Written by Elaine Bothe, NWTA Instructor
Aug. 8-11, 15-18, 22-25, 2022, at Gateway Green
NWTA’s first ever Kids Camps by the numbers: 1 awesome bike park, three weeks, eight instructors and helpers, and 36 kids aged 8-13!
Monday mornings are awesome! 8:45 am, August 8, 2022, we stood with clipboard in hand and big smiles on our faces. We were stoked and ready, just in time for the first kids to show up to the first day of the first-ever NWTA Kids MTB Summer Camps! We greeted each kid as they walked up with their parents. Then we did a bike and helmet safety check to make sure everything was A-OK and made name tags for the bikes.
The three sessions were held at Gateway Green Bike Park in Portland, Oregon: August 8-12, Aug. 15-18, and Aug. 22-25, 2022. Each session was four days, Monday-Thursday. Each session started at 9 am and ended at noon to avoid the hottest part of the day during a particularly warm summer.
Three hours was plenty! Each day started in the Fred Meyer parking lot with warm-up laps involving a rousing game of Foot Down, a few skills such as basic body positions, and pool-noodle limbo. Riding into and out of the park was orderly, single file with 2-4 kids in between an adult rider, stopping at all the intersections and MAX crossings and waving “Hi” to the MAX drivers. We watched out for the trains and buses, and they watched out for us.
Once in the park, about half the time was spent learning trail skills and half on the pump tracks, skills area, and jump lines, working on skills appropriate for the class level. About halfway through the day, we enjoyed a snack break, usually hanging out on the rocky play structure, which offered seating for all who wanted one. Activities included slow races, track stand competitions, fast races, timed pump track laps, technical rocky sections, and much more between them hitting all of the trails and much more.
We had sessions for beginner Green Geckos, intermediate Leapin’ Lizards, and even the advanced Flying Dragons. Every trail option in the entire park was covered by at least one of the groups of kids. Every single kid learned new skills, and watching each child’s progression through the week was truly a joy. As an instructor, I am appreciating what a valuable asset Gateway Green is for teaching mountain bike skills to a variety of riders at different skill levels and progressing all of them. Every kid ended their week a much stronger rider!
It truly takes a village to come together for a bike park such as Gateway Green, let alone putting on kids’ camps. Juntu Oberg of the NWTA helped make so many of the connections happen to get this program going. Instructors included Myles Ridge, Deidre Iwersen, Pete Melton, and Elaine Bothe, and helpers included Izzy Umberhandt, Oliver Lupton, Jennifer Phillips, and Phaedra Urban.
We want to relay a HUGE thank-you for the support: of the City of Portland Parks & Recreation, TriMet, Fred Meyer, Trek Bicycles, Lolo Racks, REI, Project^ and all of the trailbuilders, volunteers and Northwest Trail Alliance folks working behind the scenes to build and maintain Gateway Green!
Photos by Jennifer Phillips, Phaedra Urban, Al Parker, Glen Miller, Ruandy Albisurez, and Elaine Bothe.