Cam is the organiser of some Florida’s favourite skateboarding events, the new brand manager for Vicious Griptape and a corrupter of groms. You’ll enjoy reading this.
Hello Cam, how are you?
I’m doing pretty well. Suns up in Southern California and just got the usual coffee and “Ham cheese warm up”. So stoked.
Surely bacon and cheese is the champs choice?
I’d say so… or Bacon and Maple syrup.
Are you a SoCal local?
I guess now you could say I am. But not originally from SoCal. Moved here from the East Coast of FL. I like to move around.
Where else have you lived?
I’ve lived all up and down the state of Florida, Vancouver, Atlanta, GA and most recently Newport Beach, CA.
What was it like growing up in Florida?
Florida has it’s perks. I don’t think I could say I miss Florida but I do miss the rad friends I have there. It’s awesome to see that even in a place as flat as Florida people can become killer skaters.
Papa Les photo
Who are Florida’s sickest skaters?
Such an opened ended question. A few years ago and there might have been 3-4 guys I’d say were just beyond the rest of the Floridians. But now I’d say guys like Prescott Majette and his brother Pierce and both crushing it. Stephen Vaughn, Jackson Foltz… just to name a few more. (There’re more of you… and you know who you are and I respect you all!) Not to mention the media being produced out of FL now has really stepped its game up. Kinda rad to see that some of the OG FL guys have made it out and live in more downhill conducive states like Mike Harrington, Will Royce, Joey Scotten and Ben Arcia.
Where did skateboarding find you?
Funny story kind of… I was walking back to my grandparents place when I was pretty young and found a pretty beat up but totally rideable skateboard in someone’s trash pile. Picked it up and pushed myself the rest of the way. I used to stay outside on the drive-way and tell myself I couldn’t go inside until I landed 5 ollies in a row, or 5 shove-its. I loved skating the second I stepped foot on one and it’s kind of just been a part of my daily routine ever since.
What happens if you don’t get to skate?
Tech Decks, Skate 3, skate videos. I don’t think there is ever a day that goes by where skating isn’t being done in some form for me. Even just pushing around the warehouse.
“Skating has always been about me, I didn’t care if people thought I was good or bad…I really just cared about having fun. ”
How did you progress after those first driveway days?
I made some friends in middle school and we’d all skate to school every day. It was only about 2 miles or so but we’d leave an hour or so early so we could skate stuff on the way… little 4 stair, curbs, grass gaps. It was really the first time I think I had a solid group of friends that could relate to me. We’d all skate when we could, then play video games until 4am…oh Halo.
Did friends make it different?
I wouldn’t say that it made skating different. The rad thing is skating can be done by yourself or with friends. But the cool thing with friends is you just push each other. You feed of each others stoke and just try to one-up each other. Skating by yourself is the same… you just feed off your own energy. Skating has always been about me, I didn’t care if people thought I was good or bad…I really just cared about having fun.
How does skating make you feel?
There’s days I feel like a million bucks and others I feel like shit, but I can always pick up my board the next day. Falling sucks so I guess those can be the times skating and I don’t get along. I’ve always said skating isn’t about the tricks or going fast… It’s about learning how to fall with grace. But learning something new or having a rad experience can make the rest of your day, week, month, year so much better… all because a piece of wood, some wheels and trucks.
When did you find the skating community in FL?
I think I first got introduced to a “core” community at a garage race series in Boca Raton, FL. They’d host these races where we’d go race down a few different garages and then tally up points and give out cash to the winners. I honeslty had NO idea it was a thing until that night. I had heard about a race in Puerto Rico that night and was so fired up on the thought of going so I went home and book my ticket the following week.
How important are garages to the scene there?
I think that’s where almost everyone gets their start. Back in the day, the core group of us were living in South FL and that’s all we really had. But we’d made trips up north to the now well known Clermont, FL and try out the skills we had there. This was WAY before any of us really knew what we were doing. Pretty crazy to see how quickly things have changed and how big the community has grown. Now I think the “core” community is really located closer to the Clermont/Orlando area.
