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Mini Sport Kite Camp - WSIKF August 2023

Oh man... this... was.... SO AMAZING!!! This Sport Kite Camp we call a 'mini' because it was tagged along with a festival. We had some scheduled activities for just Sport Kite Camp that were scheduled around the general festival events. It did limit some of the fellowship and gatherings we were aiming for, but overall, the time spent 'at camp' was rather profound.


After the Sport Kite Camp in Kill Devil Hills in May, we decided that we needed to add the big black starfish tent as the staple gathering spot for campers. It is now a permanent fixture of Sport Kite Camp going forward. Not only does it provide a space for folks to gather out of the elements/sun and get a small break, but in the case of this event, it became the 'campfire' for our fireside chats. There was a state-wide burn ban implemented in Washington a few days prior, so we couldn't actually gather around a campfire and share stories, but the tent proved to be the perfect substitute. It also is rather visible from a far, and in the near future we will be adding more art work and logos to it to truly represent Sportkite.org.


The general set up of the event was to have 'fireside chats/workshops' in the morning before the main festival events, then follow up with flying. Then come back together in the evening for meals cooked on the beach. With the burn ban in full effect we had to get a bit creative and round up a camp grill to make the meals, but it made it all the better!


Pre Day - Wednesday/Thursday

Many fliers were already on the beach when the 'camp crew' (Nic O'Neill and Paul de Bakker) rolled into town on Wednesday. The Washington State International Kite Festival goes for a full week and fully covers all aspects of kiting. From Big show kites, to tiny little fighter kites and everything in between. It is also where our friends over at Team KiteLife and Kite Forge call home, so we set up camp right next to them. This turned out to be a great blend and really served the sport kite community gathered there. Easily jumping from dual to quad line, and back again, and co-mingling. Sport Kite Camp is not just about Dual line kites, but going into this mini-camp, we knew there was going to be a heavier emphasis on duals while KiteLife had the emphasis on Quads. Nevertheless, we were able to get a ton of flying and hanging out in during these pre-days.

Day One - Friday

With the camp set up early at 7:30am, the call went out to folks to let them know.... Sport Kite Camp was open and ready!!! We began with an incredibly passionate and vulnerable Fireside Chat from Scott Weider called "Respect the Craft M'fer". It was a very intimate moment that showed that all of us should no matter what level we are, we should approach the kite field and kite flying as a professional. Even if we are only flying for ourselves and no audience, when you bring a vulnerable yet professional mindset to your flying, it is more intentional... and it is more fulfilling. A lot of special moments from Scott's talk resonated with the 'campers' through out the weekend.

As Scott finished his chat, the wind started picking up, and the next workshop and roundtable was postponed as everyone ran out to the field to make the most of the conditions!


As evening came around, we fired up the grill, the winds dropped to a nice calm comfortable light flying, and made a big batch of tacos for the crew. Setting us up perfectly to roll into the Night fly.


Day Two - Saturday

Carl Robertshaw (yes that guy!) kicked off the day with a chat about Flying Together, and what it takes to be a team flyer. It is so much more than just having the skills to fly a kite, there really is a lot of work that goes into functioning as a team. Really that is where the beautiful craftsmanship comes through that people appreciate, is where people can work together.


Following Carl's chat, we spent a little bit of time flying, then rolled into a chat with Spencer 'Watty' Watson focused on Spatial Awareness. Watty brought up the importance of not only being aware of the characteristics of the field you are flying in, but yourself. Really driving home the point that field etiquette is just as important as developing your skills as a flier.

The clouds came in a little bit throughout the afternoon, but we spent it flying, watching demo's on the main field, and getting nitty gritty about gear and technique. Several campers went off and did some pairs/team flying, several got one-on-one training or refinement, and everyone just chilled. We ended the evening with a big bowl of Jambalaya and prepping for a SECOND night fly.

Day Three - Sunday

Cracked open day three with a Fireside chat led by Paul de Bakker sharing his love of Putting Moves to Music. It was a great workshop all about choreography and getting the most out of the music. Not only what you can do with the music, but how to pick the right music.... and it may not be the one that is your favorite that you like listening to. :)

Michel Gagnon closed out the chats with a great bit on getting folks into dual line team flying. Helping give folks the motivation to try team flying. You only need the absolute basics to get started, the ability to launch, land, turn, stall, and the ability to keep your speed control under check. As soon as the chat ended, everyone gladly rushed out to the field to get some team flying in!


CLOSING

This event was incredibly special for so many reasons. The general feeling from many was not only did they feel completely energized and motivated to go out and fly, but also hopeful for the sport kite community. On more than one occasion through out the week we looked out on the fields to see 10, 20, 30, 40!!! dual line kiters and about 50-60 quad lines. Not all were attendees of Sport Kite Camp, but they all added to the overall feeling that the sport kite community as a whole is seeing a spark, a growth, a tender flame that might grow into something bigger.


We are already looking into how we can be a part of that, and where we are going to plan for the next few Sport Kite Camps.

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