High Cascade snowboard camp

words and images courtesy john ingersoll

1983 – 1989: I worked for National Alpine Ski Camp and helped a passionate Breckenridge crew start NASC (NASC still operates today under Brad Alire’s guidance). I ran their food and dining operations. I learned and saw how a successful camp and community were created and operated. The Breckinridge staff made the camp; I learned that motivated and happy staff = happy campers and return business. I also learned about housing, transportation and off hill activities… and how important the overall experience was. NASC had impeccable on hill alpine facilities (just like HCSC had and has). I also was so reminded of my youth and growing up, attending and later working as an intern at Camp Kon – O – Kwee in western PA. I experienced magical summers that are to this day etched deep within.  

I came to the end of my east coast savings and wanted to “stay on THE MOUNTAIN”. DURING THE SUMMER OF 1989, I would pick up Campers from Chris Karol’s Snowboard camp that had missed the busses. The riders were excited beyond any stoke I had seen on Mt. Hood even though they ate mac & cheese and spaghetti every day for dinner and cold cereal for breakfast. They had found the “promised land” of Summer snowboarding: Like many entrepreneurs, I thought I could do it better.

I recruited John Calkins as a partner; John was in a lull with his Burton career. I looked him up and convinced John, to help start a snowboard camp. John and I each contributed $4,000 as start-up money. At a brainstorming session, a mutual friend, Jason Pickney, came up with the name “High Cascade”. We thought we could expand to camps at Mt Bachelor, which we later did. We printed black and white brochures, got a toll free number and took out ads in Snowboarder, TWS and International Snowboard Mag (ISM). We launched and the ads went live over Thanksgiving 1989. The camp office was at our house at 1315 NW Baltimore Ave., Bend, OR.

SUMMER 1990: We had about 300 plus campers over 5 – ten day sessions. We had 75 campers at several sessions. On-Hill, Race/Alpine under John Calkins guidance was about 30% of our business. Halfpipe and freestyle was the main part of our business. Halfpipes under Tom Routh’s guidance were hand built. Campers and staff hiked the pipe all day long. Timberline often missed dig schedules as HCSC’s pipes were a big addition to their normal grooming. The grooming bar was set and increased annually for snowboard camp’s operations The non-summer camp office was still at our house at 1315 NW Baltimore Ave., Bend, OR.

PROS: Alpine pros/coaches were Sanders Nye, Shannon Melhuse, Mike Jacoby and Scott Downey. Freestyle coaches were Scott Downey, Adam Merriman, Jimmy Halopoff, Sean McAllister and other drop in pros.

ACTIVITIES: Off-hill we built a 7.5’ mini ramp in Govt. Camp and offered Mountain Biking, rafting, trampoline training, and other camp activities. HCSC was the only camp located in Government camp.

SPONSORS: Main Sponsors included K-2, Morrow and Burton.

COST: $625 per 10-day session.

Competition: Chris Karol’s camp (2nd year) featured halfpipes, two sessions had two pipes. Tina Basich, Jeff Davis, Kris Jamieson, and other established pros were impressive. Karol’s camp ended that year b/c of the employee stress and Karol’s Alpine race career. USSTC with Mike Estes (their main pro) and owner Bob Gilley were limping along and also in their 2nd year.

SUMMER 1991: HCSC printed color brochures. Adam Merriman from K-2 was on the cover. We had a freestyle vision and hired Joey Boisineau as head digger and pipe manager. Joe Beebe was defacto head counselor and my confidant. John Calkins ran the Alpine program. Joey Boisineau and crew dialed our hand-dug halfpipes in. The “Diggers’ were born. We moved our dining and skate facilities to Multopor lodge and had two skate ramps, a 7.5’ and 4.5’ ramp. We had 6 sessions and averaged 100 campers per session.

RL Kohnstamm, a true visionary, got out of the Timberline Delivery Snow Cat at our pipe one morning. I had never seen him there before or after that morning. The halfpipe had been perfect for several days; RL had been watching 100 snowboarders hiking the pipe from Timberline Lodge. I was busy working at the pipe moving banners and such. RL stopped me and had a conversation with me I’ll never forget. He said “John, you have something big and incredible here. I have not seen passion like this since skiers hiked Timberline before the lifts in the 1950s. Let me know how Timberline can assist you”. The relationship was cemented.

