Four hours north-east of LA is a sacred piece of heaven. It’s 5400 feet above sea level, and the Sequoia trees grow so high that you can barely see their top branches.

Over the weekend was the MAKE IT COUNT contest series, in the Sequoia National Park at the YMCA Element Skate Camp. It’s a place where kids come to learn how to survive in the wilderness, how to succeed in life,  and how to skate their best.

Visually, Skate Camp is absolutely beautiful. Audibly, there were accents from all over the world… Contestants came from  Portugal, Canada, Australia, and cities throughout the United States. And Element’s international offices came out to cheer for their respected regions, as Element Europe, Japan, and Australia were in attendance.

Prior to the contest, we hiked to Stony Creek where the Europe crew, Guy (from Portugal), Levi Brown, and a few skaters were the only ones brave enough to swim in the icy waters.

Todd Larson and Matt Luciani from Elemental Awareness taught us survival techniques, how to make shelter, create our own utensils with hot coals and wood, and make fire from only the bare essentials. Nevertheless, our European brethren Phil and Christian came through with the goods by making the best looking spoons!

Late at night we got to hang out next to the camp fire, where Guy tried to scare us with his Black Bear impersonation, which was met with rolling laughter instead of screams! Hehe… Thanks for the laughs Guy!.

Element Land, one of many rad places to skate at Skate Camp.

Make It Count contest finals at Element YMCA Skate Camp.

Beautiful Sequoia Lake.

The Elemental Awareness Teepee.

Todd Larson teaching us how to survive in the bush.

Team Euro making some very handsome spoons from pine wood.

Matt Luciani teaching kids how to make shelter in the forest.

Matt Luciani from Elemental Awareness showing us how to make fire.

Stony Creek.

Slippery slopes of Stony Creek.

Chad Tim Tim found this Bear print in the mud next to our tent!

Rat bags aka Ryan Dewitt, Levi Brown, Julian Davidson and Nick Garcia.

The sun going down over Sequoia Lake.

Thank you so much to Mike Manidis for having us at Skate Camp, and all the counselors that inspire (little & big) kids alike!

Watch the MAKE IT COUNT finals contest here!



  1. Rob LMS
    June 25, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Great post, lovely photos!


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