How to Take Your Kids Skateboarding

This may be the most important blog post I've ever written...

Just kidding. But it so deeply identifies with what I am all about, that I think it's pretty cool. A couple years ago I made Skater Dad: the Movie, which features lots of shots of me and Ellie at the El Segundo skatepark. I was blessed to find this place -- empty most of the day, totally fenced in, overall pretty safe but also super fun to skate. I would take her pack 'n' play, and then later let her run around, while I skated. I was also lucky enough to take Waverly here too before we moved away.

More recently the park of choice has been Ackerman Skatepark in West Ashley, which has been a big part of my life since high school. The last Halloween I ever trick-or-treated, instead of wearing costumes, we brought our skateboards and asked for petitions to get a city skatepark in our hometown. "Kickflips for candy" we joked as we gathered about 75 or so names, if I remember correctly. We then attended a few meetings, thanks to the help of my friend Jason's awesome and super-involved mom, and before too long we had our modest park!

I remember the grand opening when Jud Heald and Tim Byrne came out, both of which were on Christian skate teams that I was familiar with. We had countless sessions here. I hit my face on the concrete once trying to crooked grind the top rail. Lance Mountain and Ray Barbee signed my yearbook here (two of my all-time favorites). All that to say, I'm proud of this park and am glad it is still around; and now even more glad to be able to bring my kids here!

I to take your kids to a skatepark. I really want my children to love skating, or at least love that I love skating. And so taking them to these fenced-in parks is like a playground for the both of us. They slide down the quarter pipes...I do lip tricks. Win, win. As I have been doing this for a few years now, I thought I would compile a list of things to help YOU take your kids to the local skatepark (because I know you want to):

FS 360 while Waverly enjoys a snack at Ackerman. (See step #3)
  1. Find a park: The first step is obvious. I have found that having a fenced-in park is really nice for younger kids. You don't want them crawling away while you're going for that fakie frontside flip on the pyramid. When they were really young, I would put them in a pack 'n' play, but again, in a safe area of a fenced-in park, just so strangers weren't loitering nearby (I'm kind of a paranoid parent sometimes). It is also good to head to parks during off times, because skaters don't always look where they are going, and even if they are looking, kids rarely do. But that's just a good way to teach them social awareness and taking turns, right?
  2. Bring gear: Your kids need their own little skateboards and, maybe even a scooter, at least until they are competent enough on their own two feet. My sister bought Ellie this scooter/skateboard hybrid that has moveable trucks, so your child can grow with his or her skateboard. I think it's pretty rad. Of course, helmets and pads are also necessary; although the pads don't stay on well for my kids, so we usually just stick to helmets.
  3. Bring more gear: I'm talking the typical stuff -- diapers, extra clothes, water, snacks. Snacks is the biggest one, as their attention span isn't what mine is, and when I am really close to landing that trick, snack time might just buy me a few more tries. Baby wipes are also key, as skateparks are usually kind of dusty, and these things will save you some time cleaning hands before snack time.
  4. Don't forget the camera: I love making skate videos and sharing them! Bringing my kids along for the ride only makes the videos better (because let's be honest, my skating isn't the most interesting thing on the internet). Pictures and videos of your kids' progress are fun for you, and for sharing with family. 
  5. Stay safe: Skateparks are kind of dangerous, even more so for kids. Boards are flying everywhere and people are smoking cigarettes and the such. That is why it is so important to find parks that are mostly empty, although don't shy away from skating with other guys that seem competent and friendly towards the little ones. It brings your kids into a world where they learn to take turns, look out for other people, and be respectful. 
I hope that helps give you a little more confidence in doing something out of the ordinary with your kids. If skateboarding isn't your thing, these same principles (with minor adjustments) can apply to whatever your interest is: kid's day at the rock climbing gym, the beach, concerts (replace helmets with ear muffs) and even snowboarding. So get out there and do what you love, with the people you love most!