CGTC Camper, Gabrielle Robinson, Receives Eight Prestigious Scholastic Art Awards

Gabrielle Robinsons

Gabrielle Robinsons - Scholastic Art Award

The Columbia Gorge Teen Camp is proud to announce 2014 CGTC camper, Gabrielle Robinson has received eight Scholastic Art awards; four Gold Key Awards, two Silver Key Awards, and two Honorable Mention Awards.  Four of MS Robinson’s winning images were taken while attending the Columbia Gorge Teen Camp in 2014.

The Gold Key and Silver Key Awards will be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, from March 16- May 17th.

For over ninety years The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards have been considered the most prestigious recognition and scholarship program for teenage artists and writers in the U.S. with over 11,000 submissions in the NYC Region in 2015.

In reflecting on the impact of her CGTC experience Gabby stated, “I can’t thank the staff of the Columbia Gorge Teen Photography Camp enough. I’m thrilled to be going back to camp in 2015 to learn and develop my style more and more….”

Gabby will be returning to the Columbia Gorge Teen Photography and Video camp in 2015 as a C.I.T. (Counselor in training) and anticipate both learning and sharing with fellow campers.

2014 Camper Photos by Amber Dwyer

Check out these awesome photos from 2014!

Photos by  Amber Dwyer, who won our first annual William Mesa Award of Excellence in Photography and Video.  William Mesa, has an Academy Award and three Emmy’s for his visual effects work on major films such as Rambo, Stand by Me , The Fugitive, Holes, Clash of the Titans, The Pacific, Dolphin Tale, among many others. His work may be seen at William reviewed the camper portfolios that received the most nominations from all of our photography and video instructors and Program directors. 

Congratulations Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson

Congratulations Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on their historic ascent of the Dawn wall of El Capitan, in Yosemite Valley, California. As many of you have recently seen on national television or radio or on the internet on January 15 just after 6p.m. Tommy and Kevin topped out on their free climb of the Dawn wall in Yosemite Valley. The climb was 7 years in the making and the dream child of Tommy Caldwell, a world renowned and Yosemite big wall climbing veteran. The climb has been called the hardest free climb in the world with many pitches of 5.14 climbing, the hardest there is. The route ascends 3000 vertical feet in 31 pitches up the largest part of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley and these young men spent 19 days on the wall completing their historic ascent. Their ascent was a mighty feat of extraordinary human skill and perseverance.

Rock climbing in Yosemite has a long history and this kind of attention hasn’t been given to a big wall since the golden era of the 70’s when big walls were first free climbed. For those of you who may not know the original ascents of these big walls were done in the 50’s and early 60’s using pitons to construct a ladder effectively to the top by hammering iron spikes into the cracks. During the 1970’s with the advent of better climbing equipment and a clean climbing ethic, piton craft was abandoned and free climbing these huge walls became the challenge of the day. With harder and harder climbs to free climb climbers began to practice or “hangdog” routes as rehearsal and then send the route cleanly after much falling. This was the beginning of sport climbing. Since that time climbers have pushed the limits of what is humanly possible moving over stone. This most recent ascent by Caldwell and Jorgeson marks the apex of sport climbing combining technical wall skills and the incredible gymnastic feats of thin face climbing. Even though Caldwell and Jorgeson spent many days on the wall and fell many times they arrived for the most part unhurt because of the safety systems of rope they constructed as they ascended the Dawn wall of El Capitan.

At the Columbia Gorge Teen Camps we go outdoors to climb and learn to be safe, have fun, challenge ourselves physically and mentally and enjoy the spirit of camaraderie that climbing brings. Learning to be safe on the rock is paramount to having fun. I think that with Tommy and Kevin’s free ascent they have shown us that anything is possible with the necessary skills, attitude and perseverance. Understanding that fear is perceived and not real allows us to dream big and go bigger, no matter what you are pursuing in life. With Columbia Gorge Teen Camps you will learn the basic rock and rope skills to be safe while climbing and get to climb single pitches of any grade. We are all about having fun while learning to climb safely and certainly not a climbing camp to train for competition or to learn to climb extreme routes. I hope you can join us this summer for another excellent climbing adventure in the sun at Smith Rocks, Oregon and the Columbia River Gorge. Once again CONGRATULATIONS Tommy and Kevin from the climbing camp at the Columbia Gorge Teen Camps,

Article by Rick Harrell, climbing instructor and Program Director, Columbia Gorge Teen Climbing Camp

Columbia Gorge Teen Camps grants the William Mesa Award of Excellence in Photography and Video to Salt Lake City teen, Amber Dwyer.

