One thing is certain of all summer camps: the employees are there to have a good time. It doesn’t matter the focus or pretense of the camp. You can bet that at church camp people are making out after bible study, at scout camp beers are being snuck behind the dining hall, and American Pie taught us what happens at band camp. I have no idea how the theology, scouting or marching band industries work, but I know that it was summers spent working at Hood that gave many in snowboarding their start. And if I had to guess, I don’t think there is another industry in existence in which summer camps play as important a role as they do in snowboarding. Thus, working at camp is a rite of passage.
I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for my time at Windells. Mainly because without personal attachment to the place, I don’t think I’d care much that the camp is going ski-only. But also because I never entertained the idea of getting a “real job” related to snowboarding before I worked there. Being around others who had spent as much time as myself obsessing over an activity many view as nothing more than an elaborate excuse to get drunk in a mountain condo made me realize that maybe snowboarding was something I could use as a catalyst for a career — whatever that means.
When I heard snowboarding would no longer be hosted on Mt. Hood under the Windells name, I wasn’t surprised; I wasn’t upset. It’s a logical move given the summer camp situation on the Timberline glacier, especially that which has transpired in the past year. I just thought I’d use it as an opportunity to let others who have been influenced by the place — and those who’ve influenced the place itself — reflect on their best times in Oregon between June and September.
Read the official announcement here.
A few things to note:
- The Ark is an old motel that serves as Windells’ employee housing, and is entirely separate from the actual Windells campus where youth campers stay with their counselors.
- In-betweens refer to the time in between camp sessions, hence the term.
- Be assured, any debauchery referenced did not take place around, or in sight of Windells’ youth campers.
Pat Abramson | Summers worked: 10 | Positions: Coach, Head Coach
“I started riding there in ’93 as just a guest pro for RIDE. The last two years I was head coach. The mid ’90s pipe sessions were the best, with all the worldwide heavies and film crews — guys like Terje, Jamie, Sebu and all the crazy cannucks, then skating the bowl with guys like Cardiel, Jason Jesse and MFM.”
Dan Downing | Summers worked: 6 | Position: Coach
“I remember partying at the Ark, shredding in 60 degree weather, skating whatever Jamie built that year, Dummer and Frederick playing tetherball, Pete’s Hole, Night Train, Legge jumping mini bikes and eating shit, Arch and Los, dodgeball, partying in Portland, horseshoes, Brightwood Beach, in-betweens, coaches’ chairs, watching that one dude try backflips on a mountain board — good times, countless friends — hands down the best summers of my life.”
JG Mazzotta | Summers worked: 7 | Positions: Counselor, Skate Coach
“My favorite thing about working at camp was enjoying the amazing state of Oregon. Being a skate coach I got the opportunity to leave Hood every single day to visit all the skateparks around the entire Portland and coastal areas. I’m glad I got to spend so much time traveling around that area. It’s crazy some people spend a whole summer there and never leave Govy. The kids, too, are the other best part; it’s amazing to see them so fired up on skating and snowboarding. It gives you a lot of energy, and I felt just like those kids every time I made it out there for the summer.”
Scott Blum | Summers worked: 4 working, many lurking | Positions: Coach-in-training, digger, skatepark monitor
“I remember checking in with my mom, using the pay phone at the gas station next door. Snowboarding, skateboarding, Night Train, Olympia, Hamms, weed and tattoos. It was like high school or college for snowboarding. Spending summers at a young age, doing these things with Willis Kimbel, Rory Silva and Harrison Gordon, are an extremely memorable part of my life. I was a digger until [Tim] Windell fired me for drinking beer while painting rails, then I got rehired to monitor the skatepark and Jamie Weller let me help and learn during the first concrete pours. It sucks that Windells is only for skiing now. Skiers in the park are like razor scooters at the skatepark.”
Harrison Gordon | Summers worked: 1 | Positions: Counselor, Skate Coach
“The times I had while working there are some of the best I’ve had in my life. The people I met, the snowboarding, the skateboarding, the forest and surrounding areas — I’m a pretty nostalgic person and Windells had a huge impact on my life. I still talk with a lot of my friends who I met working there and it led me to where I am at now, which is a pretty cool place to say the least. I have a lot of love for that place then and now. I think in general Windells was more of an outcast camp to work at in comparison to High Cascade where there was, and still is, a lot of the biggest names who promote their stuff. And in a way, that has always stuck with me because it wasn’t the “cool” camp. I actually preferred it because it was a bit rougher around the edges. But things change and the only thing I can hope for is that this won’t affect my ability to skate one of my favorite skateparks in the world, that Jamie Weller and his crew built.”
