Spock’s Skate Camps Put A Backside Spin On Skateboarding Fundamentals
Jun 29, 2016 09:17AM
By Sarah Almond
Skaters await their turn to attempt a carve during day one of camp. Though a few participants have some skateboarding experience, many have never set foot on a skateboard. Spock’s Skate Camp includes clinics for both beginner and intermediate skaters. —Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Over a decade ago, Eric Uquillas encouraged several kids from around the Cottonwood Heights area to participate in a three-day summer skateboarding camp. Today, the tradition not only continues in the Cottonwood Heights community, but it’s also flourished with summer camps being held in communities across the Wasatch Front.
“There are a lot of kids across the Wasatch Front and this program has really developed by word-of-mouth,” Uquillas said. “The numbers have really grown. We generally teach about 250 to 300 kids each summer.”
Uquillas, who is better known in the skate community as “Spock”, founded Spock’s Skate Camp in 2003 after being approached from a member of the local YMCA.
“I was working as the Assistant Director of skiing and snowboarding programs at Brighton Ski Resort when this guy asked me if I’d be interested in teaching kids how to skate in the summer,” Uquillas said. “I’ve always loved skating so I was stoked about the idea.”
Along with nearly a dozen other skateboarding coaches, Uquillas teaches children ages six to 14 the fundamentals of skateboarding. Though the Camp’s participation numbers have neared 350 in recent years, Uquillas isn’t surprised by the noticeable rise in the sport’s popularity.
“Skateboarding is a passion; it’s a lifestyle,” Uquillas said. “It’s an individualistic activity that doesn’t require you to rely on other team members to be successful. You’re in the moment; you’re in flow.”
Uquillas explains that one of the skateboarding’s greatest draws is its ability to instill children with self-confidence.
“These kids really push themselves,” Uquillas said. “And it really grows their self-esteem when they are able to accomplish a trick or something on their own. With all of the skateparks across the Wasatch Front, there are tons of opportunities for kids to skate.”
Participants of Spock’s Skate Camps enjoy the challenge of skateboarding and seem to welcome advice and instruction from Uquillas and his fellow coaches.
“I love Spock because he isn’t super commanding,” said 11-year-old Xander Hislop. “He’s nice about your mistakes and helps you learn from them and get better.”
Hislop, who has attended several Spock’s Skate Camps across the valley, says that for him, skating isn’t just an outlet - it’s also an activity that he plans to continue as he grows.
“Skating is a cool hobby,” Hislop said. “It’s something that I think I’ll want to keep doing when I’m older and I’d like to have it as a hobby for the rest of my life.”
Along with teaching the fundamentals of skateboarding, Uquillas is passionate encouraging Camp participants to respect not just their local skate park, but also their community as a whole.
“When I grew up we had to drive a long way; pay money, and buy memberships to skate,” Uquillas said. “The availability of skate parks here is almost taken a little bit for granted in some respects. Some of the parks get really littered up, with trash piled up right next to the garbage can.”
Uquillas starts off every camp by identifying what respect means.
“I ask the kids ‘whose park is this?’ and ‘who can tell me what respect means?’” Uquillas said. “I question them on their ability to respect their park, themselves, and their friends. We even talk about respecting ideas that they understand, and respecting ideas that they don’t understand.”
By initiating each camp with etiquette and rules of safety, Uquillas feels like the kids are able to begin their skating careers from a point of dignity and understanding.
“There is a whole plan that they don’t even really see because it’s blended in like vegetables in their dinner,” Uquillas said. “They are getting good stuff and they don’t even know it. We are helping them set a goal; a plan; a measurement of success for what they are doing. These ideals are a big part of our progression-based skate camps.”
As a skateboarding coach for nearly 14 years, Uquillas feels that despite the evolution and growth of his skate camps, his role and the role of his fellow coaches remains unchanged.
“We’re here to nurture the passion that these kids have for skating,” he said. “If they go into their 20’s and are still skateboarding and still loving skateboarding, then I have done my job.”
Spock’s Skate Camp runs through October, with session at the Richard L. Guthrie Skate Park in Cottonwood Heights held every Saturday from 9 am to 11 am. To find out more information about Camps across the Wasatch Front or to sign up for a summer session, visit www.spocksskatecamp.com or stop by the Holladay Lions Recreation Center at 1661 Murray Holladay Road.