Tim Windell took a short interlude from his world champion snowboarding career more than 20 years ago and founded Windells which now includes the most progressive action sports campus in the world with over 53 acres of land and housing that services up to 340 kids. The campus has the largest skate park, BMX area, free ride park, and indoor recreational facility in the Northwest.
What year did you open Windells? And why did pick Mt. Hood?
I began running camp on Hood in 1988. Before that, Craig Kelly, another former professional snowboarder, and I ran the Canadian Snowboard Association Camp in Whistler the summers of 1987 and ’88. In 1986, Craig Kelly and I ran a camp in Subita, Austria. I picked Mt. Hood for the sure amount of snow it receives year in and year out. You can pretty much build whatever you want with little to no snow farming. I like that it is one of the very few south-facing ski areas in this country, meaning it has sun morning to night. As do I like the fact that Windells can build a park that extends over a mile long, allowing us to offer something for everyone.
You’re a former pro snowboarder and national champion. Do you feel like that experience helps you spot young talent at your campus who will go on to become pros?
For sure that helps. As does spending lots of time on Windells private campus with the kids, getting to know them personally and seeing them interact with other kids and watching them shine in our off hill activities.
There is an impressive roster of alumni who have graduated from your camps and gone on to win Olympic and X Games medals. Who would you say are the most prominent and successful alums? Did they stand out from the rest when they were campers?
Shaun White, Louie Vito, Scotty Lago, Ben Bretz, Hannah Teter, Kelly Clark, Torah Bright, Ryan Sheckler, Travis Rice, Bobby Brown, Tom Wallisch, Tanner Hall, Sammy Carlson and so many others. The list is long, and I can’t be more thankful to run an operation that impacts so many. All of them stood out in their own way, and it’s been a pleasure watching them grow and become ambassadors of the sports.
Windells is known primarily as a kid’s camp. But you have camps for adults too, yes?
Windells is 80 percent kids and 20 percent adults during the summer months. In the winter Windells is 50 percent kids and 50 percent adults. We offer adult camps every session, all year long.
Let’s say my kid is a solid intermediate skier, but he’s never thrown a 360 or ridden a rail. Is he too inexperienced to sign up for one of your camps? What is the entry skill level required?
Your son would have the time of his life at Windells! We take any kid that can link in control turns and wants to learn to be a better snowboarder, freeskier, or skateboarder. Sixty percent of the Windells camper population is intermediate, 30 percent is advanced and roughly 10 percent pro. Outside of this, we generally have another 20 to 30 pros hanging out from the four sports we focus on [snowboarding , skiing, skateboarding, BMX], and most of our staff is the best of the best.
What’s new at camp for this year?
Coming off the best winter and summer camp enrollment in 22 years, during the worst economy since the great depression, I feel like I am a kid in a candy store, and I have pretty much pulled out all the stops this season. I decided to add a second lift to the on hill operation. We also added a slopestyle dry slope, a dry slope launch into a 65-by-65-foot airbag on campus, and a new airbag to our on-hill park, thanks to Burton. We are putting the finishing touches on the new addition to the Concrete Jungle, another 28,500 feet of skate park terrain. We are putting the finishing touches on Windells six acres of BMX terrain, all private to Windells campers, staff, and invited guest. We are adding more foam to our foam pits and three more tramps to the program with two setups next to the foam pit. This summer is the first time a kid can go to summer school and ski or snowboard the private parks while gaining credit for school at the same time. Best of all, this is for campers, invited guest and staff only. None of this is open to the general public.
And I understand your camp isn’t just a ski camp. You can do water sports and other activities as well, right?
Windells is known for its activities, and we run activities day and night, both on and off the hill. The list of activities is long. For starters, if you are a skier or snowboarder, in the afternoons you can also learn to skate and BMX. Throughout each season we will have progression sessions that can take a beginner, intermediate, or advanced athlete to the next level. Through activities and zero outside distractions, Windells is able to build a support crew that can be more than 300 people. This support crew is how Windells has been so successful in developing the best riders in the world.