The unique game of Moon Trees has been exclusively available in Klimbos Veluwe since June. We interviewed venue manager Julian Schimmelpennink and asked him all sorts of questions: Why Moon Trees? What about the organisation of the game? And most important of all, what do the players think? Julian explains: “Adults in particular are taken aback by how fanatical they become during the game. Moon Trees really is a game for all ages.”

You are the first Moon Trees venue. What was it about the game that convinced you?

“A couple of years ago, an innovation team from Klimbos was looking into potential new activities. That’s how we found Springlab. Our management board and their management board came up with a format to market a new product. Klimbos Veluwe was going to be the test venue. Springlab’s vision is very much like our own; we’re both looking for ways to get people moving through experiences. In Klimbos, that experience mostly focuses on climbing the trees and being active in the great outdoors. Springlab also wants everyone, young and old, to exercise more. And they’ve achieved this by developing an active game that’s so exciting, the exercise comes all by itself.”

What makes Moon Trees so special?

“Even the biggest adult can be a child again. Everyone really gets totally absorbed by the game. It’s quite special how a relatively simple concept gets people so active. Even the adults that really don’t like running were seen racing through the woods. We played Moon Trees on a staff outing in June, and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen my colleagues run. From Moon Tree to Moon Tree. I was pleasantly surprised about how fanatical people get during the game. I think it’s because of the competitive element of the game. The fact that you’re very close together, that you’re time-bound, and that others can steal your Moon Trees. You want to win, don’t you? It’s only human. Sure, you can move at a snail’s pace but you’ll soon find out that you’re faster when you run.”

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What about the organisation of Moon Trees?

“The exciting and busy days have now started. I’m responsible for quality and safety in this park, for the staff and the day-to-day maintenance and management of Klimbos. In terms of Moon Trees, I’m mainly responsible for management and coordination. Groups can make a booking via the website. You can also buy at ticket at the entrance, but we prefer people to make a reservation. It’s convenient because that gives me enough time to schedule trained people to come into work for the game. We now have a team of ten staff members who can be deployed for both Klimbos and Moon Trees. Yesterday, a member of staff supervised a group during a game of Moon Trees and after that, she worked in Klimbos for a couple of hours. She really enjoyed the variety. With Moon Trees, you’re more involved compared to the Klimbos activity. In the case of Klimbos, we give instructions to groups but once they start climbing, they follow the routes independently. During Moon Trees, you’re fully engaged with that group throughout the game. Our members of staff supervise the game and give tips. They look to see what the players are doing, who’s lagging behind. We can then help them a bit to get going. The game’s designers also make sure we have a continuous running score on the large dashboard in the game area. This enables the teams to see who has the most points at a single glance. It makes the game even more dynamic.”

How do people who’ve played the game respond?

“Larger groups of eight to ten persons have responded particularly positive. They’re pleasantly surprised by the active game. What I really like is that adults in particular say they never expected to be running around through the woods like a madman trying to steal a couple of trees. They didn’t expect the game to get them going to the extent it does. Children are highly enthusiastic anyway, all they want is to go back and play another game. Bringing your own team to compete against is the most fun. You could bring your family or one or two families who are friends. It makes the competition even more exciting. Another fun aspect is that they can climb the trees at this venue. That’s an element visitors really enjoy. Apart from the fact that it’s an interactive game, you’ll find yourself at a height of five metres without noticing. It’s as if it’s part of the path. The responses are very good, the players really enjoy the experience.”

Who is Moon Trees intended for?

“Moon Trees can be played by a very wide target group, it really is a game for all ages. We’ve had a football team, an entire family and several families who competed against each other. Moon Trees is also ideal for school and staff outings. You can play the game with just four people (two teams of two members), but you can also play with up to seven teams. It’s more fun to keep the groups small, say, four per team.”

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How do you play the game?

“Everyone tries to play a tactical game in his own way. One team may decide that one member should stand next to Borag (one of the Moon Trees) and keep a couple of game cabinets occupied so all someone else has to do is check out new cabinets. Another popular technique is for teams to set a timer every two or three minutes, letting them know when they can start collecting raw materials from the Moon Trees. Different teams have their own tactics. So far, we’ve been using two methods of playing the game. The first is that we play brief games of twenty minutes. During the first game, they get an idea of how the game works, which enables them to be more tactical during the second game. The other option is to play a 45-minute game during which teams are given five minutes in advance to discuss tactics and to think about ways to use everyone’s strengths.”

How do you play it with children?

“If you play the game with children, we recommend doing it in steps. We start with a simple game and make it increasingly difficult and active as we go along. First, we explain the aim of the game and how they can conquer a Moon Tree for themselves. Then we start the game. They discover how they can conquer the trees and how the scoring works. The game ends after twenty minutes, and they are then told how they can steal each other’s trees and how they can deal with a game disaster such as an earthquake. During a disaster, Moon Trees go through their raw materials faster, so they need more. Moon Trees is suitable for children aged six or seven but it’s equally fun for sixteen or seventeen-year-olds. During the spring, we had a school group of that age bracket and they all went into the woods running, every single one of them. It’s quite special to see how a game of Moon Trees gets everyone so active.”

Feestelijke kick-off Moon Trees in Klimbos Veluwe

Would you like to become a Moon Trees venue? Please contact ciaran@moontrees.nl for more information.

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