It’s Saturday, June 9, 2012 and Gary Ream, the visionary behind Camp Woodward, is leaning against the railing of the upper observation deck inside Woodward Tahoe’s new 33,000 square foot facility (“The Bunker”) looking out over what they’ve created. He can’t help but smile. Moments before, a BMXer fastplanted over and through the ribbon to officially open the facility, and now a constant stream of kids and their parents pour into the building to check out the six olympic sized trampolines, the foam pits, and the concrete skate park for themselves.
While action luminaries like Tony Hawk, Todd Richards, Mike Vallely, Hannah Teter, Tanner Hall, and Slash dine on catered snacks behind him Ream (pictured right with his daughter Kelsey) looks out over the facility and nods. It’s obvious that he is extremely proud and excited about the new facility, but more than that he seems amped on what this means for the future of Woodward action sports complexes.
“Look at this,” he says gazing off into the cavernous space. “You know there’s obviously a lot of passion here. You listen to the kids, we have a great staff and look at the pros and family that showed up. We did this at Copper. We did this in Bejing. We listened to the kids, we listened to the pros. We added a little capital and a bunch of passion and we’re going to do this again.”
Follow the jump for the rest of the story and a slew of photos from the Grand Opening.
Curren Caples jumps on a trampoline below while cheerleaders practice throws behind him. Skaters are riding a mini ramp in the back while BMXers practice flips into the foam pits while tween rappers strut a stage on the deck of a quarterpipe, but Ream sees these Woodward Camps as much more than kids learning skate or snowboard tricks.
“This is really not only the new playground of youth, but it’s a creative arts center,” he says. “And you know if you add what we have with the progression of athletes with a world class creative arts program we’ve got the whole horizon. The whole spectrum. It’s all here. We’ve got the content, the video, the music. Look at the kids on stage. It’s all part of the culture of what action sports is.”
What has helped Woodward grow so quickly in the last few years is Ream’s interest in getting every kid involved in action sports. Not just kids who want to skateboard or snowboard, but the kids who want to learn to shoot and edit video, or learn photography. And not only kids who can afford to go away to camp for a week.
“To have the whole span from the progression athletics to world class creative arts and hopefully be able to put these in urban centers where we can get kids in daily is the goal,” Ream says. “Because it is cool for kids to sleep at home. We want them to be able to come in after school and to find out where they are on the athletic spectrum. But during that whole process, maybe they don’t have to total athletic blessings some people have. But you know, they’re blessed with something else. It could be music, it could be video, if could be like the kids over there rapping. But an environment like this sort of pulls it out. And it’s all current with today’s technology so it’s going to get better and better and better.”
Ream won’t say how may “urban centers” Woodward plans to build in the coming years, but if the reception of the Tahoe facility is any indication there will be quite a few of them. And we’re guessing they will be packed with kids. Kids who will be shaping all aspects of action sports (and action sports media) in the coming years. So watch out.
. . . and Jaws Homoki, too.
Todd Richards and Yobeat’s Brooke Geery.