WONDERLAND Skate Camp
From the WITHITGIRL ARCHIVE: Story by Irene Ching (published in c2001)
Leaving NYC to go to Woodward, rural Pennsylvania, is always a relaxing drive. Buddha, my 88 Jetta, and I are deep in the heart of farmland and a full-on Amish community. As we clock miles, leaving behind the heat-absorbing asphalt of NYC, the roads get smoother, the landscape greener, the air fresher, and my mind clearer.
If you didn't already know, Woodward is a skater's paradise, complete with a swimming pool, hot tub, cafeteria, pro shop, game room, go-carts, golf range, horseback riding, canteen, BBQ, computers, etc. Fully staffed, Woodward's counselors guarantee amusement. You will go to bed exhausted.
As a kid who was never privileged enough to attend camp, I will enjoy camp life as an adult.
Four hours later, I arrive to find that they have added even more stuff to ride since I last visited. Cloud 9 was now complete with a 12' vert ramp and foam pits on each side and resi-layers on the opposite side, for trying those new tricks. The Rock looked smooth as butter - beautifully poured cement bowls, hips, and ledges for your riding pleasure. The 112' wide Titanic had a brand new layer of Skatelite Pro begging for someone to session it.
Just as I arrived, Week 9's Pro Demo took place outside on the dual B3 vert ramps. In between witnessing some truly sick runs by biker Jamie Bestwick and double-back flips by inliner Matt Lindenmuth, I was reacquainting myself with the Woodward staff. Chris Carlance was busy filming with Maverick making sure all were happy campers. The crowd was stoked as the demo raged on. There were several campers who knew me from the local skateparks in the NY area and most of the girls were psyched to have another female skater at camp to ride with. The kids are curious about my rollerskating . . . the hows and whys of it. Then they'd bug out, even more, when they'd see me skateboarding, too! I met 2 girls all the way from Israel, where the only ramp they have to ride at home is a 10' vert. There were also 2 brothers from Switzerland. Man, I thought I traveled far to go camping. As you can tell by now, it's worth the journey.
After a quick sundown sess on the B3 ramps, we moved indoors to Lot 8 for the remainder of the evening. Hitting the foam pit, spinning as much as possible then warming up in the 6' bowl, before moving onto the lovely vert ramp 'til bedtime rolled around.
The next day I needed to hit the Rock. It was calling my name with its smooth curves beckoning. There's nothing like carving and grinding around bowl corners, frontside carving the large hips, and searching for those ever-elusive lines.
So fun to get going so fast it scares you.
The Woodward staff hosts casual Pizza Jam Contests, where cabins form teams lead by a pro skater/rider. The winning team gets 5 pizza pies served to them by the losing team's pros. Some of the youngest campers formed themselves into obstacles on the tabletop, while their pro team leader did tricks over them. Another team did synchronized tricks together and follow-the-leader maneuvers through Lot 8. These contests are complete with DJ, cued music tracks, and MC on the mike. It's all about the fun. After taking a much-needed break for food and water (the temps were hot and humid), I ran into Hayley, 16, a skater in Greenport, Long Island. We decided to get together later at Lot 8 to work on our airs and spins. Afterward, a bonfire was scheduled up the hill before turning in for the night.
During my last day at camp, I was worn and weary, even slightly beaten. I took a nice grind on my shin when I missed the coping in the Rock. It was then that Chris rolled up, wanting to do an interview and video shoot. All went well and after a short rest, I gathered myself together for the drive home. I cannot tell you how hard it is to leave. The surroundings here are wonderful. Acres of manicured lawns with grazing horses and glorious mountain backdrops encasing some of the best riding terrain available anywhere.
Woodward is a dream come true. And, as always, I leave thinking about my next trip back to camp.
For more info, Woodward skate camps, check the websites: West Coast & EastCoast
We added some updated photos and video to the story- also kept the old photos even though the resolution is not the spirit- wanted to keep the spirit of the old post.
Irene Ching is a photographer, graphic artist, skate and snowboard instructor, who had just enough time to write this article for withitgirl. Her mother is still waiting for her to outgrow rollerskating.
Check out Irene's Pandemic 2021 Update!
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