The Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) Youth Dirt Camps have a strong legacy of turning Whistler kids into competitive athletes — while teaching them how to have fun mountain biking.
“It’s been a fun 10 years. I say every year that this is my last year, but I’m still there,” laughed Munro Duncan, who goes by the nickname “Munny.”
The veteran coach has now been at the helm of the Dirt Camps for a decade. In that time he has grown the program from a handful of kids meeting outside the Bike Co to putting hundreds of young mountain bikers over about a dozen camps throughout the summer. Coaches and kids alike can attest to Munny’s ability to get you excited about a day of mountain biking.
“I think it’s just his personality,” said Kyle Long, who has been coaching with Munny for the last three years. “When it comes to the introduction of the sport, when it comes to getting someone involved where they may not be completely interested or just creating an environment where every kid feels included. If someone’s not having an awesome day he has something, some joke, some little trick to play to turn it around. He has an infectious enthusiasm.”
While the Dirt Camps have helped produce world-class racers like Jesse Melamed, Duncan will push every child in his class so they can see what they are capable of.
His past excursions have taken kids as far as Screaming Cat Lake on Rainbow Mountain.
“I am notorious for taking kids up the Flank,” said Duncan. “The magic happens outside the circle of your comfort zone. I always encourage (kids) not to be afraid of trying something new. There were many, many days when we were riding and we had to push our bikes. I tell the kids it’s okay to push their bikes and cry at the same time. I put everything in perspective and tell them, ‘You’ve got six hours, you can do it.’”
After Melamed attended the Dirt Camps himself for a few seasons, Duncan hired on the then-sixteen year-old as a coach. It was not long before Melamed saw how valuable Duncan was to the program and how much he could learn himself from everyone’s favourite coach.
“Munny is one of a kind,” said Melamed. “There’s other camps in Whistler, but we get so many reviews back from parents just saying how different we are, how much better we are and how much more our coaches care. I think a lot of that has to do with Munny and the environment that he builds.”
But Duncan himself won’t accept all the credit, pointing to the tight group of core coaches that have coached with him for the last seven years as the reason for the program’s success.
“The coaches keep coming because they enjoy the program. They enjoy coaching, it’s what they do,” said Duncan. “The kids are looking up to such great role models, as mountain bikers and community leaders.”