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With ever-more exciting national, world and sequential records planned, now is a great time to brush up on your big-way techniques, or add them to your skill set. Try a big-way camp.
A big-way camp (BWC), is the outdoor equivalent of a tunnel camp. It is run over 3-5 days and covers every aspect of big-way flying: exits from base, left and right trail; floating; diving; stadium set-up; approach; docking; flying the formation; tracking teams; canopy safety; teamwork; improvement. Participants try everywhere it’s possible to go, from superfloater on the lead aircraft to last diver in the left trail plane. It can be really fun to go places your body shape never took you before!
Each jump is thoroughly briefed and debriefed with video, in a ‘no-fault environment’, which means that you are encouraged to get out of your comfort zone – stop a bit later, wear a tighter suit or go last diver when normally that would scare you shitless! The camps will push you as hard as you are prepared to push yourself.
If you’ve ever wondered what exactly the last divers do to arrive at the formation, or how you float from the fifth plane in formation, then a big-way camp will teach you just that. So much is taught in tunnels now that many skydivers who have great body positions and excellent flying skills, do not have experience of building and flying 20-ways and 40-ways. How do you learn these skills? At a big-way camp. They are open to participants with as little as 150 jumps and are the perfect place to get your big-way feet wet.
If you are one of lucky invitees for an invitational event, you owe it to your fellow teammates to turn up current with big-ways and with safe, rehearsed canopy skills. The training skydives at the event are designed to make the particular record happen, not for you or anyone else to brush off the rust. Even if you’re a previous world record holder, ask yourself when was the last time you did this size of stuff, and is it time for a refresher? Remember there will be hoards of, current up-and-coming talent around, all hungry for your slot!
Camps are run all around the world, including by yours truly, so you can take your pick of events. But, in my opinion, nowhere does it better than the P3 camps at Skydive Perris. Dan BC, Kate Cooper-Jensen and Tony Domenico invented the concept of big-way camps, so they have been doing it longer than anyone else and have it down to a fine art. Their pilots fly in very tight formation, and they have the communication with the aircraft nailed so you don’t get what used to be obligatory on a formation event – those jumps that are wasted because of an exit feck-up.
Their coaches are all legends in their own right – the above plus Larry Henderson, Doug Forth & Tom Jenkins. The weather is generally hot and sunny – the only problem ism it can be too hot, forcing you into the swimming pool to cool off between jumps! The camps have an eclectic mix of ages, experience, nationalities and personalities – for sure you will be entertained and make some new friends. It will also open up new doors. The big-way scene is a community, and this is your introduction to that happy band of skydivers, making connections that will spawn friendships, invitations to events, and offers of bed space the other side of the planet.
Oh, and you will laugh. A lot.
A couple of ‘thank-you’ emails received after the P3 camps:
“First the organizers! They were awesome!!! Absolutely great dudes! Accessible, fun, detailed, concerned about our learning curve, critical in many details on dirt dives and so on. It was pretty much amazing all 4 days of the Big Way Camp and you people have put together a perfect clinic! I am pleased to be taught by such good people and now good friends. As Dan pointed out at the beginning of the Big Way Camp, we are a small and strong community like no other we know. The clinic proved we also have Big Brothers caring for us. This was awesome and touching!”
Ricardo Contel, Brazil
“I made several mistakes, was afraid of some people, was afraid of myself too… but I´ve learned a lot! I was doing my best to do my job in the Camps. Those techniques taught by you really work, and we´ve got to keep practicing them to make the big formations happen. I´ve experienced some things in those Camps that we can´t find in the DZs I´ve been to. Not only in skydiving skills, but also in living attitudes and states of mind.”
Robert Kluppel, Brazil
The dates of the 2016 P3 Big Way Camp are May 4-7. There is a 100-way camp just afterwards, May 11-14, which is where you start to really build some cool formations, many years they do a bunch of back-to-back complete 100-ways! Yay, 100-ways! The 100-way camp is invitational so features a high standard of jumper, but all big-way camp participants are ‘provisionally invited’ on the 100-way camp, as the organizers are confident in their coaching system. Best to plan a holiday that includes both – or even factor in the invitational Spring Fling (18-21 May) if you’re feeling full of talent! If you’re good enough to make these very special dives (as pictured in this article), then you will be invited. Strutting your stuff on these events in front of Dan BC and Co is the first step to an invite on the coveted P3 Power Play event in June (22-25th), with the most challenging dives of the year over Skydive Perris.
Wherever in the world you are, whether high or low experience, a big-way camp will always tick the boxes. And – just my opinion – the boxes are ticked the best way at P3.
More information and registration here, where you can also see the crème de la crème events – Spring Fling and Power Play whose hallowed doors could be opened by the P3 big-way camp!
Note, the photos within this article are from P3's Power Play and Spring Fling events, featuring special formations like the 'Perris Wheel', the 'Tyrannosaurus Rex' and the “Perris Bikini'. They are not from the big-way camps but show what cool fun you can have in the big-way world. This high skill level is accessible by training, just like in 4-way (but a lot cheaper!)