Christmas Tree Shortage Affects ‘Wilderness’

What has been a holiday tradition for many families in Jackson and surrounding counties is not going to be available this Christmas season.

The Wilderness Christian Camp will not be able to sell Christmas trees this year, according to Founder and Director Jason Perlak. The tree lot in Ripley has been a popular fundraiser for the facility for the past 14 years.

The Wilderness is a high-adventure youth camp aimed at helping young people focus on character-building. Campers arrive at the Aplin Ridge facility from destinations across America.

“The tree sales have become an annual tradition, but there is a tree shortage all up and down the East Coast this year,” Perlak explained. “We recognize that the community has supported us faithfully for years. Our goal is to be back next year and the Lord willing, we’ll be selling trees again next year.”

Insect blight is rampant this year and the end result is a shortage of the popular Fraser fir trees and many other species. Insects have been eating the trees, causing them to brown and eventually die. Sold trees could then bring those insects into the various homes.

“We have been selling approximately 600 trees from the lot in Ripley,” the evangelist continued. “We don’t want our loyal customers to be caught off-guard, so we’re getting the word out now.”

With fewer trees available, the financial law of supply and demand is blatantly apparent, says Perlak. Forest fires in the Smokey Mountain region further compounded the shortage.

“Wholesale costs this season are going to be higher than the typical retail costs,” he said. “It is going to be considerably more expensive to purchase the trees that are going to be available.”

Perlak says the camp has been generously supported through the years by those who have purchased trees or simply made donations. The Wilderness Christian Camp experiences include rock climbing, canoeing and repelling in a Christ-centered atmosphere.

“Those who choose to make donations to our camp scholarship fund may do so,” he noted. “Information is available on our website at TheWildernessCamp.com.”