Staff Spotlight: Jess Barber

Where are you from and how did you hear about Petra?

I’m originally from a small town in New York named Walton, but I’ve lived in Potsdam, NY, Glens Falls, NY, and I spent a few years living in Chicago.  I first heard about Petra when I was working at a climbing gym in Queensbury, New York.

Where do you go to school/ what do you study?

I currently go to school at Northern Vermont University in Johnson.  I’m about to finish my bachelors degree in Outdoor Education with a concentration in Management and Administration. I also have an Associates Degree in Adventure Sports Management from SUNY Adirondack. 

What is your role at the gym?

I am the Assistant Camp Director for the Petra SumMAT camp programs to fulfill an internship for my degree. Essentially, I’m here to make Cate’s life (the director) easier and gain experience in an administrative role. 

What is your favorite part about camp? And favorite game/activity?  

My favorite part of camp is seeing kids push their limits.  I spend a lot of time in the gym so I see the kids run through the ropes course and it’s awesome to see kids who might be a bit more uncomfortable on the course power through and come down with no regrets.

My favorite game right now is one I learned not so long ago from some campers.  The game is called elimination. What happens is you pick a route in the gym and you climb it.  You pick a hold that you didn’t use when you climbed the route, put a piece of tape on it, and now that hold can no longer be used to climb the route.  We made a pretty technical and challenging climb and it was cool to see the campers problem solve to make the route go. 

Do you have a fun fact that many of our members and staff don't know?

I’ve been playing violin for almost 20 years.  I definitely play less frequently now but when I was 18 I was studying music education at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and realized I just like to play with people more than learning how to teach it..  I played around in some bands for a bit but now I primarily play guitar with a little violin on the side to stay fresh in my playing.  

What is your climbing background?

I started climbing in 2017 when I went to SUNY Adirondack.  As a kid I was always excited whenever I had the opportunity to climb on one of those portable rock walls.  When I found out I was able to take classes to learn the essentials on climbing outside, I dove right in.

If I’m not climbing (or it’s winter) I’m usually, hiking, running, canoeing, snowboarding, or backcountry skiing. 

Are you looking forward to anything particular for the rest of the summer?

I’m excited to just get outside as much as I can for the rest of the summer. I’ve picked up trail running this summer so I’m always excited to try a new trail or loop.