I should start things off by saying that this wasn’t actually the worst trip of my life. The universe threw us a bunch of curveballs resulting in me only having two shooting days instead of ten, so it was definitely the shortest amount of time spent shooting versus time travelling, but not the worst trip ever. It should have been so simple. Two RVs from Best Caravan Finland, a sick crew and ten days on the road. What could go wrong there? As it turns out, a lot. 

The crew is Niels Schack, Sami Luhtanen, Will Smith, Antti Jussila and Tobbe on the camera. They leave Helsinki on the morning of March 19th. My flight lands in the afternoon, and I plan to catch up with them by train and start shooting the following morning. When I get to the station, I discover a train strike. It’s grey, raining, and it smells like cigarettes and despair. I eat a doughnut and a bag of blue sweets, and instantly develop a headache. 

After some internet research and a call with Niels, I discover several things. The train strike is running indefinitely, there are no more buses today and two of the three tomorrow are already sold out. We also only have one RV instead of two, and it hasn’t even been collected yet. Sami has to drive back to Helsinki tomorrow afternoon to get it. I could hang around and get a ride with him, but I decide not to rely on his timings and book myself the morning bus in the hopes of still being able to shoot something in the afternoon. I hate missing out on spots, so I want to get there as fast as possible. Antti says his girlfriend can give me his spare keys and I can stay at his place downtown, so at least I don’t have to pay to spend the night somewhere. That night, I eat alone in a Japanese restaurant around the corner from his apartment.


© Theo Acworth SAMI & TOBBE


WOPSpring_TheoAcworth-2938 copy.jpg
© Theo Acworth ANTTI JUSSILA


I don’t sleep particularly well, and the following morning I arrive at my bus stop ten minutes before it leaves, plenty of time to find the platform, or so I thought. The bus station is located within a multi-storey shopping centre, with no clear signs and nowhere obvious to get information. I fucking hate shopping centres. Why would someone hide a bus depot inside this nightmare? Down two escalators, I find a group of platforms numbered 22-45. I’m looking for number 7, which is nowhere in sight. Somewhere, my bus leaves without me. As mentioned, the other two buses are sold out already (not that I even know where they depart from). Another call with Niels informs me that Sami will be in Helsinki at 2 pm. It seems like I won’t be shooting today, but at least I have a ride later and will link up with the crew tonight. More spots missed, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

While trying to find a spot for lunch, I accidentally find platform 7. It’s located on the other side of the shopping centre, around a corner, and down a secret tunnel to another floor. 2 pm comes around, and there is no word from Sami. 3 pm, he calls me. He’s just returned to his place and will leave soon to collect the camper. 4 pm, he calls me. His car is dead, and by the time someone can come to fix it, the camper rental place will be closed. It turns out it’s located an hour outside of Helsinki and not on any public transport routes, so I can’t get to it before it closes either. This is insane. More shooting time lost.

We arrange to meet there at 9 the following morning, and I return to Antti’s place. Luckily I still have the key. I console myself with a visit to a second-hand clothing store, get a 25-minute neck and shoulder massage, take photos of strangers on trams, eat a burrito, and then fail to sleep until 3 am. Doubts are creeping in. Should I just go home? No. I want to shoot with this crew. It will work.




A pre-booked Uber takes me to the camper spot for 9 am. Sami arrives 20 minutes later wearing purple sweatpants and a pair of slippers. I’ve already signed the papers for the RV and had the chemical toilet explained to me. The rental lady is visibly confused as Sami unloads power tools, snowboards, and a winch into the camper’s spacious cargo hold. Our 3-hour journey takes longer than 3 hours. During the drive, I realise that we can’t comfortably fit six snowboarders in an RV and will need to book additional accommodation. It seems like this won’t quite be the carefree road trip we’d planned, but oh well. It is what it is.

Light snow begins to fall as we finally link up with the crew. They have an Airbnb at a summer holiday resort located 45km from the Russian border. As we drive in, I see a sign that says ‘Welcome to Paradise’. I am somewhat sceptical of that claim, but paradise or not, at least we’re all together. 

