The undoubtable success of this year’s Blading Camp organized by Josh Glowicki and his partners Montre Livingston, Scott Quinn, Richie Eisler, Manon Derien and Mery Munoz again reminds us of the importance of promoting rollerblading directly, among the kids and actual enthousiasts who don’t smirk from above at newcomers. Blading Camp, which I am sure will be held again next year with an even larger number of participants, acts as a bridge between what people like Jon Ortiz does with his Go Sports certified blading instruction schools for absolute newcomers to skating in elementary schools and the scene. Blading Camp is an equally important part of the equation for the future success of rollerblading, that Adam Johnson spoke of in his Blader Union interview, grassroots work with kids.
It’s also what Josh is talking about: connecting kids from different countries and helping them create lifelong friendships, which in turn create internationally connected scenes. So, in numbers, what’s the tally of the first Blading Camp, held in Malaga this year?
Words: Josip Jagić
Photography: Alejandra Vinuesa
Innovative in their approach, they had a girls’ exclusive camp in June this year. Josh says that the camp had a total of 24 bladies from 16 countries. Twenty Campers and four of their staff were bladies, including Mery and Manon as the instructors.„I am tremendously grateful for all the help from Melissa Brown who came from the USA and who helped us to organize all the girls to come. A big thank you to Hedonskate who supported our dream by sending 2 of their amazing girl riders to the join us as well“, Josh says.
The largest number of younger campers was in the July slot. „We had such positive feedback from the July and June camps that the number of people trying to sign up to the already sold August camp was huge“, Josh explains, adding that they ended up allowing four extra campers who all happened to be Danish to come making August the biggest and also the hardest of all the camps.
In total, there were nine instructors which rotated around the camps depending on their availability. But it was normally two to four instructors per camp. Josh floated in and out of teaching as he was the main organizer and had to focus on the logistics side of it all. When the time allowed he too helped the “main” instructors, but otherwise he made the time for his #flightschool classes and taught yoga.
So, what did a normal day at Blading Camp look like?
„A normal day of camp was that we would wake up around 9 in the morning, start the day off with a nice dip in our pool. We all lived together in a traditional Spanish Chalet 25 minutes outside of Malaga city center. I mean totally surrounded by nature up high in the mountains. We had breakfast together and by 10ish we had the vans loaded up and were off to our first skatepark. We would have lessons with the coaches for a few hours, film a little before the chef would deliver our lunch to our location. In Spain the hottest part of the day is from 2- 5PM. So during this time we would be be in the cliff jumping, swimming in a beautiful fresh water lake or at the beach. We had tents built to create big shadows everywhere we went beause here in Spain you don’t play with the sun! Continuing the day after lunch break we would hit another skatepark taking a short drive through the beautiful Southern Spanish mountains with breathtaking views everywhere you look. We’d arrive to the next park, do our normal lessons, one-on-one training, yoga and/or flight school. By then the sun had gone down and the campers were fired up to skate. We’d skate until the campers couldn’t skate anymore. We always had a plan of the day but the campers always decided when it was time to move. We’d return home where our #bladingcamp chef would have dinner all prepared on our arrival. After dinner people would swim again or watch movies or just chill and become better friends. Each day followed the same skeleton idea but some days had more adventures prepared and some days we skated more. It was kinda a game to wake up and see how everyone was feeling! Like I said before, I always had a plan for the days…. I just would let the campers decide together which was best for the day! For instance on day during the August camp, the campers all woke up exhausted (duh it’s normal after day 4 of camp) … my plan was two skate parks that day but instead of forcing my schedule on them we group voted and decided to stay at the house for a few extra hours and have lunch, a massive pool party and yoga class“.
As sports camps usually are a breeding ground for talents and a showcase for talent scouts of sorts, it’s no wonder that some kids proved better than others. But, asked about who he could single out as being exeptional, Josh had a really hard time answering that question.
