I slide through the High North park at about nine in the morning. The jumps are x-ed off with bamboo poles and the features are bare. The campers gather in a crowd at the bottom, where camp owner Shane Szocs is overseeing lunch delivery and preparation (menus vary, but each camp has a system of oversized Rubbermaid lunch delivery).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Stretching only works if you do it,Ã¢â‚¬? I hear sarcastically from one of the coaches.
By afternoon, the park opens and morning coaching sessions have turned into jump sessions. Supercoach Chris Turpin sits on his skis and barks orders to campers as they drop. High North runs a tight ship on the glacier and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s evident in their staff. The coaching here is some of the best IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a particularly structured learning environment.
On deck: Colby West is smiling through his sun-shielding balaclava after landing his first double-backflip while NewschoolersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Doug Bishop is looking ridiculous with his bright blue Sunice getup and equally electrifying blue hair. The campers are killing it; 18-year-old Patti Pytlik is spinning over the big table and IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen more backflips in the last twenty minutes than I saw all season at home.
Off the mountain, things are spirited. I meet a group of goggle-tanned campers in the village en route to a movie. The endless possibilities arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t shortchanged; water ramps, trampolines, mountain biking, rock climbing, ultimate Frisbee, wakeboarding, soccer, paintball, and the ever enthralling village stroll are all on the agenda. Dinner changes night-to-night, but with cheap options like Avalanche Pizza and Splitz Grill (fact: best burger ever conceived by a human being), many campers eat out on their own.
Above all other camps in Whistler, High North feels most like a family. On the hill and off, its small size seems to accommodate a closer-knit group of campers.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s magical,Ã¢â‚¬? camper Caleb Mayerson explains to me. Sure, magical.