Through the fence surrounding the pool area, we see a bunch of very homemade-looking sculptures and waterslides. I don’t know what they’re made of, but I suspect it’s harmful if inhaled. There are some big mushrooms, a boat with a topless figurehead, and a giant crocodile slide, which I name the WOPodile. You go in through its ass and come out through its mouth. You don’t find things like this too often, I can see endless options for shots on it and am fired up. It also turns out that the caretaker of this place is from the same town as Sami, and we obtain permission to ‘jump over things’.

Ok, it’s on. We have unique-looking spots, no risk of being kicked, and a lot of snow on the ground. As we prep spots for the morning, Sami discovers a ladder buried in the snow. Apparently he’s been looking for one for a while and is visibly delighted. I take this as a good omen. Then Tobbe tells us he’s starting to feel sick. During the night, the snow turns to rain.


© Theo Acworth SAMI LUHTANEN 
© Theo Acworth WILL SMITH


The following morning moves slowly. Sami sleeps late in the camper and then potters around the apartment. He’s wearing a glow-in-the-dark Mercedes t-shirt, has had an unlit cigarette in his mouth for half an hour and is flipping a knife in his hands, catching it on the blade more often than the handle. He’s softly-spoken, has a good sense of humour, and regularly mentions lizard people. Niels is looking after us with food and tunes. He is a young man with an old soul, and there are many things going on inside his head. Antti and Will are sitting on the sofa. Antti is easygoing, pragmatic, and doesn’t seem stressed about too much. Will is always down to put in the work for those willing to do the same for him, and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He shows us time-lapses of paintings he’s done on his iPad. He’s an amazing artist, and I marvel at the things he creates. I don’t really know Tobbe yet, but he tells us he is feeling worse than he did yesterday. He’s down to film, but won’t be shovelling and will try to stay inside as much as possible. Fair enough.

We start with Antti’s mushroom. Thanks to the rain, our boots punch through the snow to our knees as we bring the winch over. A small snow bridge needs to be constructed for the inrun, but the winch works, and he gets his trick pretty fast. It takes me longer to get my photo, and I’m reminded of why I don’t like flashes. Tobbe moves inside the camper, which Sami has driven in through a back gate and right up to the spot. Sami seriously loves it and is taking every opportunity he can to drive it. Tobbe is tucked up in the bed in the back, and he looks cosy.




Up next is Niels’ spot, the heaviest of the trip. It’s a gap into a wavy slide. The slide is intact, but the starting platform is in ruins, and it’s surrounded by a giant pile of spiky debris. It’s either been hit by a hurricane, or someone started demolishing it and gave up halfway through. Niels has to winch around a corner, then gap into the slide. It’s not the hugest gap, but if he fucked up the speed and came up short, he would be falling onto an actual pile of spikes, like something from an Indiana Jones movie. Sami removes some of the deadliest-looking bits with his electric chainsaw. In case you didn’t know, Sami loves his tools.

After several speed checks, Niels goes for it, lacing it perfectly while wearing a sparkly pink trucker cap. He stomps several more, then eats absolute shit at the bottom of the slide after I ask him for one more from another angle. I feel terrible about this, but luckily he’s ok. 

Behind us, Will has been busy prepping his pirate ship and its topless figurehead. It’s wearing an expression I can’t quite identify. He calls it his ‘Chebby Lady’. Will has a savage style and quickly puts down a few tasty backtails. I love shooting weird spots like this and am stoked with the photo we get. Darkness is rapidly approaching, and behind us, Sami is prepping a roof drop to a wooden double kink rail, which is gnarly and definitely sketchy. He almost smashes his chin on the rail after slipping out, and the spot is abandoned. I had a sick photo and it’s a shame I don’t get to use it, but at least Sami hasn’t smashed all of his teeth out, or broken his neck.