„The thing was that each kid that came was super talented! I’m not going to choose who was the best because I don’t believe in that idea but for sure there were so many young special talents it blew my mind. The Bladies camp had two super amazing young girls, Marion and Anya, who both learned so much during the week as well as a super powerful Bladie from Denmark named Sara! July had the explosive talents of Reuben Collins from Scotland and Felix Fälling from Copenhagen, as well as the french click of Marius and Antoine and Cal, who along with Reubs and Felix formed a squad of super dudes. August camp had Bernard from Copenhagen and Poema from Amsterdam. Both are extraordinarily talented young energies. Poema was recovering from a leg injury was a little bit in chill mode but still pulled out some amazing moves. Jillpe, our youngest camper at 10 years old from Holland was one of the ones who impressed me the most during all the camps. He came down on his own at 10 years old and when I picked him up at the airport he was wearing cool sunglasses and had a huge smile on his face. I knew right then that he was not an ordinary ten year old kid! He learned so much stuff I cant even begin to list it. Like a G. Also, its super important to note that during the August camp we had a large amount of skaters from the ages of 18 -25 who were just starting to skate. And these young shredders also really impressed me with the amount of confidence and tricks that they learned, showing once again that the experience you can have at BladingCamp is something that’s special and applicable to any age or any skill level of skaters.
I’m proud of all the campers cause I was able to see their progress and how much they were able to learn in just a week’s time! Of course it’s hard not to learn when your surrounded by amazing energies such as Mery Muñoz , Manon Derrien, Montre Livingston, Richie Eisler and Scott Quinn“.
BLADING CAMP IN NUMBERS:
65 Campers of ALL AGES
27 female campers
38 male campers
22 different countries from the entire globe including USA, Australia and South America #bladingcampfamily
4000 kilometers driven during the Blading Camp sessions
18 skateparks visited
22,5 kilos of paella eaten
45 kilos of potatos consumed
10 age of the youngest camper
38 age of the oldest camper
Malaga was chosen as the perfect location for Blading Camp for it’s year round summer weather and aboundance of skate spots and skateparks, all located conveniently close to each other.
But the icing on the cake for the campers were all the amazing landscapes and natural beauty of the South of Spain. So the campers didn’t only skate but swam and went to the mountains. They did a seven kilometer walk called the “Camito del Reyes.” It’s famous, attracting people from all over the globe to walk literally on a small small path that scales around breathtaking mountains.
„I have been traveling around the globe teaching skating for the past seven years, since my first Camp (The Gypsy Camps) in Sweden with Montre, Richie and Fred. The dream has always been to link together all the amazing young shredders together. To make them all meet and become homies“, says Josh of his personal Blading Camp experience and the motivation behind it. „For instance, Axel B from Sweden was eleven years old when I met him, and then he was an absolutely beast on skates the following month we did another Gypsy Camp in Scotland where I met Reuben, then one in Belgium and so on. We kept meeting little G’s, little rockstars who were incredibly talented. And we kept saying how cool would it be if little Billy from Sweden could hang out and skate with little Reuben from Scotland. They would be the best of friends and then keep pushing each other to shred harder, we thought. Well seven years later the dream has come true in the form of a huge Gypsy Camp Reunion which we renamed BladingCamp.
What happened was that the end of the July Camp Reuben, Antoine and Felix had become close homies. And a week or so after the end of their camp they had all reunited together to shred in their own home towns. So the most rewarding thing for me is that my dream has been accomplished. The next generation of rockstars are friends and they are already traveling to each other’s cities for contests, jams and just to hang out, proving once again to me that this BladingCamp thing is doing something good for the community. Not only is it super fun for me to organize, teach and skate, but its also creating a solid network of lifetime friends. To me it’s important because what I’m doing now at 32 years old, traveling, going to shows and meeting great people from all over the world, these dudes are now doing at the ages of 13, 14, and 15 years old. What I’m trying to say is that the next generation is light years ahead of us oldies.
