SBJ/July 11-17, 2011/Facilities

Ski resort owner Powdr Corp. buys majority share of action sports’ Camp Woodward

The action sports camp that’s become a summer haven for trendsetting youth has been acquired by one of the largest ski resort operators in the country.

Three of Camp Woodward’s founding partners have sold their stake in the sports camp to Powdr Corp., making the ski resort owner the majority shareholder of the company’s five youth training facilities.

Gary Ream, whose father first invested in the camp in 1977, will remain a minority stakeholder and continue to run Woodward. His family also will have a share.

The deal, which sources said values the camp at $40 million to $45 million, brings an end to a yearlong search for an investor willing to buy out the camp’s founding partners: Pat Stillman, 71; Bob Ellis, 81; and Ed Isabelle, 67. The partners’ decision to sell their stake in the company was part of an estate planning process.

“Bob, Pat and Ed were absolutely terrific,” said Ream, who declined to comment on the value of the deal. “They let us move and shake with the kids and gave us a lot of trust. We don’t want to mess with that. John [Cumming, CEO of Powdr] absolutely understands what Woodward’s all about and what we need to do to protect the future. That’s what we wanted.”

The deal closed two weeks ago. John Moag of Baltimore-based Moag & Co. assisted Woodward in the negotiations.

Powdr is familiar with Camp Woodward’s appeal, as it partnered with Woodward to develop the camp’s first ski and snowboard operation at Copper Mountain in Colorado. The company hopes the acquisition of Woodward will help diversify Powdr’s annual revenue and help it appeal to youth and new customers.

“Every kid we convert is a long-term yield to the company,” Cumming said.

Powdr Corp. owns nine ski resorts in six states, including Killington in Vermont, and Park City in Utah.

Camp Woodward, which was founded as a gymnastics camp in 1969, today operates four camps in the U.S. and one in China. The camps in Pennsylvania (Woodward U), California (Woodward West), Wisconsin (Lake Owen Camp) and Colorado (Woodward at Copper) gained acclaim as action sports destinations for youths wanting to hone their skateboard and BMX skills. Woodward charges kids anywhere from $875 to $1,095 to attend its camps for a week. It also sells sponsorships and has deals with Red Bull, Vitaminwater, Ball Park, Target and Matador beef jerky.

Ream said that the camps will remain in their current locations and gradually look to expand ski and snowboard operations across Powdr’s resorts. Those camps would operate every month of the year except September and October.

Boreal in Northern California will be the first resort to add a Woodward operation. It will open Woodward Tahoe, which will be a year-round ski and snowboard camp.

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