Yes, people still like to bond in teepees, stroll on nature walks and frolic in Lake Who Cares. But expanding beyond sedate outdoor activities is today's ticket to entrepreneurial popularity. Whether it's surfing or snowboarding, there are ordinary folk who'd love to enjoy action sports (they're no longer considered "extreme") but think they can't.
Hottest candidates for action sports camps? Women--who rank windsurfing, ice hockey and snowboarding among their favorite sports--and young girls. "Boys learn from [other] boys, but girls don't because they're taught not to do crazy, radical things--they might hurt themselves," says skateboarder/snowboarder/surfer/professional photographer Patty Segovia (r.), 29.
Segovia's All Girl Skate Jams--all-ages, Vans-sponsored skateboarding contests--are now in their fourth year, and she launched her Encinitas, California, all-female skateboard camp of the same name last September. Media hype surrounding skateboarding fluctuates, but it's definitely this year's "it" sport. Recent stats from the National Sporting Goods Association show 5.7 million participants, 22.6 percent of them female. Vans plans to have six skate parks open by this spring and projects first-year sales of $3.5 million for its first park in Orange, California.
Melodie Woods, senior vice president of programming and development for entertainment company Girl Games Inc. in Austin, Texas, says accessibility fuels the trend: "Skateboarding's everywhere because anybody can do it, and it's cheap." Opening an action sports camp isn't so cheap: It cost Segovia about $5 million. But since Mattel's Skateboard Shannen doll hit the shelves last fall, girls will be (kick)flipping to enroll.