Contributed photo.Partnership yields fruit for rival camps posted on 09/01/2018
Premier Mount Hood snowsports camps High Cascade Snowboard
Camp (HCSC) and Windells Ski and Skateboard Camps and Academy have long been
leading destinations for professional-level ski and snowboard instruction, with
a historic rivalry that has given way to a partnership in the face of
industrywide declines and challenges over the past half-decade.
Mount Hood is the only year-round ski area in North America,
drawing skiers and snowboarders of all levels to its summer slopes.
“In 2017 the biggest Canadian camp, the Camp of Champions,
went bankrupt,” said Kevin English, academy president and CEO of the We are
Camp, LLC partnership. “We’re the last year-round ski and snowboard camps in
North America. We see ourselves really flying the flag.”
The camps formed a 50-50 partnership in 2014, and this
summer found the programs further consolidated, sharing the Windells’ campus
off Hwy. 26 in Welches for both camps’ youth attendees.
The partnership was described by English as a response to a
decline in attendance beginning in 2012, with both camps being below capacity
for subsequent years.
Data from the Snowsports Industry of America shows
participation in skiing and snowboarding peaking in 2011 with 11.5 million
skiers and 8.2 million snowboarders before declining by 20 percent and seven
percent respectively over the following five years.
English also cited a decline in youth sports participation,
increased specialization in sports at a younger age and a smaller youth
demographic as challenges the camps face.
“We’re trying to have
a set of best-in-class camps on the same facilities,” said English, describing
the company’s approach to the changing market.
HCSC focuses on snowboarding exclusively while Windells’
offers ski and skateboard instruction. English added that We are Camp, LLC
looks to develop the skate program into its’ own distinct entity on the shared
campus in a further attempt to separate the camps as industry leaders in their
This year the camps sold out of all five ski and snowboard
sessions and also two skateboard sessions.
“I didn’t hear much complaining that everyone was riding
together,” said English. “The energy was up. It was all in one location.”
HCSC campers staying at the Welches facility have access to
the acclaimed skate park on campus as well as the trampolines, foam pits and
other training facilities. Both camps benefit from shared use of the terrain
parks on the mountain, the private lifts and access to professional skiers and
The camps maintain close ties with U.S. Olympic National
teams, who use the camps’ world-renowned parks on Palmer Glacier for their
training programs. They also feature professional riders, including former X
Games and Olympic medalists, during different sessions each year.
“The number one thing in camp is the people,” English said
about this summer’s turnout. “Getting the number of people up was amazing. It
really gets the energy up.”
The camps host between 1,000 and 1,400 guests annually and
are working to build out facilities on their shared campus and further develop
the skateboard program.
“These are camps we want people to send their grandkids to.
We consider ourselves in the young part of our legacy,” said English.
HCSC can be contacted on the internet at
www.highcascade.com, and Windells Academy and Camps can be contacted at
By Benjamin Simpson/MT