Coaches and participants group photo in front of Dornier 28

Jacky’s classroom talk: Have you heard of the “Explore Sky ´n´ Tunnel Camp”?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A new skills-camp-dimension, made in Germany

In August 2018, Germany´s first combined Sky´n´Tunnel Camp took place at Skydive Soest and Indoor Skydiving Bottrop.

CYPRES-roadtour-lady Jacky sat down with the coaches Dominic Leser (NON-Standard), Paul Barberis (Fenlabizz’), Sebastian Igel and the organizers Andreas Riekes and Biggi Knobloch. They talked about a totally new skills-camp dimension that combines tunnel- and “real” skydive-training in one camp.

Jacky: How did you get the idea of setting up a skills-camp that combines freefly-tunnel training and „real“ skydiving? Do any similar events already exist, that inspired you?

Andreas: During the last years, Biggi and me have taken part in many boogies, skills camps and LOs. We experienced that many jumpers (including us), especially new ones that are keen on improving their skills and learning new things, travel from event to event or join them at their local dropzone. This is quite expensive and certainly costs a lot of precious time. Unfortunately, it happens that they find jam-packed or chaotic LOs and you can imagine that there’s not much of a learning effect from these kinds of events. So it’s quite frustrating to spend time and money on them.

Inspired by some high-class-skillscamps all over Europe, we wanted to provide a high-quality event as well. And to add even more value to it, we expanded it with the tunnel-module.

The challenge

Jacky: Sounds challenging! There hasn’t been a camp like this before. So I suppose, you had to put much effort into the planning and organizing. How long did the preparation take and what was the biggest challenge with organizing the event?

Biggi: The preparation started straight after we had the idea, which was in the beginning of 2018.
In March, the event was published and scheduled for August 20 to 25.
It turned out that the biggest challenge actually was to find and keep the scheduled date.
As in Germany we have a main skydive season of only 7 months from April to October, you can imagine that there are many events taking part in this time. Additionally, not all the people that were interested to join the camp managed to get some days off in August. But step by step, the slots were booked and our worries vanished!

Andreas: Moreover, it’s an enormous financial effort to set up an event like this. It was not intended to earn money out of this camp, so to keep the costs and therefore the camp-fee low and the quality high, we had to really consider every spent Euro carefully.

At this point, we want to thank CYPRES for supporting us with the sponsoring of our camp-shirts and some nice giveaways for all the participants!

Jacky: You’re welcome! We believe that high-quality skills camps are not only great fun and a good way to improve every skydiver’s freefall skills in various ways, but they offer also great opportunities to increase safety awareness from gearing up to landing safely.

Speaking of safety: Has this been an issue during the camp and did you experience that a camp like yours can contribute skydiving safety in general?

Does a camp like this contribute skydiving safety?

Dominic: Yes of course! Especially in briefings and debriefings, we focused on safety aspects. We know that different freefall rates, incorrect approaches, lack of separation or other false estimations are the source of sometimes fatal accidents. So as coaches, we addressed these critical aspects carefully in our briefings, and we especially kept an eye on the younger and inexperienced jumpers. This way smaller mistakes or misunderstandings could be cleared, and we had a very safe and accident-free camp.

Paul: That’s true! Particularly, the elaborated briefings and discussions have sensitized all the participants to better awareness for altitude, approach and separation. But of course we also talked about the canopy-flight-part, landing patterns and wind conditions.
Furthermore, it’s always a benefit to bring experienced and less experienced people together, so they can learn from each other.

Jacky: This is a perfect crossover to my next question: You had 14 participants and 3 coaches. Can you tell us a bit more about them? And if you look back, do you think this was a good combination?

Andreas: Absolutely! We were lucky to have Paul Barberis, tunnel- and freefly coach from Lyon, Dominic Leser from the well-known NON-Standard-Team and Sebastian Igel, freefly coach and genius cameraflyer from skydive Soest. This constellation worked out perfectly!

All the coaches did a great job and were showered with compliments by the participants.

It’s all in the mix

Sebastian: To guarantee small groups with maximum learning effects, it has been a good mixture with  a great diversity in the 14 participants. The range went from the enthusiastic beginner that only knew the basics up to the highly skilled skydiver with more than 3000 jumps and 20 years of skydiving experience. But they all had one thing in common: they were willing to learn and improve their skills.
From the coaches’ perspective, it wouldn’t have been a problem to have a few more participants. We could have coached another group easily. But to ensure maximum efficiency and a close and intensive supervision, this was a perfect constellation.

Biggi: And in case we have more subscribers for the next Explore – Sky´n´Tunnel Camp, we will have to engage more coaches. It’s simple as that!

Jacky: This really sounds promising! So to sum up the camp a bit more detailed, can you tell us more about the goals that you had set and if they were reached?

Andreas: Sure. The goal was, to enhance each jumper according to his or her individual wishes and interests. In our opinion, this can only be achieved by keeping the groups small; like 3-5 jumpers plus 1 coach, depending on the skills level.
All feedback we got from the participants was constantly positive and everyone actually made good progress. So yes, we all absolutely reached our goals!

What’s the benefit?

Jacky: Please tell us, what is so special about the combination of tunnel-training and „real“ skydiving-training?

Sebastian: We wanted to arrange the camp as exciting as possible for the participants.
Every jumper had the chance to mention his or her wishes and goals already with the subscription. They could chose from „headup“, „headdown“, „angleflying“ or mixed groups that combined all the disciplines. In the camp, we then worked on these different disciplines and formations.

Dominic: During the tunnel-module, coaches and participants got the chance to get to know each other, talk about goals and ways to work on them before traininig together under perfect conditions: More „freefall“ time, no distraction, no exit issues, no weather holds, no „escaping“ from the coaches eyes 😉 And the very next day we just took our training to the sky.

Paul: It was awesome to see the great progress everyone made because of this unique combination!

Future plans

Jacky: Well, it sounds like you all had a lot of fun and success! So this leads me to one last question: Are you going to set up a second edition of the Explore – Sky´n´Tunnel Camp? And if you do, when and where will be?

Biggi: Yes, we absolutely do want to set up a second edition in 2019! And it’s going to take part at Skydive Soest and Indoor Skydiving Bottrop again. We experienced great support and assistance from them. 

Hopefully, we will be able to proudly announce the date for 2019 by the end of the actual season!

Jacky: We look forward to catching up with you again afterwards then! Thank you all for your effort and of course for this interview. 

 

Want to have a look at  the 2018 camp video? Find it here: https://vimeo.com/286946087

Interested in joining the next Explore Sky´n´Tunnel Camp? Visit this year’s facebook eventpage: https://www.facebook.com/events/714629185600251/
or send an e-mail to explore.skillcamps@gmail.com

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