There’s no shortage of biking opportunities in Whatcom County. If you’re looking to get your children on the right track, here are a couple of summer camps to improve their skills:
For those seeking off-road recreation, March Northwest provides a youth mountain bike camp for riders aged 7 to 13.
Shaums March, co-owner of March Northwest and the camp’s main instructor, says the goal is to provide kids with the encouragement to bike properly and safely, giving children and their parents confidence in their abilities.
The five-day camps occur once a month in June, July and August, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and are split into two segments. The first two days are an introductory course in mountain bike fundamentals and trails, with the next three days accommodating any riders wishing to continue, as well as more experienced youth up to age 18.
March says riders get more trail time and learn skill progressions for features, such as steeper terrain and jumps. Students are taught in a controlled environment before applying their skills to actual trails. There’s also an afternoon of bike maintenance and a day of building jumps.
“They get a little mix of everything,” March says.
Quite a few times, we’ve heard from parents about how this is really impacting their kids’ whole life, not just their active life.
Shaums March, co-owner of March Northwest
Camp turnout features 15 to 20 children. They’re encouraged to bring their own equipment, but extra helmets, pads and bikes are available.
Seeing young children grow in their confidence on a bike, March says, can translate to other areas of their life.
“It shows in school; it shows with their friends,” he says. “Quite a few times, we’ve heard from parents about how this is really impacting their kids’ whole life, not just their active life.”
March teaches the camp along with other instructors, all of whom are trained and certified by March, a lead instructor-trainer for the United States arm of the International Mountain Bicycling Association.
Costs for the camp range from $150 to $350. For more information, visit their website at www.marchnorthwest.com.
Those interested in more urban peddling can try an adventure camp put on by Whatcom Smart Trips.
The daily camp, for riders 12 to 14, runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the weeks of June 26, July 10 and July 17. It costs $60 and is limited to 16 kids per session.
The camp is taught by Kirsten Wert, programs coordinator for Smart Trips.
Wert says the camp’s goal is to give kids the skills needed to make independent trips, whether with friends or by themselves, via bicycle and bus.
Children should bring their own bikes and helmets, but several loaner bikes are available. The first day of camp includes a mechanical check to ensure all bikes are road-ready.
The bike-intensive portion of the camp includes learning how to ride on trails and streets, as well as through a roundabout. Students learn how to use hand signals and where to be most visible for cars.
This is being predictable so cars know what you’re going to do, and that’s what’s going to keep you safe.
Kirsten Wert, programs coordinator for Smart Trips
“This is road-riding,” Wert says. “This is being predictable so cars know what you’re going to do, and that’s what’s going to keep you safe.”
The final day of camp includes a scavenger hunt across town via bus. Kids are split into groups of four, with a high school supervisor to watch them, but they aren’t guided by anyone.
“They really have to make all the decisions themselves,” she says. “That’s the whole goal.”
In the end, she hopes it helps both parents and children.
“Parents want a little more freedom from everywhere they need to go,” she says. “These are just great skills.”
Registration for the camp can be found on the City of Bellingham website’s leisure guide under “EZ Reg.”