Paralyzed from the chest down, a Breckenridge man prepares to hit the slopes again | SummitDaily.com

Paralyzed from the chest down, a Breckenridge man prepares to hit the slopes again

Elise Reuter
ereuter@summitdaily.com

Bond Camp was skiing one of his best lines of the season, in the Crystal Lakes backcountry near Breckenridge, when he caught an edge. Slamming onto his back, Bond Camp's thoracic vertebrae were fractured, paralyzing him from the chest down.

Since the accident, Camp has traded two boards for one, working with the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation to advance his recovery. In a week, Camp will join several other adaptive athletes for a surf camp in Hawaii through the California-based nonprofit. Camp currently surfs prone, having built up strength in his core and upper arms through constant physical therapy.

"At first, I just didn't have the strength. I was in the hospital for two months," Camp said. "A lot of stuff was really difficult; Just getting in and out of the car took the better part of five minutes. Now, I feel like I'm getting stronger every day."

Camp currently resides in Hawaii, where he does Neurokinetic Pilates for two hours every day. The training is meant to not only build strength, but also to help the brain rebuild connections.

"This kind of stuff doesn't get fixed overnight," he said. "The goal is to walk again, but if that doesn't happen, when you have so much functionality taken away from you, a two percent increase in ability can go a really long way."

BUILDING A HOME IN SUMMIT

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Originally from Georgia, Camp moved west to attend the University of Colorado. After working in commercial real estate for a short stint, he moved to Hawaii for a few years. A trip to South America gave him his next idea: the Bivvi, a chic Breckenridge hostel offering a shared space for travelers.

Camp said he and his former college roommate, Worthy McCormick, first thought of opening one during a surf trip to Ecuador. Years later, in 2013, they put their plan into action.

After sorting through several names, both agreed on "the Bivouac," meaning an impromptu shelter, and a nod to their shared background in climbing.

"The winters are jam-packed. Summers every year get better," Camp said. "I like to be around for the opening of every season to make sure everything's running smoothly… You can't beat a Colorado summer; it's amazing."

While Camp is able to work remotely, keeping an eye on the hostel from his home in Hawaii, he plans to return for the summer reopening and the winter season as well.

"We both really enjoy the work," Camp said. "Ideally, would like to expand the idea and work our way into other properties."

Come winter, Camp also hopes to get back on the mountain, for the first time since the accident.

"Bond is an amazing individual," said Steve Wallace, who works with Athlete Relations for the High Fives Foundation. "Mark my words, he will go skiing this winter."

THE ROAD TO RECOVERY

Wallace, a career ski racer, is more familiar than most with Camp's situation. In 2008, he suffered a burst fracture of his T9 vertebrae while skiing. One of the first recipients of High Fives' Winter Empowerment Fund, Wallace has since buckled back into his skis with the assistance of outriggers, essentially poles with ski tips at the ends.

"Bond has a pretty unique and tough injury. It makes his life pretty hard. And he never talks about it," Wallace said. "All he does is figure out different ways to do what he wants to do."

With a T2/T3 vertebrae fracture, not only are the legs affected, but trunk mobility, bowel and bladder functions are as well. Wallace said they start with surfing to regain a sense of balance and core strength before hitting the slopes.

"He works so hard," Wallace said. "He's experiencing amazing breakthroughs in his recovery."

Camp said he would most likely start with a monoski for his first season, navigating the wide ski using a mixture of core strength, balance and outriggers.

"My shoulders are practically my hips these days," Camp laughed. "I'm definitely gonna go surfing, get on the mountain and just continue to be involved."

High Fives also provides a facility with trainers and treatment rooms in California, specialized for assisting with spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries. Outside of assisting with recovery, they also spread prevention and awareness to schools with programming on mountain action sports.

"For one, just having a group of peers that have a similar mindset and similar interests is amazing," Camp said. "It's great physical exercise — mental too — being able to get back in the water with your friends."

High Fives will continue to cover the costs of Camp's recovery, in addition to providing adaptive equipment to help with everyday life. For the moment, Camp is focused on physical therapy, which he will continue for a long time.

"It's pretty easy. You wake up and look at your chair and you think, 'I hate that thing,'" Camp said. "Even to be able to stand and go short distances would be amazing."

Not only did Camp thank High Fives for their assistance, but he has also found strength in the support of family and friends, and his girlfriend.

"Not only has High Fives done so much, but having her around is pretty awesome," he said.

In the future, Camp hopes to assist other athletes through the High Fives Foundation, encouraging those who recently suffered spinal cord injuries.

"People are getting these injuries all the time," he said. "If I can be an example for people who are new to paralysis and spinal cord injuries, that's how I can pay it forward."

— Video courtesy of the High Fives Non-Profit Foundation.

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