About Ramp Camp
Ramp Camp has gone through some serious changes in the past few years from the addition of all day clinics to surfing for overnight camp. The most significant change was a heavier emphasis on what would be most comparable to “skills & drills” in relation to traditional sports camps. The demand over the past couple years has been to push the progress even further, in order to do this we have started to cluster the campers and have them do a balance of working the same thing while also adding their own bit of style to it. The results so far have been positive, the campers are a much tougher sell on this part than the parents since they really want the freedom of riding with their friends. One really exciting part has been the addition of more intense video analysis with iPods. Kids love it and are able to really understand the little things by seeing it for themselves. Balance, it’s what we strive for. Keep going for some instructional philosophy/methodology below.
The other major change was the re-introduction of 6 & 7 year-olds to camp. We had to make the tough choice to limit camp age in 2013 based upon room occupancy regulations but found a great way to get them back in for 2014. In 2015 we built out a new room with more fun and added a better selection of sessions. Even though we offer 5 sessions, they have very limited availability with just 12 spots each, and will only run for 3 day 1/2 day options. We truly feel that keeping these young ones fresh and ready to go is more important than having them here for long stretches. No matter what, we know these kids will bring a great level of excitement and energy and we are pretty sure that they may rule during some of the camp games.
Ramp Camp is our version of hooking kids on riding skateboards, bikes & scooters, we offer all three all the time and campers can choose to take part in one or all of them. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting better at what you do, making friends and having fun (not necessarily in that order.) This is not like other camps where we line everybody up and say “do this”. That technique doesn’t work with kids into these activities, where there are hundreds if not thousands of tricks, each with countless variations. To us, Ramp Camp is more than just teaching tricks, it is about nurturing self-confidence through the doses of successes and failures that come with learning something new. The best analogy we can give to people is golf, you might try all day to get a good shot, and when you are ready to quit, you hit the sweet spot and come back the next day. That is the feeling Ramp Camp provides, campers try all day everyday to expand themselves.
Our instruction can be categorized into two distinct categories. The first is where we teach kids to ride a specific area of the park and focus on the tricks that can be done in that area, making an effort to cater to each individual camper as much as possible. The second is where we focus on specific tricks campers want to learn and we roam the park teaching them on different ramps. A major part of all of this is the one on one instruction and challenges that take place. Sometimes it might take just a quick minute or brief mention to get instruction across, other times it can take a little longer. The final fun part of instruction is that each instructor has a signature “move” that they try to teach every camper, these are things that everybody can achieve and they add a bit of fun to the mix as each instructor has their own special sticker to give away as a reward.
Ramp Campers are never a number to us and to make sure that everybody knows them, they get a nametag on the first day of camp! These “What’s Up My Name Is” stickers become a badge of honor for campers and we see them on helmets all over the region now. We also apply a return address label, not for returns though. This label has a short list of staple skills/basic tricks that creates a point of engagement for instructors, we can look at a campers helmet and say “hey, you need to learn how to roll-in?”. If they say they know, we have them prove it and then check the skill off, if they can’t, we know something they need to learn. Pretty foolproof.
Tricks, tricks, tricks, it’s always about the tricks right? You have all heard it” “I want to learn how to ollie!”, “checkout this flip!”, “my friend can do an inward …..”, unless you know the language it is all gibberish. We are all fluent in “Trickology”, and while your camper might not be there yet, we can help them get there and then they can help you. So don’t worry that they don’t know the trick name, odds are they need some skills first, we will then get them towards goals that are appropriate.
