Just because they aren’t world-renowned skateboarders doesn’t mean they can’t skate with one.
About 50 kids from 10 Police Athletic League branches around the city met at Carmella Playground, 2100 Wakeling St., on Friday, Aug. 24 to skate for a chance to spend three days with professional skateboarder Chris Cole.
Cole, in collaboration with Pennsylvania action sports facility Camp Woodward, worked with 30 PAL kids last year at the camp in a weeklong, all-expense paid dream skating experience.
This year he’ll do the same with 15 PAL kids over three days from Sept. 21-23. Cole, who is originally from Philadelphia, calls the experience “Chris Cole’s Excellent Adventure.”
To win a spot on the trip, PAL kids worked on various skate drills and demonstrated their techniques that Friday. PAL and Camp Woodward representative were on hand to assess.
One participant was Jeraldo Aponte, 13, of Bridesburg, who said he’s been skateboarding since December.
“I wasn’t feeling confident [at first] about doing tricks. I was watching the other guys doing better tricks than me,” he said. “But then I was jumping in, trying new things.”
He said those who win a chance to go to the camp aren’t necessarily the best skaters, but are the most confident, helpful and enthusiastic.
Aponte said the other PAL kids participating that day led him to believe the camp experience would be a chance to bond with other skaters.
“Everyone’s really nice, really helping each other out,” he said. “Even the little guys, we help them out.”
There were skaters as young as 7 or 8 participating that day.
Aponte said he learned a few new tricks at the playground that afternoon, and knows he’d learn even more at camp.
“I think if I go, it’ll be good practice,” he said. “I’ll be a better skater.”
Police officer Frank Rivera of the Harrowgate PAL said in order to win a shot at the camp, PAL kids could write a short essay explaining their interest. He agreed with Aponte on how skaters should be chosen for the experience.
“I think they should pick them for not being shy, [displaying] teamwork, getting along and having a positive attitude,” he said. “We want to send our best kids to represent PAL.”
He said PAL would contact the winners in the days following the Carmella Playground event.
Dave Metty, a facilitator of “Chris Cole’s Excellent Adventure” at Camp Woodward, said that with five indoor and seven outdoor skate parks across 400 acres, Camp Woodward is the largest action sports training facility in the world. At the camp, participants in Chris Cole’s program will sleep in cabins and enjoy free meals and other amenities like go-karts and swimming pools.
“We’re not out here to find great skateboarders, we’re out here to find people that really love skateboarding,” he said.
Metty explained that while growing up in Philly, Cole couldn’t afford to attend Camp Woodward. Once he went pro, he began to finally work with the camp.
“It was his dream, and it came true,” Metty said. “He told the camp, ‘I can share this with the people from where I’m from, who are in the same boat I was in.’”
Metty said sharing the skateboarding experience with Philadelphia kids is very important to Cole.
“He’s got everything going for him right now, and he still does this,” he said. “He was one of these kids at one point.”
To learn more about Camp Woodward visit www.campwoodward.com.
Star Managing Editor Mikala Jamison can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.