Q&A with Claire Fitzgerald, Bike Camper and Volunteer
By Kim Whitney, Youth Program Manager
For the last two years, Claire Fitzgerald rode with us in our Urban Riders and Advanced Riders bike camps, learning how to ride up and down hills safely, while exploring destinations far beyond NE Portland. When she wasn’t climbing multiple hills in a day with other teens, she spent time with us supporting younger kids as a Bike Camp Junior Instructor. We caught up with her this winter to learn about camp from her perspective:
On being a Bike Camp participant:
As a teen, we realize that you have a lot of fun opportunities in Portland. What inspires you to return to Bike Camp year after year?
I love the outdoors and the kids at Bike Camp are always friendly and inclusive. I love to bike and it is good exercise that gets me ready for cross-country running in the fall.
Share your experience in the Urban Riders and Advanced Riders camps. What do campers learn?
We go on longer and more challenging rides which include hills with great views of Portland and the surrounding mountains. We ride to parks where we play intense running games like Capture the Flag and Infection. We learn the basics of bike safety and repairs, but it’s mostly about having fun and meeting new people. I love it when I return to camp and see kids from previous years!
Has Bike Camp changed what you thought about bikes or bicycling?
It made me realize how important bike safety is and how important it is to teach young children how to ride safely. All kids should have the chance to learn how to ride because it is so much fun.
What was your favorite ride in Bike Camp?
I loved riding to Mt Tabor and racing the other campers to the top.
Where do you ride your bike when you are not in Bike Camp?
I sometimes ride my bike to Oaks Park with my friend in the summer, but usually I go on organized rides such as The Worst Day of the Year ride, Reach the Beach or the Lucky Lab “Big Dog” ride.
What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t riding your bike?
I love to cook, read books, participate in Science Olympiad and go to museums.
What would your dream bike look like?
It would be a teal color and it would be a road / racing bike with upright handle bars and the frame would light up when you pedal. It would of course have a safety and tool kit attached.
If your week of camp was turned into a movie, what would the title be and who would play you?
The Best Week of the Year Ride. My character would be played by a young Audrey Hepburn (my favorite actress).
On being a Bike Camp Junior Instructor:
What was it like to support a Bike Camp rather than be a participant?
It was very different because there was more freedom and I was treated as a grown up.
What skills did you learn or practice in your role as a volunteer?
I learned a lot about dealing with young children – how much they love to play underdog on the swing set and how easy it is to distract them when they get into a fight. I found out that they really looked up to me and listened to me.
What did you most enjoy about supporting the younger campers?
I thought they were very entertaining because they say and do such funny things.
Any fun anecdotes or stories to share from your experience as a Junior Bike Instructor, supporting 6-8 year olds riding bikes?
The kids would fall over, but it was so quick and easy to get them back up on their bikes – they were so brave. There was some tattle telling, but they made up quickly and were back to being best friends again in no time. They were just so cute.