Are you part of the first generation of FL longboarders?
I wouldn’t say “first gen” but I like to think I’m part of a group of FL longboarders that started to venture out from our home towns. Guys like Dubes and Matt K are both FL riders but we never skated when I lived there. I’d say Dubes is pretty FL “core” haha. But I think the Miami Longboard Crew guys are really the first group of people to put together a group of people that skated often and went on trips to events. Santiago, Marisa, Diego, Jorge, Ben… those guys are rad and really helped foster a good community.
Who is Dubes?
Dubes is a FL native who made his way out to Colorado before Colorado even knew it really had a downhill scene. That guy has probably logged more time on some of those hills than the poeple who live there. He lived up in Van and skated with all the Van guys before they were OG and hell…was even part of the OG SkateHouse. He was, until recently, the man behind the Paris/Divine skate team and he’s now my room-mate… funny how it all works out.
How did you guys sate the thirst for speed?
Living in SoCal it’s A LOT easier to get my fix. But in Florida it was pretty hard. Runs were short and the fast ones were even shorter. I think now though the scene has changed. Freeriding has really taken over now and I think more people are into that than your traditional “speed boarding”. I personally like going fast as fuck, and trying to make it down the hill the fastest. Living in Vancouver showed me what freeriding was all about. Those guys like to go fast as hell and through big slides to maintain speed… none of that no-comply, one-foot, slide shove-it stuff. I’ve tried it…but I like going fast and big.
Was Clermont your only local source of speed?
For a while it was. But then you had guys up in Tallahasee that were riding rad spots too. It took a while for the regional crews to all meet up and now it’s not that uncommon to hear about people making a 9 hour drive to spend time up there for the weekend.
What took you to Vancouver?
After my 2nd year in Puerto Rico, I was talking to “Papa Les” from Rayne Longboards about sponsoring an event I was hosting in FL. We got to talking about it and I mentioned to him that I wanted to ride for Rayne. He pointed me in the direction I needed to go and a few months later everything worked out. After that summer I told Les I wanted to skate more, hit more events and leave my horrible retail job. Les gave me the opportunity to come to Vancouver and work at the shop and hit up all the events. Best choice I ever made!
How was your trip to PR?
I honestly had NO idea what to expect. I think the only people from other countries the first year I went were Jeff Budro, JM Duran, Scoot and the Staub family from CO. Everyone else was PR local. Each year more people came and the crowds got bigger. The past 2 years though have been kind of a bummer, the parties have been awesome but organization has declined. Hoping they get it together for 2014 because that’s a great start to the year.
What events did you hit there?
My first actual year as a “racer” was 2010. I think that first year I did Danger Bay, Jakes Rash, Britannia, Maryhill, Cathlamet, Boomtown 3, Broadway Bomb, Whistler, Vernon, and a few other smaller ones. But it was a REAL eye opener to go from pretty much nothing to an event almost every other weekend and some of the raddest hills I’d ever seen. I skated a lot that year and I think that was the year I really realized it was more than just a sport or a hobby to me.
How did you manage to compete at those races with no big hills to train on?
My first Canadian race was Danger Bay and I remember stay up the night before the race and running around the camp site with Striker and waking people up at 4am. Yeah, we drank a few that night. But I got to the top of the hill, took a practice run and ate shit! Then managed to make it through 3 heats so I was pretty hyped. It took me a while to get pre-drifting down and get my legs used to tucking for so long, but by the end of it, I got it down. I don’t think I ever really expected to win a race. I just wanted to race, as often as I could. I know I have the potential to do it but it’s not a priority.
Did you have anyone from FL with you on those adventures?
At the beginning not really. Will Royce and Marisa Nunez were the two others that made it out the same year. I’d run into them at an event once and a while. Always awesome to skate with friends you don’t get to see all the time.
What event did you need Rayne sponsorship for?
King of Clermont (R.I.P.) was an event I wanted to put on in Clermont so skated in FL had a REAL race. It was fully sanctioned on a closed road and I’d say it was Florida’s first legitimate race (I could be wrong). Each year it grew and grew but unfortunately we had complications with the property’s new owners and we have been unable to host it for the last 2 years.
