When I started going to tunnel events in NorCal, I was a brat.
As a 100 Jump Wonder, I was so entitled and smug about my own skills. I wanted to go to a 4way scrambles event. I believed I had a right to do so.
However, the organizer (wisely) told me I needed to fly at a 3way event first. After that, I was told I needed to get some coaching from a few experienced belly flyers before I was allowed to do 4way scrambles. I was so peeved at this event organizer. Who was she to tell ME that I wasn’t good enough?
How Things Have Changed
Now that I am in her shoes, I completely understand. I’ve been organizing tunnel events for a year. I’ve load organized all season at Orange Skies and at a couple boogies. I’ve herded cats. I’ve herded herds of cats. So here are a few things that your event organizers want from you and want you to know.
1. Be on Time
Please be on time. If you’re new or don’t know what to expect, be early.
Usually, events start with announcements and other pertinent event and safety information. If you are late, your event organizer will have to take the time to repeat it the information just for you. Don’t be inconsiderate of their time.
If you are on a team for an event, you are likely holding up your teammates from preparing. This means that they, and you, might not get adequate time to walk or creep the dives. People spend a lot of money to jump out of planes and fly in the tunnel. Respect your teammates time and money by making sure you all have time to prepare which will make the most of our precious tunnel/air time.
What if the time of the event is a bad time for you regularly? Tell the organizer! Maybe it’s bad for a lot of people and the event organizer simply doesn’t know. Organizers want people to show up; they will do what they can to make events more successful and better attended.
2. Don’t flake
Skydivers are not interchangeable parts. The event organizer has spent time and energy pairing you up with a flying partner that is a good fit for you and them. If you RSVP’d, they are expecting you to show up. There’s nothing more disruptive for an event organizer who is trying to run a good event than having to be on their phone, desperately texting or calling to either see if you’re coming or to find a replacement for you.
3. Read the emails
Your event organizer spends their own personal time and energy setting up events. They send out invites, create RSVP forms, select times and dates, pair up teams, coordinate with the tunnel or DZ staff, organize payment, and write emails to communicate about all the minutiae that goes into an event. They put in hours behind the scenes for every event simply for the love of the game. They are not making any money out of these events. Respect their time and energy by reading the emails. Follow up with questions as soon as you can. No event organizer likes being called with event questions that were very clearly answered in the email on their drive to the tunnel .
What if you notice that the event organizer is regularly leaving out information from the emails? Please let them know! I aim to be as comprehensive as I can when I send out emails but I am only human. I’m still figuring things out. Your feedback is infinitely helpful.
4. Read the fucking emails
I shouldn’t have to write this twice, but I do.
5. Be honest, aware and humble about your skill levels
Do not be like me, when I started tunnel events. Do not go in with an inflated view of your skills and be offended when the organizer either says no or says they need to fly with you first. Do not have the attitude of a 100 Jump Wonder.
Please understand that the event organizer is not trying to insult you. Their focus is the success and safety of the entire event. If they do not know you, they rely on you to be honest about your skill level. With that, they also rely on you to be aware of where your skill level actually is. If they request that you do a getting-to-know-you flight or some coaching beforehand, don’t get offended. They know that it can be hard for you to truly know what your abilities are if you are a newer flyer. They need to be able to assess your skills so they can find the right teammates for you.
I have learned this lesson the hard way; I have taken peoples’ assessment of their own skills at face value and let them into events, only to bear witness to some truly awful carnage. I feel personally responsible for every failed burble hop that ends up in a smash on the net and every out-of-control 360 that results in a kick to the face. I need to know that you’ll be safe in the tunnel and that your teammates are getting a teammate they deserve.
6. Pay without many reminders
Please, please, pay in a timely fashion. Your event organizer pays for the tunnel time out of their own pocket. They swallow huge credit card bills so that you can enjoy paying in $30-$60 dollar increments. Pay them promptly without the need for them to remind you. Also, please don’t pay me in cash. At each event, I am trying to manage a dozen different payments, as well as all the other logistics. I rely on that electronic record so my brain doesn’t have to remember. Please, pay on time, without reminders.
Ugh. Tamara. Stop whining. Why do you even bother organizing these events if all you do is complain about organizing them?
I love organizing these events. I love knowing that I’m make a difference in the belly community in Colorado. It is a huge payback to see peoples’ skills improve and to see new friendships being made. I really, really appreciate everyone who shows up to my events. It gives me the warm fuzzies to feel supported.
Finally, I’m aware that I’m probably preaching to the choir. If you are reading this, you probably are the exception, not the rule, and you’re probably the ideal event attendee. But! If you already are the ideal event attendee, maybe you can pass this on to your friends. Or pass this post on to new jumpers so that they have an idea of what is expected of them at events. Because there’s nothing better than when the event organizer likes you 🙂
^^^ More pictures of when I was a brat in NorCal, because why not. This is my blog, damn it. ^^^