Tree planting is an exhilarating but difficult job, but it’s one that’s necessary for us to be able to do what we do: plant 10 trees for each item purchased. Many of our ambassadors, core supporters of our work, are tree planters themselves. We asked them 5 questions that we thought you would like to know the answers too, and they gladly obliged! Here’s what our veteran tree planter friends want you to know.
What is there to learn from tree planting?
Life isn’t always fair. When you’re out in the bush, you are more often than not dealt a bad hand. Your piece of land isn’t always going to be as good as ones your crewmates have and your crews block may be worse than other crews in camp. That’s just how life works. -Liv
I learned to really enjoy the little things in life. After being in a remote camp for a few months at a time, you really learn to appreciate simple things like WiFi and indoor plumbing. I learned how to travel light and go into outdoor settings (back country trips) prepared. I thought I knew before, but clearly in my greener year I brought far too much gear. I also learned how to really work hard. In tree planting, you only make as much money as you want to make. If you want to make a ton of money for school or travelling, you really have to put the effort in. You have to hold yourself accountable. -Mike
There are so many things that tree planting has taught me. It’s taught me that the limits I’ve set for myself are not my true limits, you can always plant more and withstand more. It’s taught me that your biggest super power is believing in yourself and making yourself get up each day. And finally, it’s taught me that no matter how many times you go back, it’s still one of the most mentally draining and hardest jobs a young worker could ever do. – Shayna
The best things happen out of your comfort zone. If you see a Moose, enjoy the moment. Bears will steal and eat your lunch. Beware of ground hives. If you have to go to the washroom, go where you’ve already planted, not where you’re headed. -Sarah
What was the best part about tree planting?
The best part is EASILY winding down with your friends. After a really hard day, or even shift it is so nice to just let loose with people who have been going through the same thing as you. -Liv
Aside from the money (once you get good at it), the best part of tree planting for me was the community planting created. On day one, you might know one or two people at best. By the end of the planting season, the other planters become your best friends. -Mike
The food. The people you meet. The sense of accomplishment you get at the end of each day, when you see the land you planted and you know how many trees you put in, and of course the parties and the days off. – Shayna
Meeting some of the best people & creating lifelong friendships. Animals – all the animals! Spontaneous dance parties. Being completely alone with your thoughts for 8 hours. Tent living is the most humbling experience. -Sarah
What was the worst part?
As funny as it sounds the worst part of tree planting is actually the fact that you have to be out there planting trees EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It doesn’t matter if its 5C and pouring rain or 35C and super dry, us planters are out there. -Liv
The worst part was also one of the best parts. The crazy conditions you face can be some of the worst parts of planting. The early season rain where you’re fighting to stay warm, or the crazy heat waves you’re trying to push through to get that PB. The conditions can be the worst part, but these conditions also shape who you become. They make you stronger and you learn to really appreciate the little things in life post planting, such as WiFi and indoor plumbing. -Mike
The bugs. The rain. The non-stop rain. The flooding tents. The wet clothes. The snow in June (this almost always happens at least in Ontario). The bad land. And everything in between. -Shayna
Bugs. Blackflies are the enemy. Find a bug spray or lotion that works for you and guard it with your life. -Sarah
Would you do it again?
Of course, I’ll go back! I’ve been planting already for three years and I couldn’t imagine my summers without it. Now, my best friends are the people who have been there with me from the bad blocks and horrible weather to the personal bests. The relationships I’ve made is why I’ll keep doing it. -Liv
I would do it again if I could! I have some health constraints that forced me to put away the shovel, but if the opportunity came up and conditions were right I would. I miss the people, the big paydays and overall feel of camp life. -Mike
Of course. The saying goes “Everyone loves tree planting, but no one likes planting trees.” It’s something that has shaped me into the person I am today. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made and the family I’ve formed. Plus the money makes it worth it. -Shayna
Yes. Yes. Yes. I planted for a summer 2012 and it was honestly the best summer of my life. The next summer I took the path of what was expected of me and didn’t return for another season. I still talk about this experience all the time and think about doing it again. -Sarah
What advice would you give future tree planters?
Cache breaks kill. If you are out there and you want to make money, keep your cache breaks as short as possible. It may not seem like you’re ‘caching’ for long or it may be super tempting to stay if you have a really bad piece. But when you’re ‘slutting’ the cache production is zero, and since production = $$$ that means no money. So get out there, work hard, and don’t take long cache breaks! You’ll be rewarded with a big fat pay check at the end of your season. -Liv
Go in prepared and do your research. It doesn’t matter how big you are, what your gender is, how strong you are. I’ve seen planters of all shapes and sizes succeed. The important thing is to go in mentally prepared. -Mike
If you believe you can do it you will. Don’t cheap out on your tent or sleeping bag. Being comfortable and getting a good sleep is crucial. -Shayna
It’s going to be a lot of hard work and long days. Don’t be discouraged by the monster numbers that vets put up. Tree planting is a skill, you get better every time. If you’re on the fence about going, just do it. The money’s not too bad either! -Sarah