Portland Parks & Rec Spring Break Kids Camp

Word and photos by Elaine Bothe

March 25-18, 2024, Gateway Green Bike Park and Montavilla Community Center

Spring Break 2024 provided winter weather but summer fun during our Gateway Green Bike Park Kids Camp!

Spring Break in the Pacific Northwest is always a mixed-weather bag. Fortunately we got only one full on rainy day during the first official four-day Spring Break Green Geckos Camp for kids organized by NWTA and Portland Parks & Recreation and hosted by the Montavilla Community Center. While the rest of the time was chilly we enjoyed one day of sunshine and two days of mostly dry with a few showers! Surprisingly, we didn’t see was anything frozen falling from the sky.

We hosted 9 enthusiastic kids from grade 4 through 9. Most were first timers to our bike programs as well as Gateway Green. The program ran for four days from 9 am until noon. We met in the Gateway Fred Meyer parking lot where we brought in the loaner fleet of Marlin hardtail mountain bikes and helmets donated by Trek Bicycles. Some of the kids already had their own bikes, some didn’t own bikes at all, some had bikes too small for them.

Each day started with some warm-up riding and fundamental skills drills including body position, shifting and braking, ratcheting and cornering before riding down the 205 Multi-use Path to Gateway Green. Once in the park we split into two groups. One group worked on the pump track and dirt jumps, the other rode the trails and worked on skills such as climbing, descending, roll-downs and technical features. Halfway through the morning we had a snack break, then the groups switched locations. 

On Wednesday the cold rain wasn’t going to stop all day, so we met at Montavilla Community Center instead. Indoors in the gym, we worked on small corners, ratcheting and bike handling. We also learned how to change a flat tire and had some fun relay games and slow races. 

Each child rode to their ability and comfort zone and everyone made impressive progress over the course of the week! It was a delight to see how much fun the kids had in spite of the weather. Or, maybe because of it! Us coaches were sad to see the week end. But we look forward to our next events which include more after-school programming at Montavilla CC and summer camps and classes for kids and adults at Gateway Green!

Big thanks to the trail builders – the trails were fun and in great shape even after the wet winter we’ve had! And cheers to everyone at the Montavilla Community Center and Portland Parks & Rec who helped make this event happen, Fred Meyer for the use of their parking lot (and for stocking rain pants when one kid arrived in shorts!), the ongoing support of project^, Trek and the Trek Portland Westmoreland store helping us with the fleet maintenance, REI and the instructor team led by Elaine Bothe of Elaine B Bikes with instructors Myles Ridges, Kim Desmarteau and assistant/camper Oscar.