By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
MUKILTEO — Skateboard parks, with their bowls, ramps and half-pipes, are often thought of as a boy’s domain.
Kristin Ebeling, who at age 25 has spent more than half her life skateboarding, wants girls to have the same opportunity to pursue the sport. For the past three summers, she’s led an all-girls skateboard camp at the Mukilteo YMCA.
This year, 23 girls, some as young as age 4, pulled on helmets, elbow and knee pads to participate in the weeklong camp for young girls and teens.
Jennifer Cail, of Lynnwood, said her daughter was eagerly awaiting turning 4 so she could participate. “She’s been asking to come to skate camp for a year,” her mom said. “Her center of gravity is so low, she never falls.”
Bodhi Stipe, 5, of Snohomish, was a little skittish about attending camp because she had seen her brother fall and break his wrist while skateboarding, said her mother, Monkia Stipe.
“She’s gained a lot of confidence,” Monkia Stipe said. It’s a feeling she hopes will carry over as her daughter begins school this year. “There’s some anxiety of going to kindergarten,” she said.
Mia Papadakis, 10, of Seattle, was attending the camp for the second time. She said she liked being able to attend an all-girls camp. “Most of the time, boys do the sports,” she said.
Sydny Brouhard, 8, of Mukilteo, said that having an all-girls camp “helps me focus better.”
The camp is a collaborative project of Seattle’s Skate Like A Girl, where Ebeling now serves as its director, and the Mukilteo YMCA, where she helped establish an indoor skate park that opened last year.
Ebeling, who has participated in international competitions, said she’s heard young girls dismiss their chances of participating in the sport by saying, “ Oh, that’s so scary. I could never do that.”
At the end of each daily session, campers show off their newly learned skills to applause, cheers and high-fives from fellow campers, proof that they can do it.
“There’s a certain magic in an all-girls week,” Ebeling said. “I see them having more fun, making friends that I don’t necessarily see in a co-ed experience.”
Girls and boys learn differently, she said. In an all-girls environment, they feel they really can try new things.
Jessica Mentz of Mukilteo said she thought the camp helps build the girls’ confidence. Her daughter, Elizabeth Remily, 6, said it was an opportunity to “meet some cool people.”
“When I was waiting for (the camp) I really wanted to do skating,” she said.
Olivia Campanario, 9, of Mill Creek, said she was a little surprised by the all-girl camp. “Usually boys are the really good ones,” she said. “When I learned girls can also skate, I was really interested.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org