The Windell’s Camp Adult Experience
16 Aug, 2009
It’s every kids dream to come to Windell’s Snowboard Camp; to be at the funnest place in the summer with snowboarding, skating and fun activities at your beck and call every second of the day. But what about adults who choose to come to camp? I set out to find out the adult experience at Windell’s Snowboard Camp, document it and make it known that adults can have just as much fun as the kids.
With our own house full of all the needed adult necessities (hot tub, pool table, snowboard movies to watch nonstop, fridge stocked with beer) plus an on-snow playground to play in each day, it was ideal for adult campers. We were away from the kids but had the opportunity to stay near the camp and partake in their activities if we wanted to. Adult campers had our own list of activities that included dinner nights, club nights, movie night, and plenty of hang out nights for the evenings off the snow.
Each day brought in a variety of activities: Day 1 was arrival and checking in, Day 2 was the first day on snow starting the progression process and getting familiar with the adult campers, Day 3 was cold in the beginning but offered up the basics to riding boxes that helped with the rest of camp and sushi dinner in the evening, Day 4 was the best day for halfpipe riding and airing out, Day 5 was taking pics of the jump line with our riders and getting more comfortable with the rails, Day 6 was when it all came together and my riding felt so much better on rails and Day 7 was the sad day of leaving the camp.
Windell’s had a busy summer with the adult sessions including session 7 which had a good amount of adult campers. We had 24 adult campers with the majority housed in the adult house near Windell’s Camp. The overflow adult room was in the main camp which was only there for sleeping time. I was in the overflow cabin with a bunch of the boys and I had my own bunk bed for me and my luggage.
The overflow cabin was pretty sweet for a couple reasons, we had 3 bathrooms so I never had to wait to shower after riding and breakfast was 2 minutes away for the morning and since it was away from the adult house I could sleep in quiet without any partying in the area. The adult house was a 2 minute walk so I spent most of the evening there and used the wifi to blog when I could.
As a single girl who lives in a resort town, it was the best food I’ve had in a while. Each day I woke up before 7am to get to the breakfast line bright and early with my choice of eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, french toast, fruits, bagels and other magical breakfast items I usually can’t afford at one time. Plus the drink choices were amazing, fruit punch, milk, orange juice? I’m lucky if I can have one of those at breakfast. I enjoyed breakfast each day and packed my lunch for the day on snow with PB&J sandwiches, fruit and plenty of water.
At dinner time, we had plenty of choices of eating out for dinner with the adult campers or staying in for camp food. I generally chose to go out and enjoy delicious food with the rest of the adult campers away from the kids. We had mexican dinner near camp, sushi dinner near Portland and very good beer with dinner at the and we enjoyed a very nice mexican and sushi dinners out with the adults.
I come from an instructor background but I’ve been aware of the differences between instructors and coaches for a while. The coaches at Windell’s were typically pro riders of some level and had a more mellow laid back teaching style than instructors I’ve worked with within AASI who are generally progression-focused and not of pro-caliber (good riders but not pro).
The coaching at Windell’s for the adult campers was more mellow and laid back, take runs to warm up and then pick what you wanted to ride for the day. Often times we’d be split up in different groups depending on what each group was working on and sometimes all of the groups would be together on a feature. It was more like riding with your friends (who just happen to be pro riders) and having them give you tips without worrying about them ditching you.
When we wanted advice or tips, it meant stopping and talking to the coaches to find out how to improve that last run or box trick. We generally focused around one feature where everyone worked on different tricks at. Every night we went over the video footage from the day, stopped and paused clips to see what was done and how to make it better.
I received alot of influence from the other campers as well, pushing each other and high 5’s for great jobs on a feature. When I decided to ride switch up to the dance box, it was another camper Whitney who told me to do it and backed me up with my idea. Then the coaches gave me feedback after I tried it so I could actually accomplish the goal.
Definitely camp is a different experience depending what learning style you prefer and this was the adult experience for me, having the mellow laid back learning process versus a very set progression instructor course. The camp focuses on actually doing the tricks versus talking about doing them, which works for some learning styles. I found it worked great for mine and it’d be interesting to hear if it worked for everyone.
Definitely being at Windell’s was the most fun I’ve had all summer; meeting adult shredders, hanging out, riding Windell’s and just plain snowboarding there was fun. Even though we had a rough start with the weather which meant layering up and huddling close under the digger tent for warmth, we were still snowboarding and working on our tricks (with less goggle tan). Everyone was stoked to be there.
When our fun snow time ended, we had plenty of fun in the parking lot waiting for the vans to open up or hanging out at the adult house drinking beer. I laughed a lot the entire week because I was surrounded by good people and good times.
As I’ve grown older, my progression in snowboarding has gotten a bit slower and I’m less likely to try crazy stuff that I used to when I first started snowboarding. Now taking the time to learn a rail in the terrain park won’t happen as easily when I’m surrounded by kids better than me. I wanted to come to camp to be surrounded by adults that were also working on their progression without being intimidated like I would in Keystone’s terrain park or riding by myself.
Even though the Windell’s videos focused on the pros or really good riders, the actual camp vibe wasn’t like that for learning tricks. Everyone had set goals to accomplish and from what I saw, everyone felt comfortable working on the goals to get them done. I watched as kids were trying backflips and it didn’t bother me to work on boardslides next to them, the attitude of everyone learning without hating was there. I never saw someone hate when someone had a bad fall or anything mean about someone’s riding, it was just each other pushing to be better on the mountain.
I basically used progression to determine if the camp was a success. I wanted to boardslide, I wanted to air out of pipe consistently and I wanted to ride harder rails. At the end of camp, my goals were met. I tried tricks I had never tried in Colorado and felt a lot more comfortable on boxes and rails than when I came to camp.
I’ve learned over the years that the people you surround yourself with can make boring days the best days ever and if you surround yourself with good people, life will be better. Camp was the same, it was great because of the people. For the most part we were strangers before camp, some of us had ties to each other that we would find out (snowboarding is such a small world) but before we connected those dots we still had a great time getting to know each other. We came from around the world, the majority of us US riders and a mix of all riding levels and skills; from beginners to advanced riders in the park. But the best part of camp was we pushed each other, we pumped each other up, we gave high 5’s, we encouraged the stoke from each other.
I’m now friends with almost everyone on Facebook and trying to keep in touch so we can meet up and ride again with each other. I was bummed to say goodbye since everyone was rad and made the session more than I imagined.
Now looking back on the experience, I had an amazing time and I really hope to make it back to camp next summer because of the experience, progression and the people I encountered. The coaches and staff were fun to be around and the environment was everything I needed this summer for having a fun snowboard trip at Mt Hood.
The Windell’s Session 7 video is up and fun to check out the snowboarding from the week of camp. It’s fun to see me in the background at the 2:24 part of the film.