There is nothing quite like going to summer camp while growing up as a kid. Nonstop camp activities, meeting new friends and staying up way past the assigned bed time are coveted memories.
Camp Woodward is not like your typical summer camp though. Campers may still engage in nonstop activities and stay up way past their bedtimes, but instead of tug-of-war competitions, water balloon fights and beach volleyball games, Camp Woodward is more focused on nailing rail slides and landing kickflips.
For years Woodward has provided summer camps throughout the summer to young skateboarders, skiers and riders who want to improve their skills while still getting a summer camp experience.
Professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler first attended a Woodward camp when he was 7 years old, and he has since been part of the Woodward family for the past 24 years.
Last year, Sheckler was a part of the 11th season of “Camp Woodward” — a reality show that first aired in 2008 and has showcased the progression of skateboarding through the lens of young skateboarders.
For the past 11 seasons, the show has been solely filmed at the Woodward location in State College, Pennsylvania, but for the show’s 12th season, the Woodward team — alongside Sheckler as the host — decided to take the filming of the show on the road.
Sheckler’s Sandlot Times Tour, the Woodward team and this year’s four campers hit the road in early June en route to all five of the Woodward locations spread across the U.S.
The four campers first visited Woodward West in Tehachapi, California before traveling to Woodward Tahoe, Woodward Park City and for the second to last stop, Woodward Copper, at Copper Mountain Resort from Monday, July 25, to Tuesday, July 26.
“I think it was a mix of showing how many different Woodwards there are and kind of hitting that Woodward is just not a skateboarding camp or a gymnastics camp,” Sheckler said. “Being able to have skate options but to be able to go mountain bike, to go jump on the trampolines, to go try BMX biking if you want to — our goal was to show the different aspects of what Woodward is and all you can do when you are at camp.”
For Sheckler and many of the young campers, it was the first time they had visited Summit County and been to Copper Mountain Resort. Besides spending time in the Woodward Copper Barn skateboarding, Sheckler and campers got the full Summit County experience by getting to ride go-karts, take a trip down Copper’s Rocky Mountain Coaster and even go snowboarding.
“I liked the snowboarding,” Kristion Jordan, 14, said. “This camp has probably been the most unique to me because of the snowboarding. There was no snowboarding anywhere else (on the tour), and to snowboard in the summer is crazy.”
For Sheckler “Camp Woodward” has been successful for the last 14 years because of the authenticity of the show.
“It is wholesome and real,” Sheckler said. “It’s not scripted television where you can see that some things are funky. This is actually an in depth look at the lives of four kids, four campers and you kind of get to watch as these kids become friends.”
Like other summer camps, the show also offers the opportunity for campers to make lifelong friendships and bonds. This season’s cast consists of Jordan, Mia Lovell, Julian Jeang-Agliardi and Kendra Long.
“Everyone has been so nice,” Jeang-Agliardi, 12, said. “When a kid meets a kid, they become best friends. That’s kind of what happened, and now we have formed into a family.”
“I think it’s good for skateboarding and especially for the youth of skateboarding to see that these kids were strangers, but from skating together they have become really close friends,” Sheckler said. “That’s what skateboarding is. It is an individual sport, but you always skateboard with your homies.”
Beyond serving as the host of the show, Sheckler also serves as a mentor and role model for the campers.
“Ryan is such a great role model,” Lovell, 15, said. “He’s an amazing skater. He’s a great guy. He is so good with all the kids and everything. It makes me want to be like him when I am older.”
“It feels like a complete blessing from God that I am still skateboarding, that I still have some sort of good influence on these kids and the youngsters coming up,” Sheckler said.
At the conclusion of every filming location, Sheckler, the Sandlot Times Tour and the Sheckler Foundation give back to various organizations. Outside the Woodward Copper Barn on Tuesday July 26, Sheckler presented a $5,000 check to the Chill Foundation in order to help with the organization’s mission to inspire youth riders to overcome challenges through boardsports.
“Camp Woodward” will take a brief hiatus before resuming filming at the final Woodward location in Pennsylvania the second week of August. The final stop will allow campers the opportunity to show off all the skills they have learned since the show began filming in June.
“The kids are already so much better, and I think that is going to be what happens once we get to PA,” Sheckler said. “It’s almost like these kids are training right now to be ready for PA. Next month is going to be awesome. We are going to have some fun. That’s my favorite part.”
Season 12 of “Camp Woodward” will be available to watch on the Woodward Youtube channel following the completion of filming.