Principal Muse, Amber Dwyer & Camp Director Jan Mayer

The Columbia Gorge Teen Camps  presented the first William Mesa Award of Excellence to Salt Lake City  teen, Amber Dwyer, for her outstanding performance in photography and video at the Columbia Gorge Teen Photography and Video Camp which took place this past July.   The award includes a $500 gift certificate from B & H Photo in New York.  Academy Award winner and three-time Emmy Award winner William Mesa made the final selection after the camp presented nominees.

The selection was awarded based in part  on the camper who made the most progress from beginning to the end of camp.  Mesa said the qualities necessary to be successful in Photography and Video – a cooperative attitude and resourcefulness – apply in any field.  Creativity alone in today’s world is not sufficient.

Amber received the most nominations for her essay “What Photography and Video mean to me.”  A scholarship recipient to the camp, Amber won using limited equipment.  She works two jobs, yet maintains high grades and citizenship marks. Jan  Mayer, Camp Director,  presented the award today (12-19-14)  to Amber at Taylorsville High School shown her in this photo with the school principal, Mr. Muse.

In addition to the $500 gift certificate Amber will have the opportunity to  visit the William Mesa visual effects studio in Hollywood someday.

Jacob Weber receives Honorable Mention for the William Mesa Award

Jacob Webber - William Mesa Award Honorable Mention

Jacob Weber - William Mesa Award Honorable Mention

Jacob Weber, from Novato California received Honorable mention for the William Mesa Award of Excellence in Photography and Video. This award comes with a $250 gift certificate for B & H Photo in NYC.

Here’s what Jacob had to say about his time at Columbia Gorge Teen Camps:

Columbia Gorge Teen Camps is an excellent camp. The campgrounds are located in the middle of some of the most beautiful scenic places I have ever seen, and I’ve traveled to some fantastic places. Being in Lyle there is such an abundance of photos to be taken. One day we ventured to take photos of fish and the next it’s of kite surfers getting air off of a ramp. The landscapes were incredible and no matter your skill set you’ll leave with beautiful photos. Of course CGTC wouldn’t be the same without the counselors. They were extremely helpful and very talented in their fields. I’m looking forward to going back in the summer of 2015.

Enjoy some of Jacob’s excellent photos below.


C.I.T. PHOTOS by Nick Sadigh:

Nick was a Photography Camper with us in 2012, 2013, and a C.I.T. in 2014, and will be a counselor with us in 2015. Nick lives in Seattle and besides photography is interested in computer science, science, history, medicine, lacrosse, and crew! Thanks Nick for these Awesome photos!

Special Thanks To William Mesa of FlashFilmWorks…

William Mesa, founder and owner of FlashFilmWorks, a Hollywood  based special effects studio, was for two years in a row  one of our leading donors to our annual  scholarship fundraiser with crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo.  William is considered one of the most innovative visual effects director’s  in the film  industry.  He has three Emmy’s and has done  award- winning  work for The Fugitive, Outland,  Stand By Me, Rambo, The Karate Kid III, to name just a few of hundreds of his film credits.

You can read all about William and his amazing special effects company, FlashFilmWorks here:

William attended a YMCA summer camp in Griffith Park near Los Angeles, as a teen, and some 50 years later still remembers this experience  not only as inspirational but  life changing.  Time- permitting William has kindly offered to visit our camp this summer, no promises, but there is always the possibility!

Bouldering Summer Camp!

