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We Dig Dark Park - We Are Mental Meetup - event recap

Words by Laura Rogoski

I recently held a two day Mental Health focused event at the Dark Park in Killington Vermont. “We Dig Dark Park.”  (February 10-11) 

“We Dig Dark Park” focuses on learning new skills, building new connections and strengthening existing friendships.  If you put a flier out on the internet and ask people to sit in a basement and talk about feelings I don’t think that many people would come.  It’s intimidating.  

We started each day by writing down a personal goal, a riding goal, and a social goal.  Painters tape and a sharpie made up our name tags.  Anyone who had shaping experience raised their hand.  We broke into loose groups spreading out the senior diggers. 

Building together in the morning sets the tone.  We are working together and encouraged to ask questions.  Before we transitioned into riding we stood in a circle and shared our name, where we were from, and something we were grateful for.  We were reminded that this event isn’t about who's the best on their board, it’s about each of us doing our best.  That might mean just showing up and cheering others on, or learning a new trick.  

Building with good vibes! Photo by @annaburchphoto Anna Burch

This year we had an incredible turnout with 40 people on the first day which was female / non-binary exclusive and 22 people on the second day which was open to everyone.

I was on the fence about putting on the event this year; It's expensive, I’m exhausted from traveling non-stop, working on my new home, and running We’re All Mental.  I did not get any financial support for the event and We’re All Mental is a bare bones operation with just enough money to keep our website alive and print magazines.  

My hope is that when brands see the photos and videos from our third year they recognize the growth of this event and how much it has impacted people's lives.  Your support in sharing and posting this event will help me fundraise next year.  I would like to be able to compensate the photographers, video, and diggers with more than a duffle bag, jacket, or hat.  

The first year we had around 11 participants on Saturday.  

The second year we had around 22 participants on Saturday.

The third year we expanded to two days and had around 41 participants on Saturday and 22 on Sunday.  There was a huge spread in ages - from 4 - 41, men, women, and non-binary individuals.  Sponsored riders, young kids on academy teams, and weekend warriors.  This event truly is for everyone.

The North Face, Coal, Liquid Death, and Roxy donated products.

Darkside Snowboards provided free pizza on the first day.

I included a list of testimonials (below the video).  I could go on about what this event means to me, but it is not about me.  It is about US.  About WE.  We’re All Mental.

Jarrod Seavey (1st year attending - Invited We’re All Mental shaper / advocate)

I drove down to the We Dig at Dark Park to make new connections with those who're like-minded while deepening the connections I've made in the past. To join those who may need support in pursuing a passion we all share a commonality in, and those who're showing interest in learning. I had some self-goal here.. I went down thinking if I could spark the light in one person who felt timid about getting involved by making them comfortable by getting them involved, I'd be making someone's day better. But it expands beyond that.. The reality is that this day may stick with them for the rest of their lives, on and off the board. Whether it be due to the knowledge I've accumulated over the years of shaping snow, boarding, or circumnavigating my own physical and mental health. I guess that all in all, it's important to recognize that no one should feel alone here, on and off the board. These connections are deep and exist for eternity.. They're bonds that really can't be broken no matter the distance. I could go on.. But to make it short, this is why the We're All Mental and the We Dig events are important to me.

Adam (1st year attending)

I drove 3 hours from Massachusetts in expectations of just being able to ride a hike park for free but i got so much more out of we dig dark park. I never thought I’d learn how to set up a park and get to meet new people within the snowboard community. Im so thankful that this community can be so supportive and open minded and welcoming. The level of progression within just that one day was absolutely wild. I can’t wait for the next WE DIG DARK PARK event!

Anna (invited photographer, 3rd year attending)

The first “We Dig Dark Park” in 2022 was the first snowboard event that I had ever photographed. I was extremely hesitant to put myself out there and explore this new side of photography, but I took a leap of faith when I heard about this opportunity. To my pleasant surprise, I was met with an extremely warm welcome by the “We’re All Mental” family. This event was a pivotal moment for me as a photographer, but it had an even bigger impact on me as a snowboarder and just as a person. While I’ve always loved riding, snowboarding had become a source of anxiety and insecurity for me. That inner voice can often be the thing that changes this sport that we all love so dearly into a source of fear and inadequacy. The community and conversation I was able to partake in that day demonstrated so clearly that I wasn’t alone. It helped remove me from that isolated and anxious space and made me realize that I’m part of a really strong and compassionate community. I’ve been a part of three “We Dig Dark Park” events and I’m so grateful for the “We’re All Mental” family and all of the likeminded people I’ve met because of it.

Kristyn (First year attending)

The Dig the Park/We’re all mental event at Darkside was epic. Such a powerful, welcoming and supportive environment. Next level hype. My wife and I brought our 4 year old daughter. When she introduced herself to the group everyone cheered for her. For her to have this kind of community at 4 years old beyond amazing. Can’t wait to come back next year to shred and be inspired.

Sof (First year attending, Saturday and Sunday)

Theres so many things I loved about the event, it's hard to pick just one to talk about. Learning how to actually build up the rails and then getting to sesh them with everyone was so fun. But what made the sesh extra special for me was writing down my goals for the day before we started. I'm not as confident doing frontboards and will often say I'll work on them, but inevitably end up avoiding it. Putting that goal on paper made the commitment for me real and I spent a good chunk of the day frontboarding! I learned a lot of coping strategies at the event and writing things down is a big one. 

Jordan (Second year attending, Saturday and Sunday year 2)

“I’m thankful for We Dig Dark Park, and what it can offer you physically, and mentally.  It’s a great social experience that helps you create connections you might not normally on your own. Some of the people I talk to almost daily now, and feel closest with I met in the Dark Park last year at this event.   And for someone who doesn’t usually go out their way to be “social”- I found it easier to be within the safe space we created.  We’re all going through “it”- and the mental meet-up was grounding to know I am not alone. And it’s okay to ask for help when you’re struggling.”

Erin (2nd year attending.  Saturday and Sunday year 2)

The We Dig Dark Park event was such a monumental weekend for me. It’s not often that I’m able to get together with so many new and old friends, and be able to share our love for snowboarding together while also showing the importance of mental health discussions in snowboarding. This event made me feel more included, heard, motivated, loved and genuinely stoked than I ever have been in this community. It made me rethink about why I love snowboarding so much, and how essential it is to talk about our thoughts and feelings with the people we love and care about. Mental Meetups give me comfort in the fact that I’m not alone in how I feel, and that my thoughts are valid. I feel encouraged to speak my mind without judgment, and I feel closer to my community as a whole. I will remember We Dig Dark Park forever

Leah (First year attending, Saturday and Sunday)

Hi my name is Leah and I participated in the 3rd annual We Dig Dark Park. I traveled eight hours up from Baltimore to be a part of one of the most fulfilling snowboard experiences thanks to Darkside and We Are Mental. To describe the amount of fun I’ve had within the past 48 hours is impossible. The people at this event took me in as if we’d been friends for years. Working in the ski industry as Park Crew I never realized how much I wished to connect to other female and queer riders that shared the same passion for the sport I did. I came up to this event to showcase what I knew about building parks and walked away with a strong sense of community, friendship, and respect for others and their experiences more than I have ever known. Can’t wait to see you all again next year. 



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