Parkour Camp 2013 – Blane’s Report
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been going to Morzine for the Parkour Generations training camp for six years now. What started off as a small, under-the-radar, week-long camp that nobody really knew about has grown to become one of only a few residential camps on the annual Parkour calendar and certainly the most notorious. The stories and legends that circulate amongst the Parkour community about Morzine range from hilarious, to heroic. Whilst some of the stories are absolutely true, others may or may not be exaggerations. What I can confidently say about Morzine is that it’s one of the most memorable, enjoyable and intensive experience that I’ve been a part of and I look forward to it each and every year.
Although this won’t be a report of exactly what we did on this year’s camp, it should give you some idea of how it feels to be a part of one. The people who leave Morzine are never the same people that arrived. Each year is different and unique, tailored to the particular group who arrives in the mountains and an improvement based on the previous year’s feedback and experience. And what an experience it is.
This year we had 24 participants and 4 coaches with us in Morzine. This 1:6 ratio between coaches and participants ensured that not only did everyone have easy access to a coach at any time to get some help with a technique or route we might have been working on, but it also ensured our group’s safety in the mountainous environment. We’ve taken over 100 people to Morzine now and have never had an accident or injury that was bigger than a bump, bruise or scrape. Muscles may ache, lungs might burn and hearts race but what might seem like a wild experience is actually highly organised, planned months in advance by highly qualified coaches and with all the invisible safety measures would you expect of a camp of this calibre. All of this doesn’t make it any less intense however!
The training itself is as tough as you’ve heard, yes, but it’s almost always scalable and people are encouraged to pick and choose their battles. You can’t go all-out on every exercise and drill. Some days you’ll need to sit back a little and have fun, other days you’ll be really motivated to push yourself and see what you can do. Some exercises you might find easier than others and in these instances you’ll find yourself encouraging your friends to finish and helping them however you can, knowing that tomorrow they’ll be doing the same for you if you’re struggling.
This camaraderie you’ll experience in Morzine is unlike any other I’ve felt. Although the camp only lasts a week, the amount of time you spend with your new friends laughing until it hurts, facing hardship together and achieving things you wouldn’t have believed you could, ensures that a close bond quickly develops amongst the group. You really feel like part of a team trying to accomplish something greater than any one of us could alone. Whether you’re carrying someone up a hill and over a series of logs, grabbing someone’s arm to help them over a high wall, sharing a bottle of water on a hike half-way up a mountain in the middle of the night or sharing the joy of learning a new technique, there are always people right there to share the experience with you. We get emails weeks and months after a camp is finished asking when the next one is and telling us how they miss the early morning runs, the late night card games, and everything in between. People keep in touch years after a camp is finished and we have message boards in place for people to do just that.
For the beginner, Morzine is the perfect introduction to Parkour. You’re thrown in to the deep end of the discipline and immersed by it but in an accessible and manageable way. Any previous experience you might have will be useful, even if it’s in other sports or physical pursuits but we’ve had participants in the past with no physical training at all who did great, and told us that they learned more in that week than they might have in a year on their own. A notepad is essential for making notes of exercises and drills as we squeeze so much in to the week that it can be easy to forget what we did this morning, never mind four days ago.
International coaches and veteran practitioners have been a part of every camp to date and there seems to be more of them attending each year. We go to extra lengths to ensure that the camp is as useful and enjoyable (and challenging!) for them as it is for the newcomer. Knowledge exchange is important in Parkour and everyone, including the coaches, leaves Morzine with a sense of greater understanding of their training, their strengths and weaknesses. It is partly this knowledge exchange that sees people coming back year after year for another dose of the Morzine experience.
The week starts out fairly simply. There’s always a morning run before the buffet breakfast, some morning training after we eat and a buffet lunch where people can regroup, refuel and get ready for the afternoons. We tend to keep the sessions varied enough that we’re always working on new muscle groups and different parts of the body to keep people fresh and injury free. The harder exercises come towards the end of the week when people are ready for them, both physically and psychologically. Parkour is not about who has the biggest jump or fastest speed, it is as much about building an unbreakable spirit as it is any of the physical feats associates with the discipline and equal time is spent developing each of these capacities. The afternoons see us training again, working on different skills, combinations, height training, conditioning, and running, jumping, climbing, lifting and throwing. Dinner is a chance for everyone to share stories, have some fun and unwind before the optional night training sessions that focus on silent movement drills, exploration and moving in harmony with your environment.
Everyone is encouraged to nap whenever they can, after training sessions, before meals and during any down time back at the idyllic Chalet Philibert. These 20-40 minute power naps can make a huge difference to your recovery on the camp and get you ready for the rest of the day if you’re a little sore or tired.
There is nothing I can say that can accurately describe how beautiful Morzine is and do it justice. The videos and pictures attached can only give you the briefest of ideas. Being so used to practicing Parkour in an urban environment means that getting away in to the mountains for a week to train is a very special experience for me and there is the perfect blend of natural and semi-urban environments that offer unlimited options for us in terms of movement and training out there. I love it.
If you’re still considering whether or not to next year’s camp then I’d recommend contacting anyone who has been to one over the past six years. Email us, ask us questions and ask yourself if you want to be pushed and discover your potential in the mountains next Summer..
We’ll see you there.
The people who leave Morzine are never the same people that arrived.