If you live in the valley, there many options for obtaining a Christmas tree. You don’t have to travel far to cut a fresh one. But, if cutting one isn’t up your alley and you live in Snoqualmie, chances are you’ve purchased one on the corner of Snoqualmie Parkway and Railroad Ave at the Snoqualmie Valley Venturing Crew’s annual Christmas Tree lot.
But do you know this Venturing Crew? Who they are? What they’re about?
Snoqualmie Valley Venturing Crew 115 was founded 25 years ago by Kim and Anita Ferree, “volunteers extraordinaire” with 40 years of venturing/exploring experience that are a way of life for their family. Venturing (formerly exploring) Crews are the teenage, coed division of scouting for youth ages 14-21.
Founder Kim Ferree says each Crew has its own specialty and flavor. In the case of crew 115, they specialize in outdoor high adventure with a focus on team AND hard work. With the venturing crew, members experience types of adventures they most likely wouldn’t get with their families.
Crew 115 started in 1987, long before Snoqualmie Ridge was built. Their first meetings were held at the old fire hall, now where city hall stands. Their first Christmas trees were sold on a Bellevue lot 25 years ago, When the Ridge was developed, they decided to move the lot home and landed at their current Snoqualmie corner location 10 years ago.
Kim says although the crew’s Christmas Tree lot proceeds (about $24,000 last year) fund most of the group’s equipment, trips and activities, it goes deeper than that. He says, “The tree lot is what bonds us as a group. It challenges our leadership and teaches many aspects of life to our youth, especially teamwork and work ethic.”
Venturing Crew 115’s lot has become a community tradition, and not just in the Snoqualmie Valley. The crew has regular customers who travel from far away just to buy their Christmas tree at the lot. Kim says he thinks his crew’s lot is the biggest non-profit Christmas tree lot in Western Washington, selling 1,200 (all USDA grade #1 premium) trees each holiday season.
Venture Crew mom, Jennifer Larson, says the tree lot is a complex business, chiefly run by the teens and experienced young adults. Members deal with purchasing, marketing, setup/display, pricing, inventory control, transport, delivery, security, personnel and cash management, sales and customer service. It takes a lot of work and planning.
Over the years, the tree lot has helped purchase 24 snowmobiles used for winter camping trips (in the cold and snow) and the materials used to build 10 Pygmy sea kayaks (built by group members) used for their annual San Juan Islands Kayaks adventure.
The crew also has an annual Coast Hike. For all of these adventure members are expected to immerse themselves in planning and coordinating the highly complex logistics of equipment, transportation, food, fuel, safety, training and execution.
2012 Tree Lot Info
The Snoqualmie Valley Venture Crew’s tree lot is now open every day until 9PM (7PM on Sundays) until we reach Christmas. The trees arrived yesterday as they opened for their 2012 season.
Each Sunday morning you will find Santa at the lot serving up a free pancake breakfast for customers. You can also support Boy Scout Troop 115, who sells the wreaths and garland available on site. Oh, and they’ll also deliver for you and because they are non-profit there’s no sales tax either.
Having the tree lot on this corner is one of my favorite valley holiday traditions. I love the Christmas lights illuminating the busy corner when it’s dark out by 4:45PM. Crew members are always helpful once my family FINALLY (it’s never quick) decides on a tree. There’s hot cider, candy canes… and just the tradition of driving “to the corner lot” (as my kids call it) and bringing home a tree.
My youngest child was born one week before Christmas and one month after moving to Snoqualmie 11 years ago. This Christmas Tree lot chronicles our years in the valley, as it settled in Snoqualmie right about the time we did.
Thanks Venture Crew 115 for the trees and the memories! And if you could make it snow again on the day we come to get our tree, that would be great. That’s my favorite tree lot memory. What’s yours?