This past weekend I had the pleasure of participating in Camp Rollerblade Denver.This two-day camp was part of the 13-city schedule of Camp Rollerblade Weekends in 2006.
We had a relatively small group of nine students at the Denvercamp.(Our average is more than twice that and many camps sell out at 24 students.) Participants ranged in age from 17 to 60 with an average age of 42.Three of the participants had never skated before and all were shaky on braking and other fundamental skills prior to camp.
As the owner of Zephyr Adventures, the company that runsCampRollerblade, I don’t normally get to instruct at the camps we run around the country.However, since I live inBoulderonly 10 miles from theDenvercamp location, I was lucky to be able to teach at this one.Kris Thomas, a full-time Zephyr employee in our Red Lodge,Montanaoffice, drove down to join me at this camp as my co-instructor.
The camp started at9:00 AMon Saturday and was held in a private rink in a city park with nearby benches, picnic tables, and a bathroom.We started with introductions and a discussion about skating, equipment, and safety gear.We then started out with the basics: how to stand without rolling, how to get up off the ground from a sitting position, and how to fall safely without hurting yourself.
Once in the rink, we learned Stride One (the beginner forward motion stride) and skated from one side of the rink to the other.At the beginning, as I am sure all the participants would agree, it was quite a sight!No one could stop so we just banged into the rink wall each time we came to the other side.Legs were wobbly and balance was precarious.However, we kept falls to a bare minimum (in fact, I don’t remember any on this first drill) and everyone had smiles on their faces by the time we took our first break.
The key to skating is to learn to stop and that was our next order of business.Using the heel brake is not a natural motion at all and generally requires instruction.We broke the motion down into parts and, by lunchtime, most people were stopping fairly efficiently.We ended the morning session with a game of “Red Light, Green Light” on skates.
The two days progressed in a similar manner.New drill, practice, fun game to reinforce the concept, and then a short break.Learning to skate comes in waves and periods of enlightenment, when everything we are saying seems to all of a sudden click in a student’s mind (and body).I remember Barbara, who struggled with braking until she watched her daughter Tessa demonstrate it properly.Boom – she had it down.Or Jed, who started out only wanting to stroke with one foot before all of a sudden learning to use both in his stride.
The final afternoon we headed out of the rink to a local trail to practice our skills in the real world.The trail was beautiful and the real-life conditions made it exciting!Everyone did great.We practiced going over rough terrain (including sewer grates), skating up small hills, braking down hills to control our speed, and even perfecting the grass stop (a rolling stop into the grass rather than a flailing of all limbs in a last-ditch effort).
My final memory of the trip was when Savita struggled to perfect the grass stop on a slight decline.Throwing all caution to the wind, she headed down a steeper hill, caromed into the grass, and executed a perfect grass stop.A fitting finale to the weekend.
Congratulations to our nine students and all veterans of CampRollerblade.You deserve a round of applause!If you yourself are eager to skate or know someone who is, please send them to www.CampRollerblade.com!