The most rewarding thing about the camps is the teaching side of it. I see campers come in who can’t even roll on their skates and at the end of the week they are dropping in or clearing the spine, as one lady who before she arrived told me her dream was to do just that, clear the spine. Well I’m happy to say that with the help and motivation of all the coaches and the campers around, she successfully jumped not just one spine ramp but ever single one we found on tour.
It’s very important also to take a minute to speak about the amazing talent of the older individuals who came to the camp. Blading Camp is not just for kids, its an all ages, all skill level family that provides a safe comfortable environment for all ages of skaters! That being said, we had so many older skaters come that were 25 and older, from all skill levels. Some were Pro level and some were just learning. But each and everyone of them excelled greatly because the environment was tailored for them to feel safe, comfortable and learn. One of the most important aspects of the camp is not just the skating, it’s more a course on life and how to interact socially with people from different cultures, from all around the world. This is something that cannot be taught in a regular school, this is something that one must learn by pure interactions. When I was younger I was a bit socially awkward, as I think a lot of skaters can be. But the home feeling, the Camp environment in every moment pushes the campers to be the best expression of themselves! On or off the blades you’re constantly interacting with happy, friendly people who want to see you succeed, never mind the age.
Organizing such an event that lasts throughout the summer season is no easy feat, Josh admits, but he says the decision to do it was actually the hardest part of it. „Once I passed the first jump, the first fear that I could loose everything I have or the fear to commit to something so large everything was easy. I mean looking back, it’s a bit nuts to think about what we accomplished, really. I mean I put my entire life into this project that includes all my time, my energy, my entire life savings and at times sacrificing my health and my relationship with my amazing partner (thank you love for your patience with me) to make this work. I rented four vans per camp, hired drivers and hoped for the best. But this whole camp was accomplished because of the entire Inline skating community who believed in this dream. We made this entire project without a single sponsor. My biggest, heartfelt thank you goes out to each and every single camper who joined us! You all took a big chance on our dream and I hope you’re happy with the experience, and I promise it will only get better from here. Now that the foundation is set the stars are the limits. I learned so much from this year and too everyone reading this, just be ready for and even bigger and better more well organized experience from each Blading Camp project. Also big thank you Montre, Richie, Mery, Manon, Quinny, Uani, Alejandra, Charlie, Maria, Laura, Chavo and the entire bladingcamp staff and bladingcampfamily we did some absolutely legendary, the feedback is in. 65 campers and 65 happy people who can’t wait for the next project. If you have a friend who joined us, ask them about their experience! You’re all personally invited down to Malaga for the ride of your life. Thank you universe for this one!
„I didn’t really have a favorite instructor because I learned something different from each of them. Josh taught me how to fly, Richie helped me with my grinds and Monte Livingston taught me 360s, switch and fakie. Thanks to my husband Erick for his support and see you at next year’s Blading Camp“. – Gia (28) from Italy
„I made a lot of friends at the Blading Camp and learned how to do spins and grinds“ – Antoine Massa from France
„I learned how to spin better, jump into quarterpipes and a lot more. All the instructors were super friendly and nice to everyone“ – Jippe Pauwels (10), from Holland
„All the instructors at the park were great, and we had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun when we pranked Josh, made him think Bernard hurt himself badly, and Josh freaked out just like a parent would“ – Finn Conghaile (11), from Holland
„I think the camp was very well organised and all the people and food at the camp where sick and also it’s perfect for any age of skaters so yeah it was sick and I can’t wait for next year!“, Reuben Collins, 13, from the UK
„I had the best time ever, and if anyone has the chance to go to Blading Camp DO IT“ – Felix Fälling, 15, from Denmark
„There was so much energy in every moment so I think the main thing i’ve learned was to push each other further to get things done and having a good time no matter when! I will for sure come back next year!“ – Björn Hunger, 19, from Austria