Firm Buys Camp Woodward, Vows to Expand Name
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Young athletes flock from around the world to attend Camp Woodward for its first-class instruction in extreme sports. Soon, many may not have to travel so far.
The 425-acre camp in Haines Township, and its offshoots in Wisconsin and California, along with its brand name and licensing rights, was recently sold to Powdr Corp., an investment group that owns nine ski resorts across the country.
Powdr CFO Jennifer Botter said her company is looking to build more camps both inside the U.S. and in as many as 30 foreign countries.
“Woodward draws quite a bit of interest and name-brand recognition around the world already. We see an opportunity in many other countries ... as many as 20 to 30,” Botter said. “We hope (to) pursue that, as well as sites domestically.”
Powdr’s interest in the camp was sparked by its purchase of Colorado’s Copper Mountain ski resort, where a Camp Woodward-licensed facility, dedicated to winter sports instruction for youth, opened in 2009.
“We became quite enamored of the people — Gary Ream in particular — and really became aware of what the camp was doing for the action sports industry,” Botter said.
Ream is the co-owner of Camp Woodward and the man behind its transition from a gymnastics- centered camp into an action sports mecca. In the past 15 years, he helped raise the camp’s profile through licensing deals with the X Games, the Dew Tour and through a reality TV show on Fuel TV.
Botter said Powdr agreed last month to purchase a majority stake in Camp Woodward from Ream and a few other co-owners, including Ream’s family members. Care was taken during the acquisition not to disrupt Camp Woodward’s summer season, she said.
Botter did not disclose the purchase price, but said Ream will remain president and his executive team will be retained. Ream did not answer phone calls seeking comment.
Powdr may eventually build Camp Woodward facilities at all of its mountain resorts, Botter said. That process has already begun, as the company had contracted to build a Camp Woodward facility at its Lake Tahoe resort, Boreal, before the sale was completed.
“It gives us more opportunities during summertime, but it transcends seasonality,” Botter said about the purchase. “It’s about adding experiences during the summer and making sure our programs in winter resonate with youth today, as there appears to be more and more interest in action sports.”
Powdr is also looking into finding partners to license camps outside of the U.S., similar to Woodward’s agreement with the Chinese government that led to the construction of the $4 million Camp Woodward Beijing, which opened in 2010.
Woodward isn’t having to work hard to attract interest, Botter said — inquiries have come in from all over the world. Still, she said her company plans to move meticulously with the expansion of the Camp Woodward brand.
“We’re only a month into the acquisition,” she said. “There are so many different scenarios we want to pursue. We’ll see if we can find the right mix with each.”
Photo By: Nabil K. Mark
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