words and photos by Tarrah Robillard
Camp of Champions is the unpretentious, hidden secret of snowboard camps. Located in Whistler, British Columbia, this place is a summer snowboard mecca. Maybe everyone else has heard of it and I must have been living under a rock to have missed this camp in my inbox, regardless, I am glad that it found me. From the beginning everyone working at COC was down to earth, helpful and extremely real. Maybe the reason this snowboard camp is not all up in everyone’s face is because the experience speaks for itself. Here’s a little advice for planning your trip to Camp of Champs from my experience.
Start Planning Early
Unless you have money for days, take advantage of COC’s payment plans and early bird deals. December is a good time to start looking at the website to see what camp you might be interested in. Register early and reap the benefits of hundreds off your price. My gal pals and I opted for ladies week with no coaching. We lodged with COC at Whistler Peak Lodge. We payed about $1000 USD for camp with accommodations.
Rolling out of the Seattle airport in style with your passport, your gear, and your friends in a minivan rental that you can all split the price on. Send it to the border and onto Vancouver for food and a whole lot of Ey’s. After your travels, you will surely be famished. Check out the best oyster bar in Gastown, East side Vancouver, called Rodney’s Oyster (make sure you tell them you are an oyster virgin). Opting to spend a night in the city is worth it and then make your way to Whistler the next morning, mimosa’s in hand.
Once You’re There
The best part about staying at Whistler Peak Lodge is the proximity to everything. Definitely grab yourself some poutine right off the lift and check out all the mountain bike babes (thanks for that advice Meg Clinton). Take time to walk down to the lake in the afternoon to see groups of kids fishing, people cooking in the park and to experience Whistler life outside of snowboarding. Don’t be a tourist, become a local. Make it your trip and own it.
On the Mountain
There are three chairlifts before you are even on the glacier, just bump some beats. Bring warm layers and a jacket. I brought a small Nixon Blaster for music, water, lunch, sunscreen, sunglasses (a must) and a SUPER POSITIVE ATTITUDE! Show up everyday for first chair and stay on the glacier as long as you possibly can. You are going on the trip to get better at something you love, not to sit in a hot tub.
Get a Tattoo
Our fourth night we were feeling the need to cut loose and spend some cash out in the local night scene. This, naturally, led to our fifth day being pretty groggy. So, when we woke up to down pouring rain, we skipped the hill. A “down day” we called it. The idea of tattoos kept coming up in conversation. Stumbling into Whistler Tattoo Company, to our delight the two tattoo artists had cancelations that day and within an hour we all had “Inukshuck” stone statue tattoos.
These landmarks can be seen all over the mountain and were used by the Inuit and other peoples of the North American arctic regions as land markers. We choose the Inukshuck because life is a journey and for us it symbolized “someone was here, you are on the right path. May you be safe in your journeys and find your way safely home”. For me it was not just a memory of the trip but a reminder that I am right where I need to be. You have to learn to go with the flow without getting washed away. Now book your summer trip to Camp of Champions!