"Cutter's Camp was amazing. In fact, it was invaluable. I am able to walk away with several items that can be implemented immediately. As a general manager it provided great insight into many areas that our resort would have had major struggles with." - '15 Camper
"I believe this is a valuable assest for growth in our industry. It is crucial for us to all sit down and help us to grow industry-wide. I am humbled by this experience and feel as though without something like Cutter's Camp we will never allow ourselves to learn and experience new things." - '14 Camper
"This was the best learning experience I have ever had!" - '14 Camper
"The connection and opportunity to discuss issues with other park managers and freestyle terrain staff makes this conference a tremendous resource for our particular part of the industry." - '13 Camper
"Cutter's Camp was excellent! My experience here was very affirming and educational. I learned some new things like progression and terrain based learning, but mostly, I gained confidence knowing I am taking the right approaches at my resort." - '13 Camper
"This was my first time at camp, wasn't sure what to expect, and ended up being blown away by the time and effort everyone put into it. The panelists were open, knowledgeable and helpful as well as very knowledgeable. I had a great time. Thank you." - '13 Camper
Cutter's Camp 2015 Recap
Cutter's Camp took place at two locations in 2015: Loon Mountain, April 12-14, and Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood, May 12-14. Between the two camps, more than 80 resorts from North America, Japan and Denmark were represented. The eastern camp ran two and a half days, and the western camp five days—including an on-hill build on the famous Mt Hood.
Both camps kicked off with demos of Prinoth and PistenBully's latest machines and a Burton welcome event and presentation by special guest, Mary Walsh, online editor for Snowboarder Magazine. Mary shared insider tips on how park managers can get their hard work represented through the social media channels and in industry magazines.
The second day of both camps featured terrain park case studies that covered the hurdles and opportunities park managers encounter. Solutions of all sizes were presented by the presenters: Ken Gaitor, Snowshoe, W.Va.; Kevin Laverty, Keystone, Colo.; Logan Stewart, Timberline, Ore.; Jay Scambio, Boyne Resorts; Corey Tredtin, Killington, Vt.; and Mike Bettera, SPT. These case studies covered TP training programs, operating with challenging weather or limited resources, creating a budget, benchmarking for success, and communication between departments, among other issues.
The new sections of the NSAA Freestyle Terrain Notebook were presented and then applied on-hill by members of the Terrain Park Task Force, including Jay Scambio, Elia Hamilton, Irv Scher, Jake Shealy, Mike Bettera and Josh Chauvet. In the on-hill workshop of the Notebook Practicum, campers broke into small groups and measured two features, then compared the data together as a group. The session provided a chance to gain an understanding of the role of jump measurement and the accident investigation process and gave campers a better understanding of industry-accepted terminology and design considerations as presented in the Notebook.
Risk management is always a big topic at both camps. This year discussions centered around two recent court cases with key takeaways: Malloy v. Belleayre and Mountain High v. McLaughlin. Representatives from Wells Fargo and Willis made the presentation, along with Elia Hamilton of Peak Resorts who served as an expert witness in one of the cases. At the Timberline camp, this session was followed by mock depositions of two unsuspecting campers by ASDA attorney Ruth Nielsen of Keating Bucklin & McCormack. Her tough questions about the "what" and "why" of their role as park managers in these incidents was a real eye opener.
Risk, liability and safety procedures were also addressed in several breakout discussions. Other breakout topics included man-made features, cat maintenance and operation, jump science, TP data and metrics, feature construction, planning and communication, snow science and snowmaking in the park, planning your park, electronic management of terrain parks, marketing and social media.
Other popular sessions included "The She-conomy of Terrain Parks," presented by Oakley's Jenny Messing, Mary Walsh of Snowboarder, and Burton's Erin Blaisdell. This trio led campers into an in-depth discussion of how to nurture the influential and lucrative female market. Park programs and events aimed at women and kids are on the rise, they said, and are proven to add to the bottom line. Said one camper, "They provided an amazing perspective that I had not considered before in our male-dominated sport."
On the final day of sessions, the business of progression was discussed, and in the East, applied in an on-hill workshop. This session, presented by Joe Hession and Chris Hargrave of SNOW Operating in the west and by Hugh Harley of SNOW Operating and Burleigh Sunflower of Bromley, Vt. in the east, addressed how to increase customers in the park and the importance of attracting never-evers through learning terrain, and how to build and maintain it. Additionally in the west, Ken Gaitor hosted the popular Terrain Park Managers Roundtable, Geoff Boswick presented a workshop on the use of Google Sketch Up, and SPT presented terrain park metrics. A very full day of sessions ended with a fun trip to Windells to let off some steam.
The on-hill build, only offered at the Timberline camp, included an on-hill station matrix that rotated campers through different areas where they could advance their skills in a variety of freestyle construction aspects.
Of course, it would not be true camp without ending each day with fun activities and the chance to engage over meals to share knowledge and experiences.
The meals, activities, expertise, and grooming machines at Cutter's Camp are possible through the generous support of our sponsors: Burton, EdgeAuditor, HKD Snowmakers, One Risk, PistenBully, Prinoth, SNOW Operating, Blackstrap and Snow Park Technologies. And, a thanks to Wells Fargo for their Cutter's Camp Education Grant, which gives one camper at each camp the gift of a free trip back to camp next year.
One camper summed up what has been the experience of many at Cutter's Camp over the years, saying, "I gained so much valuable knowledge and insight about the industry that I want to bring home and implement at my hill." Another camper echoed the sentiment: "Camp was revolutionary. My passion was brought back! After poor snow seasons our company has been hurting. This experience gave me my ‘why' back. I feel absolutely capable of returning to my resort and succeeding! Cutter's has literally brought the fun back for me, with a challenge to use these tools and knowledge to better our park and mountain!"