Cam Barrett is the epitome of Northwest OG. For the last 3 decades, Cam has been ripping the streets of Bellingham, while also making his mark in Portland and Austin along the way. He’s always been one of our favorites. With a unique and raw style that we've been long time fans of, Cam makes anything and everything he does look damn good. A conversation with this veteran toesman has been long overdue. In this Toe Spotlight, we sit down with the Northwest legend to talk about skating in Bellingham, recovering from serious injuries, and a 3-year project known as “Salish Return.” It was an honor to sit down with someone who we have fanned out on for decades. Cam, thanks for doing this... YOU’RE THE MAN!

Travis: Jumping right in, I’d like to start at the beginning. So, how long have you been skating?
Cam: It’s a little tough to nail down. I got my first board at 4-years old and rolled around plenty while doing other little kid shit. Some years later, I got a double kicktail, started the third grade, and learned how to ollie up a curb. I’m gonna say about 30 years, give or take.
Travis: Damn! Its definitely not everyday that you meet someone whose bene in the game 30-years (even for someone my age). Thats so rad. I understand that you grew up in Bellingham, WA. What was growing up skating there like?
Cam: Bellingham has always had a cool skate scene. As mentioned before, I started young. So, as I got older, I was progressively able to explore more of the city. I was also always the young kid, so I had plenty of skaters to look up to. I remember the first time I went to the college to skate... I was blown away. A lot of those spots are still there, too. There was no skatepark for a while, so it was all pretty pure exploration. The ground was a little smoother then, too.
Cam Barrett

Front Board pop over | Bellingham, Wa | photo: Zahina

Travis: Smooth ground in WA? Can’t say I’ve ever experienced that. Haha! So, what other cities have you lived in, and which one was your favorite for skating?
Cam: Well it really only comes down to two other cities: Austin, TX, and Portland, OR. Of those two, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. My time in Austin was short, like 9 months or so total. It was only the heat and the fact that I was still pretty young that led me back to Washington. The ditches are amazing there and I loved them. The scene was amazing and still is. I was there right as No-Comply skate shop opened up. Shout out all the Austin homies! I’m still hoping for a return.
I lived in Portland for 9 years. I think people know enough about the skate scene there that I don’t have to go into detail. It really just came down to having a good group of friends and skateboarders to hang with. They’re all still good friends.
Shit, I diverted from your actual question. I would actually say Austin was my favorite to skate in because of all the ditches and unique spots I had never come across anywhere else.
Travis: Those are definitely two solid cities. During your time in those home-away-from-homes, when did you first become acquainted with toebock. Or, to be more specific to the younger days of Team Toe, when did you meet Adam Crew?
Cam Barrett

50 Salmon Ditch | photo: Liam Gallagher

Cam: I first met Adam through Zac Garza, a longtime skater and friend to many, originally from Kitsap County. Zac, who owns Unknown Boardshop, has lived in Bellingham for a long time now, but he was a bit new in town way back when I met him. At one point Zac, myself and another friend took a road trip down to Sunnyvale, CA, where we met and stayed with Adam. After that we just continued to connect here and there throughout the years, including while I was living in Austin.
Travis: Sunnyvale is definitely one of the promised lands of toebock. Speaking of toebock, here’s a toebock question: Do you feel that being a Long Body has helped your skating, or hindered it?
Cam Barrett

Cam takes a slam IN the Motherland | Bremerton, Wa | Photos: Crew

"Basically, just playing chess with my body and my health."

