Unless you live near a resort that runs into late spring like, say, a Whistler or a Mammoth, odds are your resort days are coming to an end. But as you probably know, this just means that things are getting ramped up for another season up on Mt. Hood in Oregon. And you probably also know that High Cascade is one of the main camps that calls this summer-long glacier home. But do you know what to expect this summer? We hooked up with co-owner and HCSC marketing guru Preston Strout to get the scoop on what's gonna be crackin' for summer 2009. Read on...
ESPN: So what's your role at High Cascade?
Preston Strout: I'm one of the owners of the camp, but there are five owners so we all wear a lot of hats. Some of that hats I wear would be camp director to make sure summer camp, you know, happens. This means coordinating our 100-plus staff, from hiring to training. We have eight managers at campfrom head coach, head counselor, kitchen manager, maintenance manager. So I work with those team of managers to make it all happen.
When does everyone show up and when does it really get into full force?
Right now, as of last week, a crew of 10 guys are up at Hood building all our skate jumps. On June 1st, we move our office up to Hood from Portland. At the same time all our managers come up for a week of planning and preparing. On June 7th, the 100-plus crew of staffers arrive. From there we do about eight days of staff training and finish getting camp all set up. Then the kids roll in on June 15th.
How does High Cascade differentiate itself from other camps? Why choose your camp?
It's tough to answer why your camp might be a better experience than another one without sounding like you're talking bad about other programs. But whenever anyone asks that question we usually just focus on our strong pointslike number one, we're 100-percent snowboarding. We only allow snowboarding. We're not a ski camp, we don't have BMX or gymnastics or anything like that. So the whole experience is completely snowboard focused. That's one obvious point of differentiation. The other big point, which is a bit intangible, but the people that work at our camp are second to none. We've got an amazing crew, and this year we have a 100-percent return rate. Every coach and every counselor is coming back, and most of our managers have been with us for years and years. We just have a phenomenal group of people for campers to be around.
So what can we expect this summer? Anything in particular you're excited about?
Yeah, definitely. We're doing our signature session program again, so every session in addition to our coaches (who are pros themselves) there are additional pros that come for their own session. Like it might be the FRENDS crew one session, then Pat Moore and Peter Line the next.
For sessions three and four, we're converting our 18-foot pipe to a 22-foot pipe, basically a replica of an Olympic sized pipe. And the US team and all Olympic hopefuls will be out riding the pipe during this time. Pat Malendowski of Planet Snow Design builds all our pipes and parks, and has since 1997. Anyway, should be pretty nuts.
We've also got our two private parks, a lap park and our normal, original hike parkit's enhanced this year with a new rope tow that we bought. It's some 2009 crazy piece of technology. It's on its way over right now on a boat from Germany.
What's the rope tow all about?
I think it's just a natural evolution of Mt. Hood riding. Back in the day I think the attitude was a little more "Go get 'em." Like, "I'll hike all day and snowboard" but I think now everyone is in that expect-everything-instantly Internet-age mentality. So we've now got this steel cable handle tow to get you back up the hill faster. This is by no means new ski technology, but it will be the first time we've had one up at camp.
Describe the typical setup a rider can expect to find in the High Cascade area.
Well, it changes every year and we're not up there to build it yet, but in general you can always expect a couple of halfpipes. Halfpipes are something we want to always have, even as interest in pipe has kind of dipped we think it's an important part of snowboarding. So we'll have a mini-pipe and then a full blown pipe. And then we've gotI don't even know the numbertons and tons of every rail/jib/box configuration that you can think of.
Then jumps. We get campers that have never snowboarded before to 13-year-olds who might as well be pro. So we like to cater to everyone and offer jumps that have, say, nothing to clear to a gigantic jump for kids who are really good will have a good time on, and then everything in between.
What about off-hill activities? Tell me about the skate setup.
We've got 22,000 square feet of skate stuff for campers, staff and guests. On one side we've got our bowl, mini-ramp, mini-bowl, vert ramp, and then we've got our street section.
What's the average age for a camper?
Average is probably a 14-year-old. We take 9 and over. We offer adult programs, but the bulk we get in the 9-20 range. And more specifically 14-16 year olds.
How's the adult program?
Session 1 and session 6 we have adult camps. We go out to really good private dinners, and we actually have an executive chef that we hire to cook meals at the adult house. There are opportunities to go party and go out to bars. Basically the stuff we'd never let the kids do.
And all the information on costs and exact session dates can be found on the High Cascade website?
Yep, it's all there.