The Competition and Camaraderie of Tree Jam Camp
What It's All About
Another year, another Tree Jam Camp!! As someone who has attended it from its inception it's been awesome to watch the transition from a one day competition in a small Port Huron Park to a three day event at a beautiful beachside camp. What started as a fun and low key competition has gradually morphed over the years into a low key tree family reunion. Yes, it's still a competition of sorts, but that's not the main purpose. The main purpose of Tree Jam Camp always has been and always will be camaraderie.
Camaraderie: mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together.
This is a must in the tree climbing community. Taking a dangerous job and making it fun is no easy task. It requires you to put trust in your gear, along with the people who make it and sell it to you. You also must have trust in your crew and everyone in the air and on the ground, as well as trust in yourself that you will properly educate yourself on the dangers and amazing opportunities given to you from the tree world. Find good people, trust in them, make them your friends, and make sure you catch up with them at least once a year'at Tree Jam Camp.
A Diverse Community Comes Together
This year's Tree Jam Camp was super mellow. It was the perfect opportunity to hang out with my friends and compete without all the pressure that usually comes with a competition; rather than loud announcements, a tight time schedule, and lines nestled in the forest that you wait in while watching your friends from all over the world climb until it's your turn to enter the ring. Your friends might cheer you on, or they might heckle you'whatever you prefer, but it helps keep things simple. Walking into the ring doesn't feel like walking into a high pressure arena, it's more like taking your turn at climbing for the day while your crew watches, and at the end of the day they let you know what you can improve upon. The scoring isn't intimidating; it's simply just a reflection of what happened at that moment.
Climbs are available for all skill levels, from first time to pro level competitors. This year's TJC featured a huge Canadian contingency and most of them were female climbers, which was AWESOME to see! Watching both men and women dominate in the trees is what made this year even better'it was an opportunity to celebrate ALL climbers from all parts of the world!
Visiting with old friends around the campfires the night before events also helps ease the tension and allows you to learn so much in a very laid back setting. Climbers and business owners swap stories'good and bad, give advice, openly ask questions, or simply put all that aside for one night and just enjoy the company of others who share a common appreciation for nature, especially trees. At Tree Jam Camp you meet everyone from climbers, ground guys, tree service owners, and contract climbers, to plant health care professionals, educational speakers, recreational climbers, and so many more people from all walks of the tree world. The tree world is HUGE once you truly grasp its scope; it goes far past the lumberjack most people envision. In fact, that image couldn't be more removed from the reality of this community.
When attendees gather for the annual awards ceremony, you can always feel the community bond, which goes back to what the event is all about: not the winners or the gear that's won, but the celebration of each other and the accomplishments of the day, large and small! Taking home first place always feels good, but just participating and being a part of that group feels amazing and is acknowledged.
See You Next Year
I look forward to making more memories with this community! Live music, hammocks scattered throughout the woods, late night beach hang outs, cheering on my friends, cruising through the trees, big laughs, good stories, and better lessons learned. From the hard working people who put it on, big and small, obvious faces and unsung heroes, the judges, volunteers, sponsors, camp staff, and of course Bartlett'you guys can't be thanked enough. Tree Jam Camp isn't simply an event, it's a mood. A mood that I hope to keep up throughout the year until I see all of my people again next year!