Even with the major shift towards drills, we will still make every effort for the campers to have a voice in their experience from simple things like snacks and a daily activity to setting their own goals. The first activity where they have a say is the “Trick List”, aptly named “Ye Wall of Tricks” by 2013’s Winter Session II campers. Ye Wall of Tricks is a portion of the camp room wall that is laid out in a sort of chart, camper’s names along the left side, tricks across the top. We provide the list of 20 or so stock tricks everybody needs to know because they are the foundation to most others, along with ample blanks for customization weekly. On the first day of their session a camper will choose one trick for every day they are in camp and check it off on the chart. These are their goals, when they learn a trick, we circle it and give them a “trick rewards” sticker. We revisit the chart early and often to track advancement and in some instances, coach the camper into a more appropriate goal. Now, armed with this information, we fully encourage parents to checkout the wall at any point during drop-off or pick up, we do not allow parents into the camp room at any other time unless it is an emergency. Once you take a peak, you will never have to settle for the “nothing” response when you ask your camper what they did today.
In addition to “Ye Wall of Tricks”, we have a couple other reward options: #1 an “Awesome” and instructor stickers. An “Awesome” (a sticker that is the letter A in our Ramp Camp logo) is handed out randomly by any person on staff that sees a kid do something awesome and much like camp it is not just about tricks. We may give one out for a camper that says “thank you” (a seemingly lost art), or to a camper that shows some encouragement to others and for the camper that learns some new skills. The only rule about an “Awesome” is that you can’t ask for them, and not everybody gets one. On the instructor side, each instructor has their own staple trick that they are tasked with sharing, these are all generally style based that require nothing more than the basics of each given activity. The goal is to create a sort of week-long scavenger hunt while getting campers to engage with instructors while trying to earn the specific unique sticker.
On the topic of instructors, ours are die-hard riders, many of whom were Ramp Campers and CIT’s themselves. The majority work at the park year-round during their high school years with many of college age. These guys are true leaders between their chosen sport and academically. We also have CIT’s (Counselors in Training), all 13+ with years of experience and the vast majority are Ramp Camp alumn. Back again for 2016 is the JR CIT program, this is limited to the select few shredders that are under the age of 13, but are so good, they just don’t need camp anymore, and we consider them good enough to not only help in camp but also act as solid role models. Each JR CIT is paired with a veteran instructor all the time as they continue to learn the ropes and move up the ranks.
This ties well with the subject of “structure”, or more concise, having structure in the camp day. Here is a sample 5 Day Ramp Camp schedule, it provides a great example of what can be expected during a week of camp. There are other sample schedules under each respective camp program header if you are looking into things like overnight or a school year camp. We have not modified the sample schedule much at this point because the campers really pushed back for some free time to session with their friends during camp. This is an important part because they can’t be pushed to the point of not wanting to do it. We have found that a nice break before lunch works out well.
We have a steady balance of instructional time, free-ride time, games, videos and plenty of snacks. Campers will no longer have the ability to roam during instructional sessions, they will be in groups and travel with their instructor from section to section. One on one lessons are available at anytime during camp, instructors generally make announcements to begin the day, at snacks and lunch-time for campers to sign up for one. We have tried in the past to assign one on one time, it was barely effective, many kids just don’t want the focus on them. By providing some freedom to choose, we have had a greater success with campers progressing. If you have a camper that is especially shy, please speak to a counselor or let us know at check-in so we can be sure to touch base in case they do not speak up on their own.
With this in mind, know that the number of tricks a camper learns is not an accurate measurement of what they get out of camp. We work hard everyday to make sure your camper is learning and improving, it might be something as subtle as how to better position their feet or something as rad as a tre flip.
Quick Ramp Camp facts:
- We welcome males and females ages 8-17 during day camp sessions, with select sessions that also include 6 & 7 year-olds in their own separate “clubhouse” while overnight sessions are geared for ages 10-17.
- The oldest day camper in 2013 was 15 with the average age around 10 1/2.
- The oldest overnight camper was 16 with the average age around 13.
- Day camps are limited to 30 attendees.
- Overnight camps are limited to 20 attendees.
In an effort to increase the overall quality of Ramp Camp, we will no longer allow walk-in registrations. Please register at least one week in advance, space is limited in 2016.