By Sahar Chmais
As the kids went up and down the ramp, they kept falling and picking themselves up, sometimes after letting out a small giggle; that was the nature of the game. And it was not just the kids who were okay with the falls, but the adults were grateful for it, too.
That is what emulates skateboarding, according to the world renowned skateboarder Kenny Reed. Usually in the summer, Reed is off in the Middle East teaching kids how to skateboard and helping them build ramps. This year, Reed was in Dripping Springs, teaching children ages 7 to 13, to embrace the lessons of the fall.
“Some of the kids have never stepped on a skateboard before Monday morning,” Reed said. “To see them from the very hesitant first steps to not even wanting help sometimes and having confidence in being able to fall down and get back up and not be worried if anyone else is watching or not, because it happens to everybody – they’re seeing that.”
In the two camps Reed hosted, he had two groups with a total of about 35 trainees. Each camp was five days long, but even throughout that short period, Reed saw immense progress in the childrens’ confidence and got to know the groups very well.
This is the spirit that Dennis Baldwin, a Dripping Springs resident, wants to see growing in the city. Baldwin has been advocating and fundraising money for a Dripping Springs Skate Park for years. In 2017, after three years of Baldwin gathering community support, Dripping Springs City Council approved a skatepark proposal. The city donated 1.5 acres of land at the Founders Memorial Park for the skatepark and it was up to the skaters to find funding for construction.
When Hays County passed the $75 million parks bond in 2020, the skatepark was tenth in the priority line. Baldwin said he hopes the county chooses to fund the park so children across Hays County can have a place to practice their sport.
“A lot of the kids skate in certain spots in Dripping Springs, but skating in public street spots is sometimes frowned upon,” Baldwin said. “Our whole goal is, and we will never be able to stop [public skating], but our goal is to get the park built so skaters have a place to recreate, come hang out and be together.”
Although Baldwin has already headed a large effort to give skaters a safe space to convene through the weekly skate nights, he believes there is more to be done. Beside the park, Baldwin wants to see more girls involved in the sport.
It can be intimidating for some girls to join into a crowd of sweaty shirtless boys, Baldwin said, but the park can give way to more programs. Skate Like a Girl is one program that Baldwin wants to be picked up in the skatepark.
“I’ve seen the things that skateboarding has given me in my life in terms of giving me confidence and resilience,” Baldwin said. “That’s something that I think all girls can benefit from.”
Skateboarding has become of bigger interest to girls, according to Baldwin. During the skate camp, there were two girls involved out of the 15 participants in that group. And on social media, more pages dedicated to girl skaters have been popping up.
To open this outlet for skaters across the county, Baldwin said the cost could be nearly $700,000, but the price could be lower, as this is only an estimate. The original projections were between $500,000 to $600,000, but due to price increases after the COVID-19 pandemic, the original cost increased.
The team is working with the builders and designers to figure out the final cost of the 10,000 to 12,000 square foot park.
The Dripping Springs Skate Park Committee plans to meet with the city council in the upcoming weeks to provide an update and discuss the next steps.