Words by Brandon DesJarlais
The past year or so I’ve become increasingly interested in the idea of longboarding camps. They’re similar to longboarding events but more catered towards beginners and refining their skills in a safe and exciting environment. I’ve heard about Camp Woodwings the past few years, but never had the chance to go. When my Moonshine MFG teammate, Antoine Carlotti, told me he was going this year I had to make it happen.
During this week I met so many incredible people and made some unforgettable memories. After my time at Woodwings finally came to an end, I was strongly convinced we need more longboarding camps like this around the world. For anyone who may not have experienced a camp like this, here are seven reasons why you should sign up for the next one:
1) It's a Safe Learning Environment
Learning how to ride a longboard can be intimidating - especially when the only places to practice are parking lots and open roads. Instead, Woodwings offered two incredible roads which were closed to traffic during the time we were skating. This allowed people to push their limits more comfortably knowing that they wouldn’t have to deal with any unexpected encounters with other vehicles on the road. Additionally, we set up nets and around 30 foam mattresses to secure the course and prevent serious injury. Compared to many other events I’ve been to, the protection and concern that went into safety was top-notch!
2) There Are Designated Instructors
Arguably the best part about Woodwings is that they hire a crew of dedicated instructors from around Europe (and beyond). Of course you’ll learn from others at a traditional event, but by having dedicated instructors makes asking questions about gear and technique much more approachable. I really enjoyed my time coaching the 30+ riders throughout the week and found the process to be very rewarding. Many riders were able to progress quicker than in a traditional setting and saw huge improvements by the end of their stay.
3) They Promote Openness and Inclusivity
Woodwings Camp isn’t just limited to downhill skaters but also freestyle riders, freeborders, and even drift trikers. It’s a great opportunity to try something unique and discover a new passion. I’ve never really had a chance to try freebording or drift-triking until Woodwings and I have to say it was incredibly fun.
4) You Can Be a Tourist in Annecy
Halfway through the week, we set off to explore the gorgeous city of Annecy, France as a group. After three days of skating from 10-6, we all needed a break. Venice-like canals, boutique shops, a gorgeous beach on the lake and a rad skatepark across the street made for a fun and interesting experience. Some chilled at the lake, others skated until dark, while I spent most of the day touring cruising around on my board taking photos and eating delicious French cuisine. This day really added to the event by exposing us to a bit of local culture and giving us a break to recharge and hit the second half of the week harder than ever!
5) They Have a Mini Ramp (and more!)
If you’re feeling a little banged up or just plain want to shred some transition, you can always chill at “The Platform,” where they have a dope mini-ramp and other obstacles set up. Featuring panoramic views of the French alps, this area is home to one of the most gorgeous sights I’ve ever seen. One of the nights we had a big barbecue, listened to music, and all hung out to get to know each other a bit better.
6) There’s a Full Testing Center
One of the unique things that really sets a longboard camp like Woodwings apart from other events is that they had a full testing center of gear for riders to try out. This included different wheels, trucks, decks, and even a full line-up of RipTide bushings allowing riders to tune in their set up and try $100s of dollars worth of gear throughout their visit. I couldn’t tell you how often I see people with awesome set-ups but terrible bushings. Knowing this is arguably the most important (and confusing) part of any set-up, I personally helped half of the riders tune in their bushings. Needless to say - riders were stoked.
7) It’s All Inclusive
Throughout the week the only thing you have to worry about is having fun and skating. Three meals are provided everyday as well as cozy accommodations with other riders in rooms featuring full kitchens and balconies with stellar views of the mountains. The “chill-out area” has hella skate magazines, a few balance boards and a PS4 to keep you entertained when not on the slopes. To top it off, there’s even a Jacuzzi available to catch some vibes and relax after a long day on the hill.
To sum it all up, it was an epic experience and I’d love to see more longboarding camps like this pop up around the world.
All photos shot and authorized to use by Erik Derycke and Brandon Desjarlais.