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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 respective categories.

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 snowboarders.

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 www.windells.com.

By Benjamin Simpson/MT

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