PROS: We advertised an impressive staff that included Kris Jamieson, Scott Downey, Adam Merriman, Jimmy Halopoff, and Michelle Taggart. Guest Coaches included JD Platt, Gaia and Palo Dabbeni, Matt Cummins, Jimi Scott, Rob Morrow, and Jason Brown.

sponsors: K-2, Morrow, Burton, Lib Tech, Sorel, and Mistral.

COST: $775 per 10-day session.

SUMMER 1992: HCSC broke a million dollars in sales! Matt Cummins was on the cover of the brochure. Jimi Scott with a hand plant on the lip of the pipe was the fold out poster. The camp progressed. We had rails and logs on the side of our pipes. We experimented with some jumps and logs: the advent of snowboard parks. Our coaching and sponsor list expanded. Matt Cummins was on the cover of our brochure. Joey Boisineau and the diggers hand dug our pipes and held down the on-hill facility. Scott Downey was head freestyle Coach. Joe Beebe was the main off-hill influence. Kris Jamieson was Head Alpine coach. Our dining and skate facilities were at Multipor lodge. Our non-summer office was still at my house in Bend. We had 7 ten-day sessions. Chris Brunkhart and Rob Gracie were some of the notable photographers.

NOTABLE PROS: Matt Cummins, Gaia Dabbeni, Jeff Davis, Mike Estes, Shannon Melhuse, JD Platt, Jimi Scott, and Todd Richards.

Competition: Windells, USSTC and Mt. Hood Snowboard Camp.

SUMMER 1993: The camp surged again. JD Platt was on the cover of the brochure. Our freestyle program grew and HCSC first real Snowboard parks became manifest. Mike Parillo from Volcom built the first HCSC park with a jump line, rails and logs. Kurt Heine built metal rails and a long mail box. Joey Boisineau was pipe coordinator, Joe Beebe was camp director. John Calkins was still Alpine technical director. The Alpine side died, not b/c of effort, but because of lack of interest. Karl Michelle was a noted Alpine coach. Everyone wanted to have fun and jib, jump and ride transition. HCSC built its first vert ramp mid-season at Multopor (Joey Boisineau designed and built it). Our Japanese business started to boom. Camp was full. We had our first Adult camp at Timberline in the summer (over 21). Things seemed good. I decided to give everyone a raise only to start bouncing checks as we had over spent on expenses. Staff stayed on w/o pay for the last two sessions thanks to the community we had built and a few key employees laying out our situation (we paid everyone the following January). We had a camp store that featured Volcom and other core brands.

PROS: Matt Cummins, Gaia Dabbeni, Jeff Davis, Mike Estes, Shannom Dunn, Kevin & Brian & Kevin Delaney, Michell Taggart,  Shannon Melhuse, JD Platt, Jimi Scott, Todd Richards, Shannon Haymes, Doug Scanlan, and Other guest pros would show up.

ACTIVITIES: Off-hill we had two mini ramps and a vert ramp; all in Govt. Camp. HCSC under Joe Beebe’s guide built a street course on Olive St. We kinda took over the street. We offered Mt. Biking, rafting, trampoline training, and other camp activities. We offered a beginner skate program geared towards beginners and beginner women. HCSC was still the only camp located in Government camp.

SPONSORs: industry interest grew..  BURTON, K-2, Morrow, Mistral, Lib Tech, Smaller start ups started to appear.

Competition: Windells, USSTC and Mt. Hood Snowboard Camp. All were based outside of Government Camp (Windells had Japanese at Huckleberry Inn).

Summer 1994: Todd Richards was on the brochure cover. The camp was electric and alive. The on-hill freestyle component of High Cascade was dominant and the resort industry mirrored what happened at Mt. Hood in the summers. Facilities included a full size pipe along with a mini pipe; snowboard park, with jumps and lots of Kurt Heine rails and innovative metal obstacles; including 12’ long mail boxes, fun box, and logs; all custom built. Joey Boisineau and the diggers took care of the hand dug pipes and Mike Parillo from Volcom was in charge of the park. Our Alpine program was still a part of camp (it was different activity and a separate attitude from the freestyle side). Future pros were campers; like Danny Kass, Jason Borgstead.

There was High Cascade summer snowboard footage in all the must-see snowboard videos incl TB2, Lunch, Project 6, Up the Ante and Alive We Ride. Mack Dawg and crew were at the camp a few times in the summer.

Adult Camp 2nd annual: HCSC moved the Adult program to Mt. Bachelor/Bend with two Spring sessions at the end of April and beginning of May. Central Oregon off-hill activities were a hit with the adults.

