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Reports from
Mt. Hood Snowboard Camp and
High Cascade Snowboard Camp
in Oregon

Camps are for YOU. You don't have to be an Olympian or expert (or even young!) to go to these camps and have a lot of fun. These camps are open to the public of all ages. Some are even for beginners at snowboarding. Here is a report from our reader, 23 year-old Angela Woo, of Singapore, who visited Mount Hood Snowboard Camp and High Cascade Snowboard Camp in Oregon as a beginner, in Spring 2003. Italics indicate questions from the Editor of 

Angela, Please tell us about your experience as a beginner attending Spring snowboard camp at Mt. Hood, Oregon. (USA)

During the last week of May 2003, I made a decision that turned to be a major turning point in my life. While on a long holiday in California, US, I signed myself up for 2 snowboard camps, both in Mount Hood, Oregon. As a complete beginner to snowboarding and to the idea of adult camp, I decided to attend 2 different camps, with a one week break in between.

Mount Hood Snowboard Camp

The first camp, at Mount Hood Snowboard Camp, was, in a word, mind-blowing. I come from Singapore, where it's summer all year round. I had to acclimatize myself to being on a snow-covered mountain with all my gear and not feel out of place (other than the numerous Japanese riders, I concluded I was the only person from South-East Asia there). There were a total of 9 adult campers, and I shared a room with another girl, who had been riding for about 4 years.

We would wake up by 6:30am every morning for breakfast and be at the lodge by 8:30am. My group consisted of 3 complete beginners, including myself. My instructor was really good in explaining the techniques of keeping our balance (bend our knees, etc) and giving us encouragement and constant feedback. We went up to the top of the Magic Mile Express, progressed down the mountain doing the "falling leaf", and by the end of the 2nd day, my quadriceps were burning and my whole body ached. Ibuprofen-taking was as regular as my meals. I was falling mostly because my muscles were simply too tired. I was left behind by my group members and spent some time sitting on the snow just hanging my head and thinking, "Why did I sign up for the 2nd camp, I'd be dead by the end of this one!" By the 3rd day, the instructor imparted the technique of making toe-side and heel-side turns. By the end of the 4th day, I could link some turns and things started to look up. I did not fall as much due to muscle fatigue, and also I started to go faster. The turns helped to slow me down a little and that made for less braking or returning to the "falling leaf". I was snowboarding! But I didn't make it up to the highest lift, the Palmer Express.

I went back to California and trained up hard for the next camp. My tailbone was sore and my knees hurt, (Lauren says you can avoid this) but that did not matter, as I was so psyched up to go back to Mount Hood.

High Cascade Snowboard Camp

The second camp was a bigger one, the High Cascade Snowboard Camp. When I arrived in Government Camp, where the camp was situated in, all I could think of was the next 6 days back on Hood. This time there were 26 campers and I shared a room with another girl in this really huge impressive house. By the evening, I was hooked up with demo equipment, which was sweet. I took on a new Palmer Touch board and a pair of Vans (can't remember the model) boots. My group consisted of 3 beginners with 1-8 days on snow. I was the one in the middle, with 5 days. This time, we went straight onto the lifts and I was already linking a few turns on my first run. I was so exhilarated to just be riding that I felt no pain in my tailbone or my knees.

By the afternoon, amazingly, the whole group made it up to the top of the Palmer lift. I never felt more overwhelmed just looking at the view from the top. Falls were still the call of the day. Linking turns was still a problem for me if I was going too fast for my own comfort or when I forgot what the instructor said, to keep my weight on my front foot.

Still, for the next few days, we made it up to Palmer and made our way to the HCSC park, where we'd hang out watching other campers doing sick jumps, eat our lunch, and, guess what, hiking the pipe. I slid my way through the pipe and later trying to get a little higher and making some turns. My instructor was amused that we tried it but I was more than amused. I thought it was really fun and wished I could spend more time in the park.

On the second last day at HCSC, while at the bottom of the Palmer lifts, I went a little fast and caught an edge. It was to be my worst fall and I tore my rotator cuff muscle. I hoped for the best and went up the Palmer again. Once in the park, I decided to call it a day as my shoulder felt worse. I sought the advice of a fellow adult camper, who was, unbelievably, also an orthopedic surgeon. He, similarly, also hurt his shoulder. Both of us were out of action the next day, the last day of the camp! As if to relieve our disappointment, the next day turned out to be a rain day. I ended up walking around Portland central with some other female campers and doing the girly thing, shopping.

Angela, How did you fall on your shoulder?

I had my board pointing down the hill, going pretty fast and somehow being really tired, I didn't put enough pressure on the center of board so it just started to slide around and before I knew it one of the front edges dug in a little deeper into the snow and I fell over. Not to mention it was pretty warm and there was a lot of water on the snow and I think I might have just rode onto some of that.

Any padding or ideas on ways you might have avoided that injury? e.g., if you were wearing wrist guards, or if you tucked and rolled, etc ? I know those edge falls happen FAST!

Humm. a shoulder injury would be best prevented with a tuck and roll I suppose.

Did other people at camp wear butt or knee pads or helmets?

Yes almost everyone who did jumps or jibs in the park wore helmets. I knew of a couple from the first camp who wore impact shorts too. I think those are pretty good. I don't know anyone who did put on any knee pads though.

So there it is, my adventures at 2 summer snowboard camps. I'm still reeling from the experience and from all the people I met. The girls were exceptionally impressionable. I've never met so many females with so much passion for an extreme sport, and seeing them charge so fiercely on the mountain, it makes me meek. Not to mention the experience of being around these riders for the 2 weeks gave me a brief insight to the lifestyle and attitudes of the American snowboard culture.

If I could change anything about the camp, I would take some tailbone/butt padding with me, and maybe some knee pads as well, as the countless falls did take a great strain on my body. Nonetheless I love it and I will definitely be back for more. My life will never be the same again.

Ride on!

Yours truly,

Angela, thanks for sharing your exhilarating account of learning to snowboard at camp with us! (You can write to Angela at Put "Angela" in subject line.)
Lauren - Editor

If you have gone to snowboard camp and would like to tell us about it, drop us a note.

"Let's Ride!"






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