How did the locals receive the event?
Everyone was stoked. People who weren’t able to fly to big events had one to go to. And I think that pushed people in other parts of the state to host events too! It’s rad to look back and see how much its grown. Now you hear about a FL event almost every week.
What was the hardest thing about putting it on?
The work before. I don’t think people understand the amount of work that goes on behind the scene to put an event together. A lot of my free time is spent making sure the event comes together and we have everything you need. I’ve been doing it all pretty much freestyle and have been learning new things each year. Once race day was here it was always a huge weight lifted off my shoulder.
If it’s so tough, why do it?
Someone has to! I really enjoy it though. All the hard work that gets put into hosting event pays off when you get to see how stoked everyone is. Honestly, that’s the biggest reward you can be given. I’ve never taken anything from an event I’ve hosted… cash or product. I always make sure everything goes into each event. And in the end it pays off. Everyone’s stoked and has a good time. Not to mention everyone wants to buy you a beer after!
How did Rayne’s sponsorship help?
At the time we were just taking product. If people knew there was product being given away then more people would show up. It was nice to stoke kids out with fresh new gear!
What filled the void the race left?
Mike Harrington does a great job with Carnage on the Coast. Last year we rushed to put together an alternative and settled on Kona. Honestly I think it’s one of the best things that could have happened. King of Kona has A LOT of potential and has really been becoming a fun event to host and put together. I think it came at the right time as well. Longboards were getting kick-tails, people who hadn’t street skated before were trying it out and really everyone was trying to become a well rounded skater and not just a “longboarder”. The great thing about Kona was you had everything! The racing, slalom, street, vert…it all came together and for 3 days and nights we had our own skateboard paradise.
Must have been fun just being a regular Joe at a local race!
It’s always fun, the community has always tried to have good events and make sure everyone is staying active. It’s all those local races that have been pushing people out of FL now to hit a race or two elsewhere in the country.
What is Kona?
Kona is like the Mecca of skateboarding. It’s one of if not the oldest skateparks still in operation. Over 30 years of skating has gone down there and some of skateboarding’s most revolutionary moments have happened there!
What led to you organising that event?
Andrew Mercado and I were scratching our heads about what to do about the fall of King of Clermont. He brought up that he had connections to Kona and might be able to swing something with the guys over there. So after a few calls and emails King of Clermont became King of Kona. Quick last minute change to venue with only a few weeks to go before the event was hell. but totally paid off.
Were you nervous about how the longboarders would receive it?
100% It was a total shot in the dark. Some kids didn’t know how to drop in or ollie and some didn’t understand how they could spend 3 days at a skatepark. But that’s the glory of Kona! It’s big enough so you can skate new stuff all day. I saw so many kids drop in for their first time or learn how to ollie or kickflip.
Did you get to skate it?
Totally! That was the best part of the event. It was self governing. If people wanted to have an event we did it. 2am snake race? Sure! It was like a 72 hour skate session only with prizes and way more people. 2014 will have a few more contests in mind, cash prizes and be a bit structured. But we really wanna stay true to the “JUST SKATE” attitude of the event.
After Rayne sponsored KOC, how did your relationship with them develop?
I think after I moved to Vancouver I was brought into the family, it really is more than just a team. If there is anything I’ve learned over the years of riding with them. We eat together, skate together travel together and sometimes shower together. Some of my best friends have been made because of Rayne. Hell, Les is pretty much my dad not to mention mentor, boss, team manager and wingman. Rayne has honestly become the reason I am where I am today and I’m forever grateful for that opportunity.
“…kids now have this expectation that being a sponsored rider is all about being the best rider ever, winning every event and getting a ton of money… there’s more to being a team rider than being the guy who wins everything.”
What did you have to do to join the family?