PROS: JD Platt, Matt Cummins, Gaia Dabbeni, Todd Richards, Tina Basich, Mike Basich, Mike Estes, Shannon Dunn, Kris Jamieson, Randy Walters, Shannon, Scott Downey, Cody Dressor, Shannon Haymes, Hillary Mayberry, and Doug Scanlan.  

Guest Pros: Jamie Lynn, Circe Wallace, Bryan Iguchi, Jimi Scott, Joe Curtes, Temple Cummins, Tarquin Robbins, Sebu Kuhlberg, and Andy Hetzel. Mt. Hood was a must show for almost every industry pro.

ACTIVITIES: Off-hill we had two mini ramps and a vert ramp; all in Govt Camp. Brian Besold was ramp manager. Todd Richards and Brian dominated HCSC’s vert ramp. We still had a street course on Olive St. We offered Mt. Biking, rafting, trampoline training, and other camp activities. Beginner skate program became a big hit; geared towards beginners and beginner women. The camp purchased a Mastercraft wakeboard boat and moored it on Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon. Greg Nelson, K2 pro, ran the program. HCSC was still the only camp located in Government camp.

Sponsors: Burton, K2, Lamar, Morrow, Avalanche, Rossingol, Da Kine, Mistral, Sorel, Mistral, Kemper, F2, Luxary, Haz Mat, Powell, Ton A’ Wa Wa, Hauser, Never Board, Aunt Mables, Snowboarder, Transworld Snow Boarding, and Smith.

Competition: Windells, USSTC and Mt. Hood Snowboard Camp. All were still based outside of central Government Camp (Windells had Japanese at Huckleberry Inn again). Windells was HCSC’s strongest competitor.

The Demo Room with all the new 1995 equipment was impressive and free for all campers to use. Pat Malendoski worked in the Demo Room and was affiliated with Burton.

Sessions (8 total): Three 10 day sessions, Five 7 day sessions.

Cost: $1050 for 10 day sessions. $775 for 7 day sessions.

1995 – 1999: These were some golden years. Our attendance exploded to 200 plus campers per session, HCSC bought and brought the Pipe Dragon to Mt. Hood. We moved to the center of Government Camp to Cascade Ski Club. Government Camp was never the same. It was quite amazing. We figured out HR and hiring and the High Cascade Staff Community was born. The camp started to make money. Govy was the coveted place to stay while riding at Timberline for campers and staff. Igari Fumataka and Creek was our pipeline for Japanese campers. Igari printed a Japanese brochure. Most Japanese campers were passionate riders, all over 21. I remember our Japanese business was 20% of total business. Camper return business was strong. Kids came and experienced more than a Rad snowboard/skateboard experience. HCSC through it’s amazing staff really changed lives. Parents also recognized this component. Campers returned home as better young adults/citizens.

Future Stars: Future Managers and owners appeared in these years as front-line employees: ToNINO, AERA, JAMES JACKSON, PAT MALENDOSKI, VICTORIA MALENDOSKI, AMI V, PRESTON STROUT, KEVIN ENGLISH, CHRIS COYLE, CHRISTINE SPERBER, And many other key employees. A trend was HCSC summer employee’s tenure was way over other summer camp norms. Typical tenure was 6, 7, 8 years. The HCSC community was special.

SUMMER 1995: Greg Goulet was on the brochure cover. Camp sessions were essentially full. We had a real year-round office in Bend. The office moved each summer to Mt. Hood. Camp set up was a big endeavor. Ramp Crew was born. New Snowboard companies were created and appeared, and Mt. Hood was a must location to market and develop product: Joyride, Fishpaw, Evol, Checker Pig….

Facilities included a 14’ full size pipe along with a 10’ mini pipe; both hand dug and shaped every session; snowboard park with jumps, transfers and lots of rails and innovative metal obstacles; including 12’ long mail boxes, fun box, and logs; all custom built. Kurt Heinie was a main rail and metal obstacle supplier. Our Alpine program was still a part of camp albeit, a small part. We had an on-hill PA system and a video tent for camper video review.

High Cascade summer snowboard footage was n all the must-see snowboard videos incl TB3, Transworld Video Magazine #2 Lunch, Victims, Random Access, Broke and Penniless, Hoodlums #2 and riding.

