Claudia Sjoberg is the owner and president of Atlantis Programs and Pedalheads, popular summer camp programs. She started the swimming program in 1986 and the Pedalheads bike camps in 1995 and has seen them grow quickly in popularity over the years.
What were you doing before you opened your business?
I was the pool programmer at Sungod Aquatic Centre in North Delta and two years out of UBC. Basically that was the one and only full time job of my life.
What inspired you to start your company?
I met my business partner Phyllis at the aquatic centre (we were partners for 4 years) and we used to sit around and dream of all the great things we could do on our own without the confines and rules of working in a government bureaucracy.
I just loved aquatics. I took and taught every course out there and volunteered for Red Cross and the Lifesaving Society. I loved pools in general, plus I have a natural entrepreneurial inclination so it evolved from there.
What is your company all about?
We offer swimming lessons and camps plus bike camps, mountain bike programs and all-day camps for kids aged 6 months to 15 years.
What’s your vision for your company?
My vision is to get kids and families excited about biking and swimming so they’ll want to participate for fun all their lives.
I think it’s important for people to see the opportunities and possibilities that exist for them: biking and swimming as competitive sports, biking for transportation, biking and swimming for exercise, and biking and swimming just for fun.
Our mission now is “We love it here!” and we want that to apply to everyone that encounters our business, from the instructors to the parents to the kids themselves.
What excites you about what you’re doing?
In the past few years, the business has grown to include camps in Alberta and Ontario. I love bringing the camps to new communities and working to get everyone excited about Pedalheads.
What are some early examples of success?
In 2011, over 17,000 kids will participate in our camps. We have over 300 employees (most are summer instructors). We also are experiencing the circle of Pedalheads and Atlantis where many kids who have been campers grow up to volunteer, become instructors and even supervisors. It makes me feel like I have a legacy!
Are there any charities or organizations you’re involved in?
Personally, I do a tonne of community work. I am the chair of the Charles Dickens Elementary PAC and the silent auction convener of the School Spring Fling. I am on the board of Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House, and I am also organizing the Glen Drive Greenway project in my neighbourhood.
For the business, we run a program called Every Kid Needs a Bike where we work with Kidsafe and provide bikes, helmets, locks and training for kids in need. We also work with Wheel to Heal and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. In addition, we give out more than 50 donation packages to fundraising events for schools and other organizations.
What’s next for you?
I’d love to see Pedalheads camps expand to Quebec and maybe even down to the States. Pedalheads for everyone!