If you go

What: Slacking for Trees

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; competition starts around 2 p.m.

Where: Norlin Quad, CU Campus

Register and learn more by searching "Slacking for Trees" on Facebook

T he idea for Friday's Slacking for Trees event emerged one day when a group of University of Colorado-Boulder students were out slacklining and realized that "sometimes you have to hug a tree to set up a slackline," said junior Spencer Roberts.

"We were out at the park, and we were slacklining, and we were discussing how the simple act of setting up a slackline is celebrating trees," he said.

"So we thought it would be cool if slackliners could come together to celebrate trees."

The event on Friday, which starts at 10 a.m. on Norlin Quad -- with five or six slacklines and three pro slackliners -- is several things, say organizers. It's a chance for anyone to try slacklining and learn from some pro slackliners. It's a chance to see some crazy tricklining in the slacklining competition, in the afternoon. And it's a chance to learn about simple choices you can make that affect deforestation of tropical rain forests, says Roberts, and give to One Million Trees.

"All over the world, rainforests are being destroyed for slash and burn agriculture for things like palm oil, food products that we buy," Roberts said. "One of the big messages that we want to get out at this event, is that there's a lot we can do to minimize our impact and conserve those rainforests."


Roberts and his two roommates and fellow CU students, Travis Brown and Sam Straka, organized the event. Brown said they were surprised to get permission for the event, which was vetted and approved by the university's events-approval process.

"There have been problems with tree protection, stuff like that, on campus," Brown said. "When we first came up with this, we didn't really think we'd be able to get all the approval."

It helped that Straka was the president of CU's AIESEC chapter, which is sponsoring the event. (AIESEC is a global youth-leadership program that has dropped the original meaning of its acronym, which is in French and had a narrower scope than the organization has now.)

It also helped that right now, CU doesn't have a policy on slacklining, but one is in the works.

"At this point there's no campus-wide policy that applies to slacklining," said Commander Robert Axmacher of the CU Police Department.

"The direction the university took was to put this in the Rec Center's hands, as this is a recreational activity, to propose a slacklining policy for campus that would allow the activity with some reasonable restrictions," Axmacher said. "The Rec Center has drafted such a policy and subjmitted it to the CUUF (Committee on Use of University Facilities) committee... My understanding is that it's with that committee, under review."

In the meantime, Brown said he hopes Slacking for Trees also serves as a reminder to students to be good stewards of campus and use tree protection when setting up slacklines.

Since Brown works at Gibbon Slacklines, which has a Boulder office, he asked Gibbon to sponsor the event by bringing in some of their pro slackliners to both help people learn and to judge the competition, and to provide slacklines and Treewear, a product they make that they say protects trees, under all of the lines at the event.

Jaime Klinetob, of Gibbon, said Treewear is a felt wrap that goes around the tree before setting up the slackline.

"It protects the bark, prevents abrasion," she said, adding that they always recommend using tree protection.

Roberts added that through their charity, One Million Trees, plants a tree for every $3 received. So people who sign up for the slacklining competition, which is set to start around 2 p.m., will be planting three to five trees, depending on when they register on the event's Facebook page. Registration is $10 before the event, $15 the day of.

But anyone can come out to learn to slackline for free, he said, and while they're taking donations for One Million Trees, it's not required.

"Even if you don't have money to directly plant a tree, just come by and learn how you can preserve the rain forests in your daily life," Roberts said.