Summer camp teaches next generation of trail riders, stewards

(Photos: Dan Kaufman/CrankMyChain! CycleTV)

The Northwest Trail Alliance recently wrapped up their first ever kids summer camp last week. The Portland-based non-profit teamed up with lots of local and national partners to put 20 kids on bikes (donated by the Bureau of Transportation) for the three-day camp to learn all the essential skills of off-road riding — including how to take care of trails and riding areas.

The kids ventured from the Ventura Park Pump Track and Powell Butte Nature Park in Portland, to the budding trail system that’s emerged at Sandy Ridge and Cascade Locks (in the Columbia River Gorge).

NWTA’s director of advocacy, Tom Archer called the camp a “huge success.”

In addition to learning off-road riding basics from Michelle Emmons and Matt McPharlin (who came up from the Dirt Dojo in Oakridge to participate), Hillary and Joshua Hutchens (from The Lumberyard) and Joel Holly (from the BTA), campers also heard from local experts about how to be good environmental stewards. They met a trail builder at Powell Butte, learned about natural species conservation thanks to an Audubon Society volunteer, and they heard from a Bureau of Land Management staffer.

Joshua Hutchens said volunteering at the camp was rewarding on many levels. “We were able to expose kids from very diverse backgrounds to a sport that just isn’t very accessible from this city and the idea that they could ride their bikes in the dirt was pretty foreign to most of them.” While a bit shaky the first day, Joshua and other volunteers all report that the kids made solid progress on their bikes and learned some valuable lessons (like how to yield to horses, and how to build trails that blend with natural features).

But the camp also highlighted a sad fact for young Portlanders: “In reality, the kids don’t have access to the trails without a parent driving them out there, so their new found excitement was kind if bittersweet. It was as if we’d taken them and gotten them hooked on surfing.”

Read more about the camp on the NWTA’s website.

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