My name is Blake Williams and I’m 12 years old. Because my dad kind of has a cool job (he owns this website), I had the opportunity to go to wakeboard camp two years ago when I was 10. Because we live in California, West Coast Camps seemed like the obvious choice. I was going with a friend of mine, Jack, and he had been to this camp before, so that made me feel better about being away from my family for so long.
I’m happy I went because it was the best week of my life. My dad even showed up the last night to check out the camp. We wrote an article about it that summer.
I REALLY wanted to go to West Coast Camps again the next year. I begged my dad to let me go again. Since he’s a bit of a hard ass (he wrote that part), he made me save up enough money to pay for half the camp! Luckily, I have a job working for some of our neighbors, so I was able to get the money together just in time for last summer’s camp.
This time around, Jack and I were joined by two of my other friends, Alex and Carson. That made the seven-hour drive to Lake McClure a pretty cool road trip. The trip back was even better, but I’ll save that for later.
Once we arrived at the lake, we were greeted by the same great crew that has been running West Coast Camps for as long as anyone can remember; owners Mike and Monica Schwenne (not even Mike knows how that’s pronounced), B-Rad (Brad Larkin), Stache (Ryan Block), BG (Brandon George) and Lyman (Conor Bayuk). The flotilla of pickle-forked MB boats surrounded the cool three-houseboat setup, but the location was different.
Apparently, because the camp is mobile, they set it up in a different place on the lake each year just to keep things interesting. Luckily, Lake McClure has plenty of protected areas for WCC to anchor up at, so it’s always in a great spot. I was happy to see the “Blob” was floating right there next to the houseboats. The combination of the Blob and the coaches (especially BG) ejected many students to ridiculous heights the previous year, so I was hoping for more of the same.
At camp, everybody gets a nickname, even the coaches. Mine is B2, Alex’s is Chipwill, Carson is C2 and, as I mentioned before, Jack’s is Whip.
A day at West Coast Camps is jam-packed with so much fun and activity, we couldn’t wait to get started. With three rides a day for every student, the first order of business was to get in the water and show the coaches that I hadn’t lost any of the skills that they taught me the previous summer. In fact, I had used the end of camp “notes” they provide to work on some things while I was away, so, hopefully, I was a better rider than when I left the year before.
We all worked on a lot of stuff behind the boat during the week. I got my 180’s down and started working on 360’s. Plus, I started doing 180’s and grabs off the Fun Box rail. I had a really good time on that. We also did some wakesurfing. Some of the highlights included Flipper landing his 360 and Waldo landing his tantrum.
Although it’s a blast riding and watching others ride, the breaks between rides are also a lot of fun. It seems like there’s more to do each year. Stand up paddleboards, swimming, fishing (Jack caught a whopper), paddleboats, trampoline, the Blob and lots more stuff kept us really busy. We even had a marathon relay race around the houseboats that combined paddle boarding, swimming and paddle boating. I’d tell you about the B-Rad challenge, but then he’d kill me. You’ll have to go to find out.
Watching the coaches ride is amazing! The entire staff of West Coast Camps could probably be professional riders if they wanted to. They really look amazing with all their tricks, flips, grabs, tweaks and big air they get. They are just as good at wakesurfing and that’s even better to watch because they are so close. I hope that someday I can ride like that. Maybe I can even teach at WCC when I’m older!
The amazing food served by Valerie, Monica and the rest of the cooking crew is what really keeps us going and gives us the energy to keep going all day long. She must put something extra in the coaches food because they’re pretty old (I heard Mike is in his 30’s) and they manage to put up with us kids for five very long days. We cooked two of the catfish we caught, but I didn’t eat any.
After the sun went down, the activities didn’t slow down one bit. We would play Mind Games, Mafia, Ninja, Assassin and lots more. Sometimes the coaches are playing games with us until pretty late! On the very last night, we actually had a bonfire on top of one of the houseboats. I didn’t think that was possible, but it was pretty cool. We told stories and Lyman played guitar.
At the end of each day, we’re all very tired! Even though we all sleep under the stars on the top of the houseboat, we don’t get to look at those stars for very long before we’re fast asleep dreaming about doing it all again the next day.
To make this year’s trip even more special, when our dads picked us up on Friday they had a special surprise. We drove straight from camp to the new cable park near Sacramento called Wake Island and we all got to ride and hit the rails and kickers. Then we stayed in a hotel and went to the Pro Wakeboard Tour then next day in Lathrop. We met lots of pros and had a great time. However, we were so exhausted by the end of the day that I think we all slept the entire seven-hour trip home. That’s what I call a perfect ending to a perfect week.
I just wanted to finish by thanking the Schwennes and all the coaches for another “greatest week of my life.” Hopefully, 2014 will be another amazing adventure up at West Coast Camps.