On August 25, 2021

Darkside’s summer skateboard camp introduces kids to a new passion

By Brooke Geery

Sadie Boroff, 12, of New Canaan, Connecticut, sat on top of a ramp in the parking lot of the Darkside Snowboard shop watching as a few younger girls practiced their drop-ins. The sun baked down for the fifth day of skateboard camp, and Boroff wasn’t the only one showing signs of fatigue, but she smiled when asked if she’d had fun at camp.

By Brooke Geery
Elliot Namjung, 11, and Ryan Fu, 9, both caught the skateboard bug after a week at camp.

“This was my first time skateboarding and I really like it!” she said.

That sentiment was shared by every camper we spoke with, including Ryan Fu, 9, a co-resident of Killington and Cedar Knolls, New Jersey.

“It’s freedom,” he said. “I came in to camp as a beginner and I came out that I can go on the mini ramp and drop in!”

The parking lot of Darkside in Killington is the only public option for skateboarding in the town, so in order to offer a skate camp for the kids, the recreation departments of Rutland and Killington have leaned on the shop to run camps. The first camp, held in collaboration with Killington Rec, happened in July, and the shop also organized a traveling camp alongside Rutland Rec, too. According to Darkside General Manager Tucker Zink, the third camp of the summer, held Aug. 16-20, was the biggest yet, with 27 campers in attendance. Zink said this is a big jump from the first camps held at Darkside four years ago, when they’d only have six to eight campers.

Coach Lyndsay Hargrave, 26, lives in Burlington, where she works as a digital merchandiser for the shop. An avid skater herself, she spent all week in Killington working with a sizable group of female campers, literally holding hands to encourage them and offering up sunblock between runs.

By Brooke Geery
Coach Lyndsay Hardgrave helps a camper learn to drop in.

“I had all girls in my group,” she said. “They went from most of them not even standing on a skateboard to dropping in in five days. To me that’s the coolest thing ever!”

Another coach, Thomas Westscott, 23, of Rutland, followed campers between the mini ramp behind the shop and street course in front to offer help to anyone who needed it. As a graduate of the Flipside skateboard camps — previously held in Rutland — Westscott said skate camp is a great option for kids who want to learn the sport, and 11-year-old Elliot Namkung, a camper who recently moved from New York state to Killington, agreed.

“It’s really fun, and I think that it’s fun because the coaches are actually really good. It’s not a camp that just too ‘rule-y’, you can do whatever you want and learn whatever you want as long as it’s in the rules,” Namkung explained.

The camp was open to all ability levels for ages 7 and above. Bobby Bergen, 23, of Rutland, was in charge of the intermediate campers and said the experience is about a lot more than just learning to skate.

“I think the coolest thing for my group personally was how everyone made a friendship over skateboarding,” he said. “They came with one thing in mind — skateboarding — and really bonded over it. This group really feeds off each other so one person would learn a trick on the mini and the next one would learn it right behind ‘em. Everyone learned at least one trick, but the camaraderie is the coolest part. The friendship I made with the kids is cool, too!”

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