Cam: Hah! I would say it has mostly helped, but not without its tolls. I can honestly say the slams are harder when you do finally go down.
Travis: Haha. I wouldn’t know; I’m a Short Stack and we kind of just... well, STACK when we slam. Haha!
I want to move on to the current project you’re working. Salish Return—I believe this project just hit the 3-year mark. What have been the biggest challenges for you while working on this project?
Cam: Basically, just playing chess with my body and my health.
Travis: Have you suffered any serious injuries? If so, how did that injury—or injuries—tie into you doing Salish Return?
Cam: So, I moved back to Bellingham. I was eager to greet a new Bellingham skate scene and carve out my own piece of it. Not long after, my knee fell apart with all signs pointing to a torn meniscus. Never went to the doctor and I still have not. There is no good excuse for that either. I’m just terrible with some adult aspects of life, like doctors, insurance, etc. It’s stupid.
Travis: I think that’s a struggle for a lot of us.
Cam: Yeah, definitely. Anyway, I began a journey at this point of figuring out how I was gonna skate again. At first, I just chilled and did literally nothing—and that was a mistake for sure. The skate muscles I did have were atrophied before too long. But a pivotal point came when a friend from down south moved up to Bellingham.
Josh Knapp is a buddy I had met from my time in Portland, though he is actually from WA as well. Josh is the definition of a skate rat. On top of that, he is extremely resourceful and doesn’t waste much time doing anything but working, skating, or being with his family. So, he would pick me up even when I could barely skate. I remember showing him spots while I could barely ollie up a curb.
Travis: So it’s safe to say that your homie Josh has been a big piece of Salish Return?
Cam: Most definitely. His persistence and drive had an effect on me, and slowly but surely, I started to get some of what I lost back. I eventually got to the point where I filmed a couple easy clips with the homie Craig Louthan, and it started to spiderweb from there. My goal was—and still is today—to figure out how to skate pain-free, which was the only thing really holding me back.
Cam Barrett

Josh Knapp | Bellingham, Wa | Photo: Zahina

Travis: Do have any advice for others who might be dealing with a serious injury from skating?
Cam: You can build yourself up all you want but skating will still destroy you in the process. To start getting my strength back, I started taking my diet and exercise more seriously. I also got into Ben Patrick’s Kneesovertoesguy program, which had pretty profound results. It was starting to look like I could finish a full part.
Travis: So, now you’re pretty much fully recovered. What kept you motivated to go out and skate? What keeps you motivated to keep going today?
Cam: Even today, Josh is just constantly ripping and motivated, camera or not. Shortly after I recovered, we started finding some wild stuff to skate, as well as reviving old spots. That in of itself is my favorite part of skating currently. Finding something, putting work in, and making it go. Even if I just do a basic trick, to me its way more fun and rewarding than some skatepark shit.
Travis: I feel that for sure. What outside forces have kept you inspired while working on Salish Return?
Cam: At some point, when I was really struggling to skate, Kyle Nolan and Ben Ericson put out a part for Kyle called Wester. It had heavy Northwest vibes and I immediately thought, “Damn, I want that for me here in Bellingham”. So, that was a direct inspiration. About halfway through this project, I reconnected with Adam Crew, and he helped support me through FIREXSIDE. That was a boost for sure. I also got to meet and make friends with the homies in Bremerton at Location skate shop. So, that was rad to make a new connection and come to a city that was fresh to me.
Travis: That Kyle Nolan part is super raw. I’m also a huge fan of just about anything Ben Ericson puts out. Any other inspirations that aren’t skate-related?
Cam: I’d say having a heavy love of music and even playing some of my own has kept me motivated. I do a lot of daydreaming to music, I guess.
Travis: What would you say is the underlying theme of this project?
Cam: Well, first I’d like to say that one of my favorite things about filming over so many years and having parts—whether random or not—is that they’re like a snapshot of time periods in a person’s life. There are so many clips of my own in which I can remember individual details of the day. I love having them organized into a part as a reminder of where I was. To that point, I have absolutely no problem with a part taking 3 years to complete.
I struggle to think of these as themes, but I know what this part means to me and what I will look back and reflect on. Namely, starting and finishing something. Being happy with doing your best. And skateboarding being a catalyst for healthier living as I continue to do this in my late 30s.
Travis: I love it! Are there any future projects or specific goals that you're stoked on?
Cam: Well, of course, continuing to skate the best I can. Besides that, mostly just taking some of this skate-ethic as of late and applying it to other parts of my life: my music, work, and beyond. Basically, just being happy and motivated, not being a burnout. Maybe see a doctor, I don’t know?!
Travis: Haha! OK, I’ll close the curtains with the question I always like to end with. Ready? Top 3 favorite skaters... GO!
Cam: Since you gave me three options, I will break this down.
Back in the day: Cairo Foster.
Currently: Wes Kremer.
Homies: Josh Knapp because of all the mentions above. And also Brick Straight, because it seems like he is living his best life at the moment and killing it on the board. I’m stoked for him and want a piece of that myself.

About Travis Knight - Travis is an American author who has spent most of his life immersed in reading and writing stories. As a teenager, he started writing poetry and skateboard blogs while traveling across the US. Later in his adulthood, he began publishing stories through and through his own literary collection, He has published one book, a collection of poetry titled, "PorchSide Poems."