How to Plan a Jam

Plan Your Own Parkour Jam

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By: Corndogg

Corndogg from San Fransisco Parkour (www.sfparkour.com ) wrote a fantastic article about Planning a Jam. It goes through the five major stages, and is a good read for newer traceurs planning jams and more experienced ones.

1) Choose a Location, Date and Time

Location

  • Where do you want the Jam to be? Pick a location that's fairly dense in obstacles, such as schools, colleges, business parks, playgrounds etc.
  • Make sure the location is group-friendly, i.e. security won't run you out and can support a group of people hanging around for a while.
  • Locations close to public transportation, and/or with easy parking will help lure others to your jam.
  • Nearby drinking fountains and bathrooms are a plus!

Date and Time

  • Pick a day and time! Just put a stake in the ground, and set a date and time. You can change this to accommodate peoples schedules after people start indicating interest.
  • Take the location into account - does it get crowded at certain times? Is school in session? Is it too hot during part of the day? Choose a reasonable time to start, leaving ~3+ hours for the jam.

Meeting Point

  • Establish an easy to find meeting spot. It should be easy to get to and find, with some kind of clear landmark.
  • Ideally meet near some obstacles so people can warmup while waiting for people to arrive, and hopefully near an area suitable for a group warmup once you begin.

Transportation

  • Try to help with transportation. Help list what public transportation is nearby, e.g. BART, CalTrain, Muni, bus lines, subway and train stops etc.
  • If possible, help others get organized in carpools, and let them know the best places to park nearby.

General Headcount

  • Find out who's going to the jam. It's nice to have people post if they're coming or not, so you can see if the location is appropriate, if anyone is even coming, and so you can wait for everyone to arrive before moving away from the meeting spot.


2) Post the Jam Info

Find a Forum

  • Find a local forum or message board! Search the internet for a message board or forum dedicated to your area. Post up all the information there, including times, dates, locations, and contact information. The more you advertise, the more people will see it and come. 
  • Also, even if people don't see the message in time, maybe they'll contact you days, weeks, or even months later! Things on the internet last a while, and you never know when a new traceur in your area will stumble across your contact information.


3) Meeting Up and Getting Started

Meet 'n Greet

  • Introduce yourselves! While waiting for people to arrive, be sure to introduce yourself and encourage others to do the same.
  • Try to wait at the meeting point for ~15-20 minutes after the start time, to allow everyone to filter in before you start jamming elsewhere.

Stashing Your Gear

  • People generally bring some gear, like a bag and water. Ideally you should keep this with you at all times, or close nearby to where you are practicing and jamming.
  • If you decide as a group to leave all of your gear together somewhere, make sure everyone keeps an eye on it. There's a lot of expensive cameras and other stuff that nobody wants stolen!

Warmup

  • We always recommend warming up, and this is a great activity to gather everyone together, do intros, and make sure people are properly warmed up before jamming.
  • There are warmup routines online (and SFPK will post one soon as well), but generally you want to run around a bit, do some dynamic stretching and movements, and get your body warm and loose before the jam.

 

4) During the Jam

Respect the Location

  • Respect the location! This means no vandalism, theft, trespassing, damage, littering etc. Nothing will get you kicked out faster, if not in trouble, than disrespecting the property.
  • Don't put too much stress on worn down or old obstacles. Wobbly rails, degrading wood objects, fragile pieces etc. should be avoided as much as possible to avoid more wear 'n tear.
  • Note that you are not only jamming, but are representing parkour as well. Nobody wants parkour portrayed as a "group of punks causing trouble" or locations getting closed down to any future visits. Let's not do anything to warrant a "No Parkour" sign being put up!

Safety

  • Stay safe, watching out for yourself and others. Please don't do anything to endanger yourself or others. Injuries suck! Know your limits, and know the risks. Look before you leap.
  • While everyone makes their own decisions during a jam, if you feel someone is overextending themselves and is trying something dangerous or unsafe, or you see they are too tired, dehydrated, etc. to practice safely, please say something! This includes pointing out a shaky, slippery or unstable landing area. A friendly reminder can do a lot of good.
  • If someone gets injured, help them out. If it's serious, go get help. Don't play the doctor. Always take injuries seriously.
  • Stay hydrated!

Dealing with Security/Police

  • Be "security friendly." Yelling while running around on rooftops will definitely draw attention to yourself, as will knocking garbage cans or obstacles over, moving tables around etc. Adhere to laws, and stay "off the radar" by not doing anything to attract security.
  • Don't argue with security or the police. Be calm, let them know what you are doing and see if its OK, noting that you are being respectful of the environment. But when it comes down to it, please listen to security/police, they are just doing their jobs.
  • If you are asked to leave, then the entire group should leave immediately. Trying to sneak away to another area is just going to piss them off more, and get you and the group in trouble.

Keeping the Group Together

  • Stay together as much as possible. While people may explore other areas and split into smaller groups, you don't want to leave the location entirely without making sure everyone in the group is also leaving, or knows that you are.

Helping Beginners

  • Remember that we all started off as a beginner, and learning from others is a great, easy way to ramp up quickly. So help beginners out if you can! It only takes a bit of time to get that person standing off to the side involved and started off, reviewing some basics on landings, vaults, jumps, balancing etc.
  • Take it nice and slow, and be encouraging. Who knows, it may be your efforts that adds a new, enthusiastic traceur to the community!
  • Try and separate off from the main group so you can focus and practice and drill on the basics, starting off on some low easy obstacles near grass if available.

Drills and Training

  • While just running around and jamming is a lot of fun, jams are also a great time to get together and run through drills with others. It's a good way to pick up tips, refine your own movements, learn new things and ultimately improve your own skills. You'll never be worse off by training, practice makes perfect!

Games: Follow-the-Leader etc

  • Mix things up! Gather the group together and get a game of tag going, or follow-the-leader. Follow-the-leader is a lot of fun, as someone leads the pack and everyone runs behind, trying the same movements or choosing their own lines around the same obstacles. After a while, the leader can drop to the back and another can lead instead.

 

5) End of Jam

Cooldown

  • People will leave the jam at different times, but if appropriate it's nice to gather together and do some cooldown exercises, like a nice easy jog and some stretching.

Cleanup

  • Respect the location, and "Leave No Trace". Clean up and throw away any garbage you left, and make sure everyone grabs their gear before leaving.

Group Discussion and Goodbyes

  • During or after the cooldown, sit and chat for a while! Trade tips, get to know the others, and discuss what you've learned during the jam.
  • Say your goodbyes, and let people know if you're leaving or staying so nobody gets left behind.

Recap

  • After the jam, come back to the forum and post a recap in your Jam Thread! Review how the jam went, any highlights, things to watch out for anyone else going to the location, or whatever else you'd like to share and remember.

 

Whew! It may seem like a lot, but organizing a Jam is actually very easy, and gets easier over time. If people aren't joining yet, have faith and be patient! Keep on trying, you'll get there. Parkour is still fairly new, so it may take a bit to really get things started. But essentially pick a good location and convenient date and time, work together and use common sense, be positive and remember to always HAVE FUN and you'll have a great jam!


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Written by Zachary Cohn   
Sunday, 14 September 2008 22:10
Last Updated on Saturday, 14 April 2012 13:35