PROS: JD Platt, Matt Cummins, Gaia Dabbeni, Todd Richards, Tina Basich, Mike Basich, Mike Estes, Shannon Dunn, Kris Jamieson, Randy Walters, Shannon, Scott Downey, Cody Dresser, Shannon Haymes, Hillary Mayberry, Doug Scanlan, Tami Bieber, Rob Dow, Seth Neary, Greg Goulet, Christie Elder, Athena, Deven Walsh, Jim Rippey, Dave Downing, Lael Gregory. Temple Cummins, Tarquin Robbins, and more. The line up was amazing!!

Guest Pros: Terje Haakonsen, Daniel Franck, Jeff Brushie, Ingemar Beckman, Peter Line, Brian Iguchi, Noah Brandon, Jason Ford, Sebu Kuhlberg.  

ACTIVITIES: Were the same as 1994 and always improving, except the street skate facilities were at the 12-k sq. ft lot and the rear of Cascade Ski Club in Govt. Camp. Paintball was added.

Sponsorship:  Sponsorship exploded. We started to realize the value of companies being associated with the HCSC brand/community

Sessions (8 total): Three 10-day sessions, Five 8-day sessions.

Adult Sessions at Mt Bachelor: Three 7-day sessions including All Women’s Camp. Adult camps were iconic. Bend/Bachelor as the showcase city/resort.

Competition: Windells, USSTC and Mt. Hood Snowboard Camp. we noticed Windells (Tim Windell) was the only other camp that realized the potential and made improvements in a market that was growing.   

SUMMER 1996: HCSC choose a collage for the brochure cover. Kris Jamieson’s father, Robert, produced the brochure. Camp sessions were still full. We still had a real year-round office in Bend. The office moved each summer to Mt Hood. Camp set up was a big endeavor. Ramp Crew started 5 weeks before camp. Cascade Ski Club and the surrounding real estate was a blank canvas for Skateboarding, trampolines and meeting facility. Joe Beebe - Camp director, Fran Russo - Base Operation Manager, Christine Sperber - On-hill Supervisor, Aaron Mallory - Head House Monitor, Kenyon Robinson – Halfpipe manager, Kalei Pitcher – Snowboard Park designer, John Ingersoll – general Manager, John Calkins – CFO.

Facilities: on and off-hill improved every year. The on-hill parks exploded. The camp store became legit offering clothing, skate gear and the advent of HCSC branded clothing was born.

HCSC Exclusive Video Release. HCSC created “SnoZone Boarding and Video” and filmed and produced “Alternative Motion”. The anchor was a 10k sale to the Japanese market. American distribution was modest, but brisk. Our competition were established companies like Mack Dawg. We were outmatched, and the endeavor was fun and featured Summer footage as the established Mack Dawg type companies wanted fresh and exclusive footage.

PROS: Refer to 1995 and add Tricia Byrnes, and several others. HCSC realized pros were not always the most focused coaches. We started hiring more coaches that were not pursuing pro careers. It was a future trend.

Guest Pros Listed: Daniel Franck, Jeff Brushie, Peter Line, Sebu Kuhlberg, Jeremey Baye. Others showed up as our on-hill facilities shined.

ACTIVITIES: Activities were the same as 1995 and always improving.

Sponsorship: Sponsorship exploded. Our end-of-session product give-away became bountiful and legendary.

Sessions (8 total): Four 10-day sessions, Four 8-day sessions.

Adult Sessions at Mt Bachelor: Two 7-day Spring sessions and two 7-day Winter sessions at Bend/Mt.Bachelor.

Competition: Windells, USSTC and Mt. Hood Snowboard Camp.  

SUMMER 1997: HCSC brochure was in booklet format and the cover was generic and branded. The brochure was in calendar format. HCSC BROUGHT THE PIPE DRAGON TO MT. HOOD. WE WERE THE ONLY CAMP WITH SUCH A MACHINE and PAT MALENDOSKI was the operator. Pat became the park groomer and designer. The facilities under Pat’s and Tonino’s guidance = excellence. Our Coach and Guest Pro line up was who’s who in snowboarding. Every pro made at least one Mt. Hood appearance. Employees were motivated and returned year after year. Government camp was a cool defacto campus.

High Cascade also started the Mt. Bachelor, Central Oregon USASA Halfpipe and Slopestyle series and named it “Enter the Dragon”.

Igari Fumataka, owner of Creek was innovative, cared about his clients and Japanese business thrived.  

Sessions (8 total): Three 10-day sessions & Five 8-day sessions.

