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Facility Profile - March 2002

Skate Park to Go

Timber-Lee Christian Center
East Troy, Wis.

By Jenny E. Beeh


PHOTOS COURTESY OF TIMBER-LEE CHRISTIAN CENTER

What happens when a skate park is near the top of your Wish List, but you just don't have room for one?

This was the case for the Timber-Lee Christian Center, a year-round youth camp in East Troy, Wis., which serves about 4,000 campers in the summer, 18,000 Outdoor Ed students during the school year and about 3,500 junior- and senior-high church youth group members on winter weekends. The very busy camp sits on 600 wooded acres and includes a 60-acre lake with a developed waterfront and 66 buildings on the property.

"We have very limited blacktop area," says recreation coordinator Chris Hawn, referring to the camp's single basketball court, about 50 by 85 feet. "We had to find something portable."

PHOTOS COURTESY OF TIMBER-LEE CHRISTIAN CENTER

Luckily, as the camp found out, skate parks come in the convertible variety. Think time-share.

Way back in fall 2000, when the camp first became interested in adding a skate park, Hawn's boss asked him to start researching the possibilities for a home for skateboarders and inline skaters.

"Personally, I thought he was nuts," Hawn laughs. "I thought we could use the money toward other things we needed more."

Plus, not only can a skate park be expensive, it can hog a lot of space. So Hawn started doing his homework and found SunRamp Solutions, Inc. in Duluth, Minn., via the Internet. Interestingly, SunRamps were designed in partnership with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute.

"It was perfect for what we were looking for," Hawn says. SunRamp's portability was vital. "That's a big plus because it allowed us to keep our basketball court and add a skate park."

The affordable price tag also worked for the camp as well as its ease-of-use, sturdiness and durability. Most of the equipment takes about two to three adults to move—or about six junior-high kids working together.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF TIMBER-LEE CHRISTIAN CENTER

Besides the portability and convenience, an added bonus is the versatility it provides. With all moveable, weatherproof elements, the kids can set up a different course every time. Timber-Lee's skate park elements include two SunRamp quarter pipes, a square rail, a round rail, four other rams and a homemade grind box.

"Skating is extra hot right now," Hawn says. "It's booming. We needed a way to get that group of kids out here. Skaters are a whole other breed, they're not traditional campers."

But they have proved to be good campers. In fact, after adding the skate park last spring, the camp started a new week-long specialty camp for both boys and girls called Ultimate Sports Camp, which focuses on individual sports, like skating, mountain biking, archery and water-skiing, that accentuate self-achievement. Of course, Timber-Lee's other campers can also sign up for some supervised skate time.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF TIMBER-LEE CHRISTIAN CENTER

When it comes to skating skill levels, campers run the gamut, so they receive both instructional and free time. The emphasis of skating is very different compared to other competitive team sports the camp offers like soccer or baseball.

"It's 'Can I do this trick?' not 'I'm going to beat you,'" Hawn says of the skate park's atmosphere. "I would recommend it to camps that they get into this. It's really opened our doors to a whole other dynamic of kids."

For more information
SunRamp Solutions, Inc.: 877-978-6726
or www.sunramps.com