Austin Hironaka | Summers worked: 4 | Position: Coach
“I lived in a tent at the Ark. Some friends and I set up “tent city”, which was the best zone at the Ark ever since Pete’s Hole got shut down for the third time. Casino nights after coaches’ sale were some of my all-time favorite nights there.”
Cody Booth | Summers worked: 7 | Position: Coach
“Hard to pick a favorite moment, but here are some I remember: Legge jumping a dirtbike over burning mattresses and crashing the bike into a room, the illegal bar out back of the Ark: Pete’s Hole, watching Goschey snap all the ski coaches’ poles one morning and toss them in the garbage after they tried partying for their first time, Nick Early skating naked with a machete… My best memories aren’t the actual snowboarding, though seeing the excitement on kids’ faces and helping them grow as snowboarders and as humans was incredible, but it was the in-betweens camping, when we all went to the woods to break free from camp life and enjoy new and old friends around fires and under the stars. I made some connections there that will last a lifetime.”
Brandon Cocard | Summers worked: 5 | Position: Coach
“I remember rolling up to camp every morning in Matt Doman’s T top. Then Cody Booth and I would have a boot-throwing contest. Whoever could toss their boots the furthest would win. We would make shit up like that all the time. Beers in the timberline parking lot — all of my favorite memories come from those parking lot hangouts after snowboarding.”
Corbin Clement | Summers worked: 7 | Position: Coach
“My favorite memory is definitely snowboarding from the summit of Hood with Cody Booth. My first time making a descent with an axe, riding down the crater was steep, icy and scary, but was the longest backcountry run of my life. That or Cody [Booth] giving Ian [Boll] a haircut with a machete using a stump for a chopping block.”
Ian Boll | Summers worked: 4 | Position: Coach
“I remember when we were camping at Keeps Mill and Max Gomer fell off two consecutive cliffs in a row because he was climbing alone with music in and sunglasses on at 4:30 am — classic mistake. I also loved watching all types of people get drunk and decide to jump in the Ark pond: Sam Wittke, unknown skiers on bikes… at least [Michael] Wick was smart enough to have a surfboard and wetsuit — great thinking on his part.”
Marsha Hovey | Summers worked: 4 | Positions: Social Media Intern, Marketing Coordinator, Camp Director
“My favorite memories from working at camp are making the most out of our precious in-betweens, learning to push around in the Concrete Jungle, and watching the sun come up with people that inspire me daily. I ain’t Nathan without those memories.”
Mark Wilson | Summers worked: 3 | Position: Digger
“My first summer digging to ride Jared and Everest decided to do a “Whiskey Challenge” after we finished digging out the park one day. Next dig out day the whole van decided to join in. Another time the whole squad was waiting in the lodge to see if it was gonna be a rain day or not. Austin Leonard decided to egg Jared Jordan on about doing the ultimate sit-up. He didn’t have a clue what it was, but was positive he could do it. The entire digger crew was in a circle watching it go down and it couldn’t have worked out more perfect. Nose went full speed into ass — one of the funnier things I’ve seen.”
Riley Nickerson | Summers worked: 3 | Position: Digger
“My favorite memories from my summers at Windells are doing a burnout on a moped inside the skate house on a beer-slick floor, and Everest wasted in the Ark pond.”
Erik Hoffman | Summers worked: 3 | Positions: Photo Intern, Photo Manager
“I remember watching Josh Bishop yell, ‘Trust fall!’ as he jumped off the roof of the Ark into a crowd of people, and no one caught him. And I remember flying to San Jose, immediately driving to Oregon all night, not sleeping, then showing up to the Ark where we were graced with the presence of this psycho woman who played Creed and Metallica on her guitar while her mom played the harmonica. She whipped out her fake tits five or six times, signed my chest ‘Rachel Dickstra’, and tried her luck to sleep with every dude there. The quote of the night came from her mom: ‘All these boys have such nice teeth, not like your ex-boyfriends.’ The next day she came back at about five and tried to hangout, but no one was feeling it. She told us, ‘You guys have changed.’ We responded ‘Yeah, we aren’t drunk.’ Then we never saw her again. Maybe someday the videos will hit the internet.”
Derrek Lever | Summers worked: 4 | Position: Kitchen, Digger
“So many good memories living in Club 2, watching Menace 2 Society every day, smoking weed and drinking Hamms with all our friends. That time period was awesome. We would just snowboard, skateboard, camp, work and party together all the time. I even managed to score a great girlfriend (Mary Rand) out of the whole deal.”
Mary Rand | Summers worked: 3 | Position: Coach
“There are so many memories from Windells that all blend together into an amazing experience and time in my life. What really sticks out is camping, the duck float, all of Chef Ryan’s secret spots and the madness that happened in just two days of the in-between. I had never camped much before I worked there, and now it’s one of my favorite things to do thanks to everyone who introduced me to it at Windells.”