The Circuit’s Camp Rockstar is a great way to keep your child active during the summer months! During each week-long session, our instructors provide a fun and social climbing environment in which to explore new terrain and build confidence on and off the wall. Through group games, one-on-one instruction, and open climbing time, campers will learn techniques to improve their climbing. In addition to working on climbing development, our instructors lead campers in fun activities including slacklining, yoga, and outdoor games. Camp Rockstar is an award winning summer camp! Visit our website for more information and to register online. Offered at our two Portland locations from June 16th – August 28th. New Tigard location August 4th – 28th. Monday - Friday. 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Ages 5-12.

The Circuit Bouldering Gym opened in 2005 in Southwest Portland. We now boast 2 Portland locations and a third 19,000 square foot facility coming to Tigard this summer!

Earning a Living as a Professional Photographer

While it is not a big part of our Photography Camp, Photography campers in 2014  will get a chance to “pick the brains”   of our professional photographers concerning  how exactly they have gone about earning all or part of  their living with photography.

I have been most fortunate in getting to know many professional photographers.  Some have  have become my best friends, hence the creation of the Columbia Gorge Teen Photography Camp.  Some specialize in weddings, portraits, corporate or travel photography.  The sky seems to be the limit with photography.  In terms of earning a living doing what you love, photography seems to be king!  Outdoor photographers often specialize in action sports they already participate in  at a high level:  These would include surfing,  kite surfing, windsurfing, snow skiing, snowboarding , water skiiing or wake boarding, or rock climbing or mountaineering, among many other sports and adventure sports.  This stands to reason!  A surfing photographer will get much better surfing photographs if he is an advanced or expert surfer.  He will know who the best surfers are to photograph, the best surfing beaches to shoot, the best wind and tide conditions to be present, and would also know the lingo and the ins and outs of that particular  action-sport.  Many photographers shoot a bit of this and a bit of that, to keep broadening their horizons, to replenish their bank accounts and to broaden their customer base. But many end up specializing in shooting the sport they love the most and actively pursue. 

Ski photography is something that is very close to my heart as I have worked as a skier for professional photographers, and even photographed some excellent skiers, myself. High level, adventurous alpine snow skiing, particularly powder skiing,  has been a very big part of my life for over 45 years.  I have had the good fortune to have skied with some of the best skiers in  the world, and with some of the best ski photographers of the world.  These guys earn their humble living, let me tell you…

When renowned Alta Ski Photographer, Lee Cohen, recently brought me a signed copy of his book, “Alta Magic,” I was stunned by its overall beauty, and by his uncanny ability to capture some of the most spectacular moments of this surreal-high action  sport of deep powder skiing.  While there are lots of ski photographers who shoot powder skiing, no one to my knowledge has ever  captured these sublime moments as subjectively and captivatingly and authentically  as Lee.  Please enjoy the following interview with celebrated ski photographer, Lee Cohen as he is interviewed by  Learn how he got started, and how he gets absolutely amazing photographs  again and again of the famous deep powder skiing of Alta, Utah.  Special thanks to Lee Cohen and for allowing us to reprint this fascinating interview.  Enjoy

posted on  December 2, 2013 

I grew up within the tight-knit community of Alta, Utah, and the walls of my bedroom and most of my surroundings were covered with photographs taken by Lee Cohen—everything from the iconic white-room powder turn somewhere in the Cottonwood Canyons to a triple-rigged raft engulfed in the powerful rapids of the Cataract Canyon River. If you’ve ever taken a moment to look through an outdoor magazine, or a Patagonia or Columbia clothing catalog, chances are you’ve seen one of Lee’s photographic visions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in New York. I skied a bunch as a kid, not as much as families that had ski houses. My dad had skied during the ’40s, so he took me to the old school places—this little place Silvermine that doesn’t exist any more, Bromley, Mt. Snow. I had some friends who had ski houses near Hunter and Stratton. I got to go with them sometimes.

How did you get your start in photography? Were there any specific
motivations or influences?

I liked shooting pictures, so I started shooting my friends skiing. There wasn’t really anybody around Alta doing that, and ski photography was in a considerably earlier stage. There were a few ski photographers then, but it wasn’t as big of a deal as it is now. There wasn’t any kind of scene like there is now, and there wasn’t even such a thing as a pro skier in the sense that there is now.


Visit for the Full Interview