Waxing Workshop

A hands-on experience.

By Jordan Kalb

Many students do not feel they have the time or money to keep up with their love for winter sports. Upon entering college, priorities and responsibilities tend to be modified from what they were in high school.

A slow turnout at UWM’s Adventure Center during the ski and snowboard waxing workshop gave tuning specialist, Derrick Henry, more individual time with the participants who did attend.

The workshop was held in the Adventure center, located in the basement of the UWM Union. 2 staff members hosted the event in an attempt to provide students with a convenient way to prepare their skis and snowboards for the upcoming season.

Henry, the head instructor of the waxing workshop, mentioned that winter sports are a way to individualize one’s self, and build character. He said the center is a great resource for students to be able to financially afford to do what they love, and to release stress.

“The center is a place for students to create new hobbies, and get out of the repetitive college life,” said Henry. “We are trying to get the kids out of school and out of the mentality that they just have to be here doing school work constantly.”

The Adventure Center is a facility for students to rent recreational gear such as camping equipment, winter accessories, roller blades, volleyball and croquet sets, and even protective gear to safely enjoy the activities offered.

The center is also a place to go to escape from campus; it provides supervised trips ranging from:

• Six flags voyage
• Charter fishing
• Rock climbing
• Ski and snowboard vacations
• Pumpkin and apple picking

Student Input

Al Kraemer, a Geo-Science junior at UWM, has been renting gear from the Adventure Center for a few years now. Although he falls into the category of not having enough time to enjoy the same winter sports he did in high school, the advice he gives is, make time.

“The time thing, I think I went snowboarding once last year,” said Kraemer. “I was fairly disappointed with myself.”

As for freshman Laura Stevens, a food culture and anthropology student at UWM, she has not yet had to balance her winter hobby with a demanding college schedule.

“In high school, I boarded often, I would say probably once a week,” said Stevens.


For a $10 fee, students were encouraged to bring their equipment to the Adventure Center and receive one-on-one guidance from an instructor on how to properly wax their winter accessories. Henry advised the participants step-by-step on how to drip, spread, and scrape the wax to prolong the life of their gear, which made the experience hands-on.

Stationed in the basement of the UWM Union, the center set up saw horses to seize the boards, and a catch tarp to trap all of the overkill wax. The lesson began, and with supervision from Henry the students began melting wax onto their boards using a flat surface iron specifically designed for the job.

Stevens, 1 of only 3 people that showed interest by coming to the event, commented that she was drawn to it because it was convenient. Being a freshman, she says her transportation is limited.

“It was pretty helpful,” said Stevens. “He told me some things that I actually didn’t know, so it was informational too. I saw that it was right on campus, so I wouldn’t have to lug my board across town.”

Henry told the participants that buying your own materials to wax at home can be costly, but it would be an investment for frequent riders. Stores like Zumiez and Moda 3 charge nearly seventy-five dollars for all the materials to get started. Specialty shops such as Les Moise and Wheel and Sprocket charge up to fifty dollars per visit to tune a snowboard or skis. This service includes sharpening of the edges and entire wax job. However, he says that the Adventure Center does provide space and offers waxing lessons year round.

“When you are giving your snowboard to a ski hill or snowboard shop, you are paying them to basically do the service for you,” said Henry. “You are getting a finished product that you have not seen the process of.”

Advice and Procedure

With hot wax hardening onto the base of their boards, the students began to scrape the excess wax off of their equipment. The wax curled, as they dragged the scraper from the nose to the tail. Wax shavings plummeted to the surface below where there was a catch tarp, which provided a clean working surface and made for an easy cleanup. The students assisted each other by holding the boards while one applied larger amounts of pressure to ensure all of the surplus wax was gone.

“Don’t be afraid to give it some pressure, there is a lot of wax to come off,” said Henry. “When you start doing this yourself, you can collect the scrapings off the ground if it is a clean surface and reuse those. I have a big bag of those at my house.”

According to the Adventure Center, their services provide a convenient and affordable way to keep your gear in top shape without having to purchase pricey equipment or professional assistance. The students are allowed to leave with a free scraper, so if they decide to wax on their own that is just one less thing for them to buy. They leave with a fully tuned board and the center staff is responsible for clean up after each session, which gives the students just that much more time to hit the slopes.

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