By Jardine Hammond
So, you wanna go to camp? After working at a Mount Hood summer snowboard camp for four years, doing everything from coaching adults to being a counselor and working in the office, I think I can offer you some helpful advice.
First off, yes, there are places you can ride in the summer if you didn't get enough shredding all winter. The camps are in North America and Europe, run in eight- to ten-day sessions, and the price usually includes most activities, lift tickets, coaching, food, and lodging. Airfare isn't included, so call about flights before you book a session.
Next, if you're looking for deep powder, trees, and lots of freeriding, summer camp won't be for you–the camps are located on glaciers; therefore, unless you go to the early sessions, the freeriding is limited. But, if you get really excited when you see a perfect jump, a fresh cut, or an absolutely amazing pipe, then the summer
snowboarding experience is definitely going to be your thing. Whether you're ready to take your first turn, or learn your first backside rodeo, camp is where you'll do it. Where else can you get a personal coach whose sole job is to teach you exactly what you want to learn? Just remember, your coach can't read your mind, so speak up.
What many people don't know is how many other fun things there are to do at the camps. If skating is your thing, High Cascade and Windell's in Oregon have both ramps and unbelievable street courses. The facilities are actually good enough to make them seem like skate camps with snowboarding on the side. Besides skating, most camps offer mountain biking, BMXing, hiking, wakeboarding, and rafting, as well as paintball, movie trips, basketball, soccer, and tons of other stuff. Make sure you read the brochure for the camp of your choice carefully, and if you don't find the info you're looking for, call and ask specific questions.
If you big kids want to go to camp simply to party, go to Europe! Unless you're 21 in the U.S. or nineteen in Canada, camps have little to zero tolerance for that sort of thing. Plus, who wants to wake up at 7:00 a.m. and go riding with a hangover? A hangover at home is way cheaper anyway.
So, if you want to go to camp this summer, sign up soon–spots fill up faster than you'd think. When you get there, remember to take advantage of everything they have to offer; you'll leave with a lot more than just snowboarding skills (memories last forever, a picture can say a thousand words, friends are priceless … you get the sappy idea). To sum it up, don't forget your sunscreen, and remember, you're only a kid (or 25, or 32) once!