Cost: 10- Day Chalet package $1475. Cascade lodge package $1350. 8 - Day Chalet package $11250. Cascade lodge package $1150

Summer 1998: The Brochure was in booklet format and the theme was “The Stars that make High Cascade Snowboard Camp Shine”. Victoria Malendoski was Gm and put her stamp on HCSC. Our Sponsorship morphed from product sponsorship to Cash and product. Vans was added to the sponsor list. Camp was big and grossing over 2 million dollars and profitable.

We spent much time and effort on HR and hiring was rigorous. We had 1,500 applications annually for a staff of 120. I believe we had implemented a pre-employment drug testing program. Employee quality soared. The High Cascade Staff family was strong. The camper to staff ratio was 2-1. We were accredited by ACA (American Camping Association). Camper numbers were right at 200 per session.

Sessions: There were seven sessions; four 10-day sessions and three 8-day sessions.

All base facilities and services were stellar: Food, activities, transportation. HCSC was a magical place to be. Government camp was electric. Cool camp activities included arts and crafts, skate contests, and other fun non-endemic activities.

HCSC purchased the land for the future location of Boardwalk Lodge.

Summer 1999: HCSC’s Ten Year Anniversary. HCSC’s brochure was in booklet format and the cover featured Todd Richards. Victoria Malendoski was Gm. Planet Design owner, Pat Malendoski, designed and built the freestyle facility including three halfpipes and HCSC’s signature snowboard park. Most Campers and staff rode the Timberline chair once and hiked and stayed at the HCSC pipe/park facility all day. The coaching was amazing. The facilities and systems were complex and impressive. HCSC was known for rapid camper freestyle improvement. High Cascade’s growth was Organic and camp from creative thinking from management and employees. Camp was immersed and thrived in Government Camp. In some respects HCSC “took over” Govy. Business at all the local Govy businesses boomed.

All the on and off-hill facilities expanded. Dodge ball was added. We had BMX bikes. Demo room had over 200 snowboards. We had a pontoon boat to complement our Wakeboard program. It took 5 weeks to set up camp and 6 days to tear it down. HCSC systems were complex. We had a full-time nurse with a Nurse’s quarters with EMT’s as back ups.

HCSC’s signature “Goods to Buy” complimented the camp store. The camp store was quite impressive.

The Bend Adult camps in late April and early July were thriving and at capacity.

Boardwalk Lodge was built and completed just in time for the 1999 summer season. It was designed as a custom camp lodge with a commercial kitchen able to handle 400 plates per meal. It was a million dollar building (actual cost).

HCSC had 200 plus campers per session. Camp owned two lodges, Boardwalk Lodge and Red Roof, and rented 30 additional chalets;13 big camper chalets and 17 staff chalets. Camp owned and operated 26 vehicles, including thirteen 15-passenger vans and four mini vans and four big branded busses. Vans and busses had pet names like the Bustache, the Last Unicorn, and The Experience.

camp employed 100 plus staff including 34 coaches. 2 to 1 camper ratio was the norm. Staff training was comprehensive. Guest Pro numbered at least 35 including: Todd Richards, Peter line, Terry Kidwell, Jeff Brushie, CaraBeth Burnside, Daniel Franck, and Jim Rippey to name a few.

It could be argued and I agree, High Cascade was an amazing and magical place to attend.. and possibly the greatest snowboard camp ever. Campers agreed, Parents agreed, Staff and Pros agreed, Vans Inc agreed.

1999 was the last year John Ingersoll and John Calkins owned the camp together. Vans Inc purchased Camp and all assets from John and John; the purchase closed on July 28, 1999.

The deal was pitched to Vans from a satisfied HCSC employee (Chuck Pearce’s girlfriend) as she went on to be one of Van’s skate pro team managers. She pitched it to Vans as purchasing a marketing tool and a core snowboard/skateboard community. Happy and satisfied staff = happy campers and sometimes other benefits.  

Steve Van Doren and Gary Schoenfeld were now the corporate leaders from Vans. Vans kept all existing management including Victoria Malendoski as GM. John Ingersoll and John Calkins were now employees as facilities director and financial director respectively.

AN INCREDIBLE FIRST 10-YEAR JOURNEY. IT WAS MAGICAL, CHALLENGING AND REWARDING BEYOND ANY LIFE EXPERIENCE I HAVE HAD TO DATE (and I have had many amazing experiences and endeavors before and since).

—John ingersoll