HCSC 2012: The K-Unit Interview

L-R: Jake Ekenstam, Jaeger Bailey, Samantha kolesky, Isabella Borriello, Andrew Spiegel, Nirvana Ortanez, Amanda Hankison, Mitch Richmond, Headwrap, Kevin Westenbarger, George Gazdick, and Garrett Warnick (dish to ride). | Photo: Kevin Westenbarger

Words: Taylor Boyd

As someone who's worked at a summer snowboard camp, I can attest to the fact that anytime you tell someone this, they say something like, "Oh sick, you coach?"

Well guess what, you need more than coaches to run a summer camp.

I sat down with the hard working group of men and women known as the K-Unit, High Cascade's kitchen staff, and asked them a few questions. It also happens that everyone in the Unit is pretty talented on a snowboard.

Long-time K-Unit manager, and snowboard photographer, Kevin Westenbarger, in addition to a couple others, gave me some photos, so here goes…

A day in the kitchen at High Cascade goes something like this:

5:30 AM – The half of the Unit working breakfast, gets up and heads to the kitchen.

6:00 AM – The ovens, fryer, and flat top are fired up. Some start cooking the bacon and eggs, while others set up the lunch line.

7:00 AM – The diggers are the first to get to the kitchen, they finish breakfast and head up the hill, while the rest of camp starts to file in, between 300 and 360 people in a morning.

8:50 AM – Kitchen doors are closed and cleanup begins

10:00 AM – The Unit returns to the house, and gets ready to cram into the Unit Van and head up to the hill.

10:30 AM to 2:30 PM – Shred.

3:00 PM – Dinner crew comes in and begins preparing dinner.

5:30 PM – Dinner is served.

7:00 PM – Doors are closed and cleanup begins.

8:00 PM – Done. Time to relax, skate, or maybe even crack a beer, of course, only if they're of age.

Andrew Spiegel Wallride | Photo: Kevin Westenbarger

So, why kitchen as opposed to another job at camp?

Kevin Westenbarger: The main reason form me is that there’s no on-hill responsibility. We don't have to work between 10 and 3, so we can ride everyday as much as we want.

Jaeger Bailey: As an up-and-coming rider, I don't have to deal with the kids all the time. When I'm in the kitchen I'm focused instead of having to constantly be telling the kids what to do like the camp counselors. Also, like Kevin said, I have no on-hill responsibility, so I can focus when I get up to the mountain. And 'cause Kevin's my boss, I really look up to him as a photographer as well as in life in general.

Amanda Hankison: Because it's the best job you can have at camp. You get to ride the most, and you get the least interaction with….  the other things.

Mitch Richmond: Yeah, you get to ride the most.

Nirvana Ortanez: Why wouldn't you want to be in the K-Unit is the real question?

George Gazdick: Kevin's the best manager at camp, for real.

What's the worst thing about working in the kitchen?

Samantha Kolesky: Sweating all the time.

Isabella Boriello: (laughs) It's just all shitty.

Kevin: Kids dumping plates on the ground. It's also impossible to make everyone happy, no matter what you make someone's gonna hate it.

Garrett Warnick (Worm): Unloading orders.

Nirvana: Hollandaise sauce.

Jaeger: Forearm burns.

George: Nothing's bad in the kitchen, cause there's no crying in the kitchen

Jaegar Bailey | Photo: Kevin Westenbarger

Who annoys you the most?

manda: Anyone who comes in within 5 minutes of us closing.

Alex Kevesdy (Headwrap): The most annoying people to me are the ones that ask for to-go boxes. Beat it. When you've got 100 people each day asking for to-go boxes it gets really annoying.

Sam: Anyone who's vegetarian and constantly asks for special treatment.

Do you guys ever prank anyone?

Isabella: (Andrew) Spiegel got Joe (Joe Rizzo is the former camp director) with some really spicy peppers in his burrito.

