There are forty kids in the skate camp: 38 boys, the oldest of whom is 16 with most of them being about the 10-14 age range; and two girls. There are six camp counselors and, so far, four skate instructors. Yesterday we stayed in Steeltown, visiting the city's two outdoor skate parks. We all meet at a central arena, then a yellow school bus took us to the first park of the day.
The counselors like the skate camp because, unlike the other five weeks of the municipal camp program, they don't have to do too much; the kids amuse themselves, skating and goofing around. The instructors like the camp because, though they don't get paid, they get to skateboard at different parks all day and the kids treat them like heroes. The kids like the camp because--duh--they get to skate all day. The only hitch is everybody has to wear a safety helmet.
Yesterday, there were only two kids who didn't seem to be enjoying themselves. One of the girls didn't know quite what to make of all the skaterboy activity, and spent most of the day holding up fences and bench warming. This morning, however, I showed her how to do some rudimentary moves, and she surprised everybody by busting out a 360 on the first or second try.
The other fellow who was struggling likes to be called Spade. He is a skinny, tallish blond-haired boy with a great deal of energy and and odd sense of humour. He spent most of yesterday following me around and making up ridiculous and un-landable new tricks all of which I was required to comment on. His frustration seemed to be partly in response to his mom sending him to skate camp with a crappie K-Mart deck that was way too small for him, and which he broke in half in a fit of rage yesterday afternoon. This morning he showed up with some new hardware which I affixed to one of my old decks.
Yesterday was viciously hot, and I went through two litres of root beer, as well as countless refills of the water bottle. I skated so much that today I had no real desire to roll, so I was relieved when, half and hour after arriving at the first skate stop of the day, it started pouring rain. The whole group piled back onto the bus, but not before getting soaked in the process, and it was a humid bus ride to the shopping mall, punctuated with much grumbling from the kids about getting rained out. We roamed the mall for a while, and then crammed back into the bus, where I realized the value of having a helmet: to protect my head from the various projectiles the kids like to lob when the counsellors aren't looking. These mostly comprised of spit balls, and maybe candy wrappers, but there was a water bottle that got tossed around as well.
As the rain didn't let up all day, in the afternoon the whole group--instructors included--got to go to the movies to see the Fantastic Four. Over a French fry lunch, Spade, another kid Conner, and I formed a skate posse called The Zed Boy--a Canadian version of the now legendary Dogtown team. Spade calls me "Pro"; so I am now Pro-zz, while Spade is Spade-zz, and Conner, whose name resists suffix-ification, is just Zzd. Before lunch, Spade-zz and Zzd had a competition to see who could ingest the most packets of Taco Bell Hot sauce. It isn't clear who won the match, but by the time it was over there was a mound of empty tinfoil packets on the table, and neither of the kids had thrown up, so I was relieved.
The movie was pretty good. I was expecting to be disappointed, and was actually pleasantly surprised; they managed to translate something of the essence of the original mag to movie form without making it too hokey. Comic books seem to be the perfect content for the dream machine grist mill of Hollywood, and I feel somewhat vindicated to see the heroes of my youth blown up on the big screen for general consumption, even if it means doing a certain violence to the subtle complexities of the original format.
Tomorrow we will be going to a couple parks I have never visited before, provided it doesn't rain. After several weeks of drought, the rain has hardly stopped all day, and the earthworms are surfacing like little terrestrial scuba creatures. Hopefully it will clear up and cool off a little for tomorrow, so the kids and instructors can do some shredding.