Part two of a three-part series
By Wehtahnah Tucker
ENCINITAS — Packing for camp is a typical activity for many young people during the summer months. Yet, most of their packing lists don’t include back pads, knee and elbow pads, gloves, helmets and lots of sports tape.
But, Mitchie Brusco, 14, isn’t your typical teenager by any stretch of the imagination, and the camp he is attending is anything but mainstream.
“I’ve never been one of those kids that likes to be a camper,” he said. “But when the mega was built, I had to go.”
Brusco is used to firsts. He was the youngest athlete at X Games XVII. The 5-foot-1-inch, 95-pound big air skater is just the second person in history to land the “900” on a big air quarter pipe, and the first to do it in competition.
The original Camp Woodward opened in the summer of 1970 in Pennsylvania for gymnastics enthusiasts. It has expanded over the decades with four additional locations including Woodward West in Tehachapi. The focus has also evolved to include more action sports such as skateboarding, BMX, and the integration of digital media.
“Camp Woodward” on Fuel TV is now entering its fifth season and has steadily gained popularity.
Another local skateboarder, Zane Timpson, 16, who was featured on an early season of the show, is returning for an encore performance in season five, set to premiere in February 2012.
“We’re excited to switch things up this year and have some of our best kids back,” said Gary Ream, Camp Woodward’s managing owner. “Camp Woodward provides campers a place to nurture everything, not just riding skills. Our attendees learn and grow from their experiences each summer.”
The ability to skate all day on a ramp that seems to be made for him is just what Brusco thrives on. But the camp experience provides a departure from the rigorous training regimen.
“I’ve been riding the go-carts and doing BMX,” he said. “Kevin Robinson let me use his bike for this week and it’s been super fun doing all the dirt jumps.” Robinson is a veteran BMX competitor who has been on the scene for over 20 years.
Brusco is in training for a reason. Last year he won the 2010 Gatorade Free Flow tour on the amateur circuit, which automatically entered him into the Dew Tour championships to be held in October in Las Vegas. It also earned him a chance to turn pro.
He’s concentrating on the mini-mega and vert-ramps in preparation for the upcoming Dew Tour competition in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I want to make the super finals,” Brusco said. “I missed it by one spot in Ocean City, Md. You have to get into the top five and I got sixth.”
Brusco will have to contend with veterans the likes of Shaun White — who most recently took first place at the vert competition in the X Games XVII — Bob Burnquist, Andy Macdonald, Bucky Lasek, Sandro Dias and a host of others.
“I don’t know all the ages but they are all really good,” Brusco said. “I just want to do my best. I’m definitely the youngest in the vert contest.”
But being the youngest doesn’t seem to bother Brusco. He’s earned a reputation for being respectful and hard working amongst his peers and he’s not afraid to enjoy himself in the midst of competition.
“It’s been really fun for me doing the ‘grom’ demos for the last five years and now I’m in the real thing with all the pros,” he said. “I have to thank my mom and dad for all the support and the fun.”