© Theo Acworth NIELS SCHACK


© Theo Acworth


The following morning Tobbe is feeling much worse. He tells us he can’t even stand up for too long and definitely won’t be going outside to film. Niels is looking after him with pills and French fries. Antti and Sami go to the shops, and Will and I try to make the most of the day by shooting some photos. He’s eyeing up the WOPodile, wanting to ollie on and wallie off its snout, and we set it up. Antti, like the champ he is, returns with a fillet of warm smoked salmon. Will says he doesn’t like salmon and doesn’t want any, but it turns out he actually does like it a bit.

After a couple of test hits, we quickly realise that his trick is sick, and needs to be filmed. I mean, how often do you get to ride a giant crocodile? Tobbe doesn’t want to come outside. He doesn’t want his camera to come outside, either. After some negotiating, we obtain his camera and the fisheye, and after several attempts and cut heads by Sami, Will gets an amazing clip. Sami then handplants the crocodile for me, resulting in another photo that I love.

It’s now totally dark, and we retreat inside our cabin and catch the last half an hour of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on TV, starting from the bit where Ron is riding around on the chess set. Antti makes us some delicious soup for dinner, Niels is enamoured with it and interrogates him about the recipe.

At some point that evening, we have a meeting to discuss what we’re actually doing for the remainder of the trip and come to the conclusion that the whole thing has been overwhelmingly underwhelming. Sami and Antti both say they’re starting to feel sick. After some suspicious last-minute points from Dumbledore, Gryffindor wins the house cup.


© Theo Acworth




The following morning Antti leaves with Will to go back to Helsinki. Tobbe is still in bed, and so is Sami. Niels wants to do something with the day, and convinces me to go swimming with him in a semi-frozen lake. Unfortunately the sauna next to it is closed. Niels moves gracefully through the water and looks like he does this sort of thing all the time. It’s a bit more of a challenge for me, but I didn’t scream, and I’m happy I did it. The rest of the day is spent playing cards and watching Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets.

At some point during the evening, Antti calls and tells us he’s just tested positive for covid. Ah. Tobbe’s illness suddenly makes more sense. Niels and I are both feeling fine, Sami isn’t making a big deal out of it, but he says he’s also feeling worse than he was in the morning. Tobbe is definitely not improving and wants to go home. We decide to call it and bail out the following day. Niels is sad, he had high hopes for this trip and was emotionally invested in its success. He never even got to sleep in the camper. I’m sad too, but considering everything else that’s gone wrong, I can’t say I’m surprised. At least I had two-ish days to shoot and have enough photos to make this article. 

We plan to keep our eyes open for spots on the way back to Helsinki. Maybe we’ll find something to hit quickly so the day isn’t a total waste. Tobbe and Sami will drive in comfort in the camper, and Niels and I will be in the less comfortable but far more infamous WOP Hiace. We pull out of the resort, and Tobbe and Sami immediately drive in the opposite direction we’d planned. We call them. They do not intend to find spots and want to go home as fast as they can. Niels is bummed, but I can’t say I blame them.




© Theo Acworth NIELS IN A LAKE
© Theo Acworth NIELS AT A CASTLE


On the drive back, we stop at a nearby castle and take a lap around the ramparts, but decide the entrance fee for the main halls was a bit too high for our budgets, so we buy some commemorative coins instead, and then have lunch in a nearby restaurant. The Hiace lights were left on by mistake and the battery was dead when we returned, but luckily we get a jump without too much hassle and are able to continue on our way. The landscape the highway takes us through is very  grey and very boring. During the drive we reflect on life, reommend books to each other, and I learn about Niels’ potentially problematic love of expensive jewellery and designer bags.

Darkness falls as we cruise into the cobbled streets of downtown Helsinki. After some Chinese food I am dropped back at Antti’s apartment and Niels continues on into the night to find Sami, who’s at a sauna somewhere in the city. Niels finally got to spend a night in the camper. It was on the streets of Helsinki instead of the open road, but in light of everything else that happened, we’ll take that as a win.