Looking for a job this summer? Think about tree planting.

Angus Merry
Being a university student is tough, especially during the summer, when most of us aren’t actually studying.
For those of us who can’t find—or aren’t in the right faculties for—lucrative internships or experience-building research positions, the summer can be an outright slog, characterized by low pay, high work hours, and little personal or professional fulfilment.
With COVID-19 only adding more uncertainty to an already uncertain job market, finding something worthwhile this summer will be tough.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Although nowhere near a “perfect job,” tree planting ticks a lot of the boxes many of us are desperately looking for in our summer occupations. Good pay, fun times, and perhaps most importantly now, time spent away from COVID-19 and potential infection.
Let’s start with pay. At an overwhelming majority of companies in Canada, tree planting is piece work, meaning you get paid per tree you plant. Rather than an hourly wage, which sees you make the same amount of money regardless of your performance, as a tree planter, you’re incentivized to work hard. The harder you work, the more money you make.
In addition, the work atmosphere around tree planting camps is far deeper than any workplace you’d find in cities. For the duration of the season, you live in camps of 75 or more and work in crews of about 15. By living and working day in and day out together for three months, you get incredibly close with the people around you and enjoy the experience all the more.
Finally, tree planting can act as the perfect escape for those who just need a change of scenery. Maybe you’re tired of working inside or being in the same city, or you just need to get away from the stresses of early adulthood for a while. In any case, there’s no better way to recoup some peace of mind than by getting outdoors—even if it means doing so for three straight months.
As an added bonus, current tree planting camps, in accordance with COVID-19 safety precautions, have little exposure with the public. So, if you’ve become increasingly anxious over the past couple of months, know that taking a planting position would mean far less risk than working in a populated public area.
Of course, after listing the numerous positive aspects of tree planting, it should be noted there are innumerable negative ones too—among them repeated physical and mental exhaustion and constant exposure to the elements. But as any veteran planter will attest, these are crosses generally worth bearing for the overall experience tree planting affords you.
Angus is a fourth-year History student and The Journal’s Assistant Sports Editor.

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