm talking grizzly bear here. Best not to run but that's what I would do rather than play dead. As far as climbing a tree goes you won't have time to get high enough. We had a female ranger loose about 7 pounds right out of her hind end while climbing a tree. The way you tell if it's a grizz or black after you is if it's a grizz he will just knock the tree down with you in it while a black will climb up after you. A grizz can't climb a tree. In actuality a black wouldn't waste his time coming up a tree after a human since they are as afraid of you as you are of them.
I live on the central Oregon coast and we have bazillions of black bear around here. I was sitting on the front deck this summer when a small back walked right in front of the deck and climbed a tree after my bird feeders. I have the feeders suspended on a cable with a pulley on each end between the house and garage. I told the bear to get down out of the tree but he just ignored me so I drug out the leaf blower and he came down and took off. A 300 pounder ventured into the yard and the siamese cat scared him off. Actually I'm about half scared of that siamese cat myself having been shredded a few times.
James based on the above it seems that you do have some experience and close encounters with wildlife, and you learned that a bit of "noise + leaf blower" will scare most black bears away. (like I mentioned in my post I came really close to this black, and blasted my dual PIAA's horns a couple of times, and he didn't even blink, maybe I should carry my gas leaf blower
) but for an average city raised person without the experience like yours, it is not unusual to freak out over a "wild animal" that can shred a human body to pieces, yes grizzly is more powerful, but don't fool yourself black bears are not less dangerous, especially when protecting their cubs, black bears are just smaller and it will take them a few minutes longer, it is "wrong" to assume humans should not fear and respect wild animals, especially animals with such immense bone crushing jaws and physical power and presence IMHO. Over time wild animals got pushed closer and closer to areas where humans live, and somewhat integrated themselves with humans, and sadly accidents happen for one reason or another and then wildlife authorities kill the animal, like that will fix the problem
I don't agree we should teach our children that bears are killing machines, but it's a good idea to teach them awareness and teach them that bears are still wild, dangerous and unpredictable animals. Some people may think otherwise and I respect that, I am sure Lion and tiger trainers and marine biologist swimming with great white sharks may think otherwise, but for the rest of us city slickers it's always better to "freak out" and keep distance, just in case, that way we won't become a statistic number and a part of this partial list of bear attack casualties in The Americas:
p.s. to put the above in perspective, next time you get shredded by your trusted cat, think what if she was 20-30 times the size with 3-4 inch claws
(and this is just for the argument sake, of course I don't wish you (or anybody else) to get hurt in anyway