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Running Tip: How the Nike Brand’s Philosophy Influences Our Camp Culture

Nike Green Mountain Running Camp's staff coach Walt Chadwick speaks with former SMRC camper and staff member A.J. Ricketts about the presence and influence of the Nike brand and its philosophy at our running camps. 

Interview transcript:

AJ: When high school athletes take a week or even more out of their summer to come to a place that is maybe out of the way to spend that week, as you said, trying to attain personal excellence. Nike was really one of the first companies to go for marketing not just a shoe, but a spirit … that phrase, the logo, “Just Do It,” the mentality of running. Nike was one of the first companies to incorporate that. And here today, high school runners from around the country attending one of nineteen Nike Cross Country camps each and every year to attain that personal excellence. How special is that for you to see?

Walt: Oh, it’s great. I’m really pleased that Kimball Union Academy is now hosting the camp that Roy Benson has had such a tremendous influence on. Kimball Union has a unique setting, a really intimate campus, bucolic area, and plenty of trails they are constantly trying to improve for themselves and for us to use. I think the cooperation of the people there has been amazing. I think the response of the Green Mountain staff has been tremendous. There’s a mutual respect going on there that makes the Green Mountain camp a really nice place to be when the kids come up for a week. Although everyone can’t be totally one-on-one all the time, I think the kids get a lot of personal attention. Certainly, they have counselors and coaches that are more than willing to give them time if they ask for it. It’s a great situation.

AJ: It’s important for you, at Green Mountain Camp every year, to articulate the history of Nike at that camp. Really, it’s a great aspect of the camp experience. Taking a look at all the photographs you collected, the memories, the stories of Nike. And as the story of this brand, the Nike family continuing to evolve, what makes you most proud of the journey to where it is today?

Walt: What makes me most proud … I guess it’s that Nike is just huge. Far bigger than anyone expected it to be. And yet, I know there are people, like myself, especially Jeff Johnson and Roy Benson, who remember the running before the running boom. I mean, we’re currently a product of a running boom that was an amazing phenomenon and touched so many people’s lives. Improved them competitively. Improved them with their health and their long term outlook on life and lifestyle. And excuse me if I’m not on the subject the way you want me to be, but I think Nike, for all its faults being a large worldwide company that has lost some of that personal touch (it had to) that those of us who were lucky to be there in the formative years. It still has a major impact on how people can shape their own lives. They can take the opportunity to find out more about themselves by getting out three or four times a week, training for marathons. It’s such a larger impact than just pure running, but for me it’s still touching that pure running is what Nike has stood for forty odd years now. I don’t know if that answers your question but, you know, I’m what they’d call old school. I’m not caught up in the stuff that’s going on right now. I’m still backgrounded in the basics.

AJ: Now Walt, you’re evolving as well. We see that Instagram feed. We see you posting on social media. I think you’ve adapted pretty well.

Walt: HA! Well I have to give a shout out to Molly on that one. She encouraged me to get on the ‘gram’ and it took me about a year. Now I have to put my most recent accident out there to give it a little  sympathy

AJ: Molly a part of Nike as well, you can find her at camp each and every year. That’s Walt Chadwick who spent years with Nike product development, now an assistant coach at Colby-Sawyer College and Staff Coach at Nike Green Mountain Running Camp.

To sign up for GMRC or any Nike Cross Country Camp experience, head to ussportscamps.com/running. We’ll see you this summer out on the trails!

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