I had to make a video biography. Basically an edit telling my story, where I was from and what I wanted to do. Mix in some clips of me skating and that was that. I wouldn’t say that video is what got me on the team, but it was another piece to add to a list of things Les was looking for out of a team rider. I think kids now have this expectation that being a sponsored rider is all about being the best rider ever, winning every event and getting a ton of money. But it’s actually quite the opposite for most of us. Yeah, there’s a few guys in the scene who make a few bucks but they’re not getting rich off it. And most those guys have started other ventures like Aera trucks or Venom. There’s more to being a team rider than being the guy who wins everything.
After PR, when was the next time you saw Les?
We Skyped here and there and eventually I was making my way up to Vancouver few months later.
What did you hope to find in Vancouver?
A new beginning I guess. The next chapter in my life. I wanted to be where the scene was, where all the good skate spots were. I didn’t want a shitty retail job anymore and I wanted to be able to skate all the time with skaters 100 times better than me. I honestly have all the skills I have now because I was forced to skate gnarly spots with people well beyond my skill level.
Were you happy in FL?
I was happy because I had friends there. But I knew I was missing out and if I didn’t take that chance I’d never get another. Friends are friends no matter where ya go. I look forward to every January when I go back for my event to see everyone. My doors have also always been open to friends wanting to come out west and skate.
What work did you do in Vancouver?
I was there from 2010 – 2011 and did pretty much anything and everything. Pick stickers, build boards, sweep, clean, film and edit videos, shoot photos. I built all the walls that are up in the warehouse in N. Van, put up racking…pretty much anything Les needed done, I did it. We all start off as a Rayne Bitch.
Was the skating as good as you hoped?
I don’t think I was really prepared for what I was getting into haha. But I learned quick and also learned to accept the rain. You fall enough times and eventually you figure out how not to.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt from your mentor?
That the job I’m in is not a job, it’s a lifestyle. I have to accept that some days I’ll have to work until 9pm or even later. Sometimes I’ll have to work on weekends but it has some of the greatest rewards. Some days I dont touch my computer because I have to go to GMR and skate with Dalua. Other times I’m on the road for 3 weeks skating spots up and down the coast, visiting shops and stoking out the locals. The moment I was able to realize that work is just apart of all of this is the moment I realized how lucky I am. I don’t have to wake up for a 9-5 and put on a suit and tie. I’d honestly go crazy working anywhere else.
Putting on a leather suit beats a business suit every day!
Most days… Sometimes they can smell pretty damn bad.
How long do you hope to be able to live this lifestyle?
I plan to ride it out as long as I can. I really want to be more involved with the company. And I think that’s what I’m heading towards.
What was the highlight of your time in Canada?
Tiffany. Plain and simple. Living in that RV was way too much fun. That same year (2010) was the year of the RV for skate events it seemed like. It was so awesome to pile in and drive her everywhere.
How did seeing the quality and variety of events influence you?
At times it made me proud and others it made me see how I could improve. Everyone hosts an event differently. I appreciate the hard work that goes into putting on an event because I’ve been there. So seeing others succeed and continue to do it reminds me why I like to do it in the first place.
What’s your favourite type of event?
I always liked the events that felt more like a festival. Events that lasted 2-5 days rather than 1. It was always a challenge to see if you can survive the weekend. I think the Danger Bay, Jakes Rash, Brittania week is the triple crown of longboarding. 3 events in 10 days and a hell of a lot of partying. If you can make it out alive then you’ve done well. If you can win all 3 events then you’re a champ… literally.
Do you have a party trick?
Aidan Lynds and I can drink a hell of a lot of Fireball in 4 hours…NA NA NA NA NA NA NA.
Are you a corrupter of groms?
Damn… You caught me. Just ask Roberto Cobian about Danger Bay this year.
Why did you decide to move to Cali?
I left Vancouver and moved to Atlanta, GA for a short time as I missed being on the west coast. When I moved I was kind of taken out of my element and placed back into the regular 9-5 retail job and skated when I could. BUT living in Atlanta also made me some great friends and I got to skate a lot of the “Skatesgiving” spots since it was all so close. Another killer skate scene that I’m proud to have been a part of. But the west was calling and I left to be back on the coast where I belong and back in the industry I love.
