Continuing education units (CEUs) in recreational tree climbing were offered for the first time Nov. 6 to participants in the annual Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) conference and training workshop at Jekyll Island in coastal Georgia. More than 25 recreation and parks officials from cities and counties across the state got CEU credits for attending the tree-climbing workshop.
Joe and I were invited to put on the three-hour workshop by the two outdoor-adventure program directors from our local countys recreation and parks department. These are the same two program directors who have worked with us for the past 20 months on various youth and adult climbing programs and classes, including our popular summer camp climbing adventures for kids and teenagers. They also explained to other conference participants how the climbing adventures have fit into their recreation programs.
Every participant in the workshop got off the ground for short climbs, and several managed to go up a second time. Contact information was exchanged between us and the participants, along with a brief question-and-answer session.
This years GRPA conference and workshops started Tuesday morning and was scheduled to end Saturday afternoon. We used the Tidelands Nature Center, a state-run educational and teaching facility near the south end of the resort island that provides both woodlands and saltwater programs.
The island was once owned by the Rockefeller family and several large mansions have been preserved as museums. It is now owned by the state of Georgia as a tourism and convention center, and is connected to the city of Brunswick by a five-mile causeway across the salt marshes. It has nearly 10 miles of beaches, and half the island has been left in a natural setting that includes centuries-old live oaks and coastal pines.
Joe and I arrived Monday afternoon to set up. Tidelands officials gave us full use of their educational forest and quickly led us to two gigantic live oaks that we named Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Despite large numbers of sand gnats and mosquitoes that made our venture into the thick coastal forest a little difficult, and the saw-tooth palmettos that snagged our throw lines, we managed to climb the trees before dark Monday to remove any hazards. Six haul lines were installed for the next mornings workshop and climb.
We returned at dawn to finish setting up, with large quantities of insect repellent on hand. After a few moments, the mosquitoes and sand gnats got the message and left us alone for the rest of the successful morning. We have already offered to conduct the workshop again next year.