Kevin: When his burrito was open he distracted him and threw 'em in there.

Headwrap: Yeah, Spiegel goes, "Did you see that new sign?" then Joe tried to play it off like he knew, "Oh yeah, that sign's cool."

Kevin: There's been some burritos spiked with hot peppers. Sometimes people need us to help them roll up the burrito, and then we slip in some habanero peppers.

Worm: Well deserved if you can't roll your own burrito.

George: Yeah, we bomb counselors. We get Joe Rizzo.

Kevin Westenbarger – FS 360 | Photo: JT Busby

Is there any initiation for the newbies?

Jaeger: You have to stab a raccoon.

Kevin: Yeah, sometimes you have to stab a raccoon with a spear. Jaeger had to stab a raccoon.

Worm: I'm gonna have to do that tonight. I've got some hunting to do because I'm the new guy.

Isabella: They pretty much treat you like shit; you lose the ego you once had.

Sam: You definitely get told to kill yourself quite a bit. KYS.

Mitch: They get told they "ain't shit" a lot.

George: I ate a five-year-old cookie.

Kevin: Yeah, we have a cookie stashed in the kitchen that one of the ex K-Unit members, Matt Faust, put there 4 or 5 years ago, and every year someone takes a bite out of it. George took a bite this year.

(At this point, Andrew Spiegel walks into the interview late.)

Spiegel, you got here late, so break it down for us. I also know you're a dodgeball legend around camp.

Spiegel: Well, the Unit is all about hate, it inspired me to get this tattoo (it's "H8"). A little kid spills a burrito on the floor, you go after him on the dodgeball court. You remember his face and hit him with a dodgeball. It's not a bad gig; you get to snowboard pretty much more than anybody. We have a lot of fun.

What's the best night for food at camp?

Worm: Thanksgiving dinner.

Nirvana: I lIke burrito night.

Kevin: Everyone likes taco and burrito night, I think that's the most popular. I like the stir-fry with the pho.

Spiegel: Sushi. I roll sushi sometimes.

Jaeger: Pho night or Sea Captain's Platter.

Isabella Borriello – FS 270 | Photo: Kevin Westenbarger

What's the worst night?

Nirvana: Sea captain's platter.

Jaeger: Pizza night

George: Pizza night

So Sea Captain's Platter is the best and the worst, depending on who you ask?

Kevin Westenbarger: Yeah, Sea Captain's Platter is the best and the worst.

For the kids out there reading this, who might want to try to get a job in the Unit, how might they go about that?

Amanda: Be the best dish to ride. Most kids out there probably don't even have a chance.

Mitch: Be a boss when you're doin' dish to ride.

Worm: I don't know, I haven't got a job yet.

George: You gotta know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy.

Kevin: We're a pretty tight-knit group, so you've definitely got to get along, but dish to ride is a good start.

NIrvana Ortanez – Nose Press | Photo: Ashley D Pearce

Tell us about the K-Unit Van.

Kevin: The unit van is almost dead. They claim that they blew a head gasket during ramp crew, but it's still running.

Spiegel: Joe Zep did the tag, and was fired how many days later?

Kevin: He was fired like four days later. It wasn't for the tag though.

Spiegel: Make sure you note the 5'2" crew and the 6'2" crew. The 5'2'' crew consists of Jaeger Bailey, Mitch Richmond, and Kyle Loppiccolo.

The 6'2" crew consists of Garret Warnick, Cornell Agee, and myself

Mitch Richmond – FS 360 | Photo: Kevin Westenbarger

Alright, let's hear some parting words…

Jaeger: Tweealve

Spiegel: Tweealve

George: Tweealve

Worm: Tweealve

Amanda: Kill yourself

Mitch: Face push

Sam: Ya ain't shit

Isabella: You guys took 'em all. How 'bout, fuck 'em all.

Headwrap: There are three words that apply all around the world – Spiegel ain't shit.


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