I wrote a while back about my experience at a girls-only snowboard camp, or rather my lack of experience at it. I felt like that one time just wasn’t enough to give a solid opinion about girls-only snowboard camps and so last year, I committed and booked myself into four camps in New Zealand. Considering the season here is pretty short and I am a total wimp when it comes to doing anything in a terrain park, I’m pretty chuffed with my commitment. I have zero desire to become a park rat or to hit the big kickers, but I knew that any skills that I learnt would make me a better all-mountain rider.
Let me preface this post by saying that when I first heard about girls-only snowboard camps, I didn’t get it. As a self-proclaimed tomboy, an equal rights advocate who tries to do anything a man can do (and yes, I fail often), I didn’t understand why there was a need for girls only snowboard or ski camps. My riding group has always been mixed with usually more testosterone than oestrogen. I wondered if there was a men's only snowboard/ski camp, would they be given a hard time for exclusion?
What makes it specific to women? There’s a lot of marketing spiel about relaxed environments, encouragement, coffee and champagne. I wondered, would we get much riding time in? Why would a girls-only camp be more encouraging? What does that mean? Shouldn’t all snowboard camps be encouraging? What would it be like with that many women in the one spot? Is everyone going to wear pink? Haha, ok it wasn’t that bad but you get my drift.
So I did a little research and it turns out that there are some pretty solid reasons for ladies specific training camps. My favourite explanation of this on the interweb is the article “The Benefits Of An All Girl Snowboard Camp Explained”. Have a read of it if you want to nerd out on the specifics, but in summary:
Males and females are wired differently, like actually wired differently. The connections in the female brain differ from the connections in the male brain. It means that we process things differently.
The research suggests "that male brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action, whereas female brains are designed to better facilitate communication between analytical and intuitive processing modes”. Translated, this means that men are more likely to just give it a go whereas women prefer to think it through, find out more and process the information before committing.
In group scenarios, men work towards individual achievement whereas women will think of achievement as a group effort.
The science and detailed explanation really resonated with me. I was intrigued and wanted to experience it for myself. And that is how I ended up doing four all women's snowboard camps last year - one at Cardrona and three at The Remarkables.
Cardrona - Ngā Wāhine ō te Maunga
Cardrona Alpine Resort held their first-ever women’s only event last year called Ngā Wāhine ō te Maunga for both skiers and snowboarders. It means Women Of The Mountain - what an awesome name. Supported by my favourite snow-loving gal, Miss Snow It All, the participation price is super low at just $25 (lift pass extra) with all funds raised going to Boarding for Breast Cancer.
The day was super casual and relaxed - we met in the morning at The Lounge cafe for a meet and greet before being split into groups based on our different abilities. We then did a few easy laps giving the instructors a bit of time to get a feel for everyone’s ability. Then it was playtime! We chatted about things we would like to learn and what we’d like to improve on. We spent the morning working on all of those things before breaking off for lunch.
After lunch, we were joined by New Zealand pro skiers and snowboarders. What a treat! We got to shred it up and get tips from the pro’s themselves including NZ Olympian Zoi Synnott, Margaux Hackett & Maggie Little. Watching those ladies up close in their Red Bull athlete helmets doing their thing was in itself worth the $$.
At the end of afternoon practice, there were high fives all round and we gathered again at The Lounge bar for some apres and sharing of stoke. Communications Executive and rad snowboarder Jen said a few words of thanks before handing out some kickass swagger from GoPro, Rojo, Dragon Alliance, POW and Mons Royale.
I loved Women of the Mountain. I love what it represents and how it supports such an important cause. My switch riding improved immensely and I managed to ride over a pipe feature (after much encouragement) that I never would have considered doing otherwise.
The Remarkables - Burton Snowbroads
The Remarkables has been running Burton Snowbroads for quite some time now - an all-girls one-day snowboard camp. There is a ski version called Volkl Ski Queens and last year they combined the two into the same event because you know - #skiersandsnowboarderscanbefriends. Burton Snowbroads & Volkl Ski Queens has four events throughout the year and I managed to get to three of those last year.
These events are fully inclusive. They include transport, breakfast, lunch, coaching and champagne on arrival. Yes, I said champagne (or sparkling wine for the purists). Along with my favourite bubbly beverage comes barista coffee and a delicious assortment of breakfast items. I find myself torn with one side of my brain saying eat all the food and the other saying, you are going to vomit on your snowboard if you eat all the food. I settle for the middle ground, a little more than I would normally eat but not to the point that I have to unbutton my snowboard pants. After lots of chatting over breakfast, we are given a briefing as to how the day is going to roll and off we go where we split into different groups.
Between the first couple of laps, we chat as a group about what we’d like to learn and improve on. The way the groups have been split up means that we all pretty much want to learn and improve on similar things. The day is spent working on all of these things. The morning and afternoon session is split up with a lunch break where the food is again so delicious that I am again tormented between eating sensibly or ending up with lunch legs - it’s a real thing.
The coaches took videos to show us what we were and weren’t doing and I was impressed by how effective this was. It makes a world of difference! For example, I could have sworn that I was lifting my legs and popping on the jumps but when I saw the feedback video I had to laugh - it looked like a half assed attempt at best! The next jump after that improved and so did every one after that.
Following the afternoon session, we all regroup in the allocated private area where we had breakfast and lunch. I’m hesitant to say too much at this point, I don’t want to give too much away about the day. I remember the first camp I attended and how much I loved all the little extras at the end so let’s just say there are giveaways, games and some cool comments from each the coaches.
Burton Snowbroads is an extremely well-organised event that runs like clockwork. Here’s my favourite part - all the coaches are female BUT the event is organised and run by a man. Not just any man. The legendary Scott Anfang who I had the pleasure of interviewing last year. He is the driving force behind these girls-only camps and I think that is super rad.
My two major wins from these camps - finally nailing an indy grab and learning to Ollie, a concept my brain previously just couldn’t get around.
SO, ARE ALL GIRLS SNOWBOARDING CAMPS REALLY WORTH IT?
I truly didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. And for someone who is quite the scaredy-cat when it comes to freestyle riding, I’m totally stoked with the progression I made.
Having experienced both a mixed snowboard camp and an all-female one, I can honestly say I get why there are women's specific ski and snowboard camps.
The pace is different and there is less pressure. Now I don’t consider myself a competitive person at all, but I’ll admit that sometimes I do feel the pressure of keeping up with the boys. Particularly if it is in a group of people I don’t know as I don’t want to slow the group down. The boys will want to send it, the girls will want a moment to think about it before they do. Different pace.
The support within the group was really cool. It felt like we were in it together and that individual wins were actually group wins. It felt like you had a whole cheer squad behind you ready to celebrate your wins and ready to pick you up and encourage you if you failed. Regardless of the outcome, the fact that you had a go was cause for celebration and cheers.
Additionally, as referred to in the article, males and females just learn differently. Men link perception and coordinated action whilst women link via analysis and intuition. So the style of coaching is different for girls only camps.
And finally, I ended those days not only with some new skills, but so many LOL moments which I will cherish along some new friends.
Would I still do a mixed freestyle camp? Yes, most definitely but if I could only choose one, I would choose an all-girls one. I am a convert. I look back at my original concerns and slap myself for being a tosser.
Experiences? Questions? Hit me up in the comments below!
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Jen spends most of her time following Mick around the mountain, often unintentionally off jumps and cliff drops. Currently on a mission to prove that you’re never too old to try freestyle. Aside from snowboarding, a little obsessed about tattoos, CrossFit, saving animals, learning to play the guitar and clean eating. Web designer and digital marketing nerd.