Innovating new snowboard technology isn’t child’s play.
At least, that's what we thought. See, we think of Burton Development Camp, and all of the effort, creative energy, and engineering that goes into snowboard development for years before we get to there.
Sometimes, you have to bring in experts from outside Burton HQ to keep things fresh. This meeting started as most do: Employees gathered into a conference room ready to discuss ideas for new youth snowboard designs. The chatter quieted down when the presenters were ready to start.
“As loud as you can, tell me if you’re ready.”
Our experts from the outside were between five and nine years old, but they were serious. They arrived at Burton HQ from the Vermont Day School, a charter school in the Burlington area with a unique learning program called CLIC week (Create, Learn, Innovate, Celebrate). Once a year, the school spends a week focused on a single project, coming up with new ideas and learning the importance of teamwork to brainstorm, present, and celebrate their successes. The challenge for this year’s CLIC week was to improve an already established Burton snowboard to make it more appealing to young riders. Groups of three to four kids came to Burton HQ armed with prototypes and video presentations, ready to share their ideas.
“Four teams, four very different presentations. Two video, two live,” their teacher announced before the presentations began. The participants had their game faces on, and anticipation was high: This was starting to feel like a G-rated version of the Hunger Games. Would the last group standing be responsible for the future of youth snowboarding?
Looking around the room during the presentations, there were smiles and laughter from the Burton crew, but no one was brushing it off. It was impressive what these tiny think tanks brought to the table.
Here are some of the highlights:
Team Swallowtail used bubble wrap as a heel cushion inside their bindings. Halfway through the presentation, they decided that the “Swallowtail” should be renamed “The Shredder.”
Team Starlight, one of the youngest presentation groups, had a youth splitboard with light-up edges and a seriously cool cosmic design. They also included a Velcro toy to the front of the board, so you can play with something during long lift rides. We were a little intimidated by Team Starlight…
Team Throwback suggested that children wouldn’t realize the significance of the Throwback boards being some of Jake Carpenter’s first board designs. They weren’t around that long ago. New name idea: The Transformer. The board graphics showed an intimidating Kraken on the front and back.
Team Blazing Circus, another group of youngsters, made a snowboarding commercial to amp up enthusiasm around youth snowboarding. The graphics they designed featured flames on the back and a circus on the front, “because the circus makes you feel happy!”
So, who came out on top? The general consensus was that all of them did. After all, who’s better at brainstorming kid’s board designs than the groms riding them?
Our takeaway: The future of snowboarding is in great hands. ∆