When Whistler Valley Snowboard Club (WVSC) heard community stalwart Camp of Champions declared bankruptcy in spring of 2017, head coach and club founder Rob Picard sprang into action to provide summer snowboarding on the Horstman Glacier.
"When Camp of Champions closed its doors, we scrambled to pull something off," Picard said. "We managed to get two weeks last year, and this year we've extended it to three weeks."
It was a harried time for the club, Picard recalled, but in the end, the camp worked out and there will be a repeat this year, with boarding offered from June 25 to July 14.
"Last year, we were in meetings pretty much the day after we got the news," said Picard. "With Vail (Resorts) being part of the equation now, it took about two weeks to get all our pricing OK'd, which only left us about two or three weeks of advertising it. We managed to pull off 20 kids a week within that.
"It wasn't our target number, but it was successful enough that they let us do it again this year. That's a really big bonus for us and our program."
Picard said connecting with Whistler Blackcomb made sense, as he runs snowboard programming with them in the winter season.
As well, a no-frills approach to the camp worked well for the club, as it offers the snow access and coaching only—no lodging or airport pickups are included. Picard noted several local kids came out in the first year, and he expects more to come out this summer as well.
Picard said there are roughly 30 participants a week expected for this year's camps, and 20 spots a week are still available.
"Our market is competitive snowboarders from teams and clubs all over Canada, so we've invited different clubs and provincial teams to be there with their coaches to continue their training," he said. "Our first two weeks, we have probably more local kids than out of town, but then we have a big group coming from Calgary and some kids coming from Yellowknife, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec. They're coming from all over the place.
"Everybody wants to be in Whistler ... It's good to be able to invite them out this summer."
Picard said guest coaches would be part of every week, with a handful of pro teams and other clubs across the country sending instructors to round out the ranks. Confirmed participants include Yes, Now, Capita, Burton, Sandbox and the Canadian National Team.
When Camp of Champions shut down, owner Ken Achenbach cited concerns about the state of the Horstman Glacier and noted global warming as a prime reason for shutting down the business. Other operators on the glacier were confused by the announcement at the time. Picard said there is enough snow for the club's purposes, but respects the glacier.
"It's definitely thin. We've definitely had to find a little bit of snow, but for the terrain we're looking to build, there's enough there," he said. "That's why we capped it at 50 a week, so it's not too busy in there. We're limited to the amount of features we have, as well."
For more information, visit www.whistlervalleysnowboardclub.ca.