Were there any similarities between ATL and anywhere you’d been?
I think most communities have the same care structure. Everyone just wants to skate. Each scene obviously adapts to their terrain but everyone gets together to skate.
What was the plan for LA?
Les helped me land a job at a big skateshop in SoCal and that was the start. Things didn’t work out but it was on to bigger and better things. I worked at Resource Distribution (Paris/Divine/Riviera/Elephant/Five Mile) for a bit while Rayne was putting in their warehouse just down the street. When the time came I then moved a block down the street and now work here with Rayne/Vicious again. I’m finally back home!
How has your role in the Rayne family evolved over the years?
I’ve worked my way up from just picking stickers to now running Vicious in 2014. You build trust and show your worth and you get rewarded.
Congratulations. What does it take to be brand manager of Vicious grip?
I’m just learning now. Les has really trusted me with a lot and I’m learning how much it really takes to run a brand… even something as simply as griptape.
Who else is on the vicious staff?
All the sales guys for Rayne also sell Vicious. It’s myself making sure the brand looks the way it does and to stay on top of the social media. We’ve got a web guy who’s helping us put together a new site for 2014 and Les who helps me when I need it… which is often. There’s a small group of us working together to make sure Vicious stays together.
What are your Vicious responsibilities?
Brand managing really means I’m in charge of what Vicious looks like. How people see Vicious as a brand and product. I’ll be responsible for maintaining the social media as well as production of videos and photos. There’s a lot that goes down behind the scenes!
Are you doing this full time now?
All day everyday. I have people at my disposal to help me and I’m learning that there are things I will have to have others help me with.
Are you Papa Cam now?
More of the grown up step-child. Though I have been called Dad before. I think that’s a trendy thing to do now.
Where do you see Vicious going in the next 3 years?
I’m really looking forward to 2014. I have a lot of cool ideas I hope to bring to the table and make a reality. I think the biggest thing is to finally have Vicious break free from being associated as Rayne and people see it as its own beast.
Isn’t it associated with Rayne?
Vicious is a Rayne product but we’d really it to be seen as Vicious on its own. Right now, Vicious only has grip and logo’d shirts. I really want to try and create a full on brand with Vicious and introduce a few other rad things into our catalogue.
Are you going to make a new logo?
You’ll have to wait and find out!
What skateboards should Vicious be on?
If you have a longboard, it should have Vicious. I like to think of Vicious as the “Xerox” of griptape.
Will you be looking to add people to the team?
We’re always keeping an eye out for rad guys to add to the team!
How has your year gone?
This year has been pretty damn awesome. It started off a little rough but has really picked up! I hit pretty much every event I’ve wanted to this year, skated a ton, made awesome friends and live a block from the beach! Honestly I have no complaints for this year and I’m looking forward to an even better 2014.
What’s made you smile this year?
Not a day goes by that I don’t smile. And if I don’t smile I come home to my dog and then life is all good.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
I like to take my dog to the beach every day. California has some rad things to do outside of skating. Lots of good camping, hiking and exploring to do out here!
What’s the plan for 2014?
Kill it. Pretty simple. I’ve got a lot to prove.
Who do you have to prove what to?
Myself really. I got myself here and this is what I wanted. Now I gotta show myself I can do it.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-13.
1, 8, 7
1 – If you had to be a bad guy in a movie, who would you be?
Galactus. Everyone at Rayne will understand.
8 – what did Lincoln keep under his hat?
7 – why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side… but that’s pretty morbid and I feel bad for the chicken. The “other side” has always been referred to as the after life. As in…”See you on the other side”. I feel bad for whatever forced that poor chick to a suicidal walk across a busy road.
Get it Cam! We did it, we actually did it. I think we deserve some bacon and a couple beers. Thanks for sharing your story. See you in Euro land!
Thanks for the opportunity buddy! And see you… on the other side.
Any last words?
Big thank you to all my sponsors. Rayne Longboards, Vicious Grip, Push Culture, Paris Trucks and Divine Wheels for making rad product and helping me out! And thanks to all my friends all over the world for letting me crash on their couches!