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Crista built it, and kids are coming

In 1998, a group of kids who were attending Crista Ministrie’s Island Lake Camp caught the director’s eye.

They had crafted makeshift ramps of milk crates, rocks and scrap wood, and were doing tricks with skateboards they brought to camp.

“I asked one of (the skaters) what he thought of us building a skate park, and his answer stuck in my head. He said, ‘If you build a skate park I’ll come for the rest of my life and bring all my friends,’” said Paul Hill, also the executive director of Crista Camps and Conferences.

That, and a USA Today article about the exploding popularity of skate-related sports, planted the seeds for Hill’s plan to build a park — a dream that came true last week when the new Crista Shores skate park was unveiled.

The curved wooden ramps glimmer in the sun, awaiting the kids who will use them as part of the camp’s skate and bike weekends or on weekdays from 2:30 to 4:45 p.m. A $4 use fee covers kids’ insurance.

“We chose wood to go with primarily because that’s what the riders prefer. It’s a smoother riding surface than concrete — it’s a lot better performance,” Hill said.

In addition, wood was cheaper than using concrete — the final cost was $125,000, Hill said.

The wood surface is protected by a waterproof sealant, but Hill said it will be covered during rainy months.

The 12,000-square-foot park might draw kids to camp who wouldn’t have been interested in horseback riding, a rope obstacle course or the other activities Crista offers.

“I think there’s a common stereotype that (skaters) are delinquent, rough kids, but they aren’t. They’re good kids,” said Alicia Crane, Island Lake marketing assistant.

Land for the park was cleared last spring, according to Crane, but construction was delayed by permitting hang-ups.

“It turns out there is no code which covers the construction of skate parks — it falls under the regular building codes for rural residential,” Hill said.

When construction got under way, it took about nine weeks to complete, Crane said.

The park can handle about 50 skaters, with more space on the decks for spectators.

Hill said Crista has a motive for bringing the kids to the camp to hang out.

“I think it’s one of the best tools for reaching out to kids and sharing Jesus Christ with them,” he said.

The new park is different from Rotary Gateway Park on Silverdale Way — at Island Lake kids are required to wear helmets and pads, the park is supervised at all times and kids must pay to use the facility.

Island Lake is a non-profit division of Seattle-based Crista Ministries. The ministry owns King’s West School in Chico, adoption agencies and radio stations, among other things.

Riding tough

Crista will host two skate and bike weekends, where kids can learn to ride skateboards at the new park or ride motorcycles in a course. The cost is $145 per person, and kids stay overnight. Skateboards and other equipment are provided. The events are scheduled for:

l Oct. 12-14, open to grades 3-6.

l Oct. 26-28, open to grades 7-12.

The skate park also is open to the public after school, from 2:30-5:45 p.m., for $4. The park is located at 125000 Camp Court.

For more information, call 697-1212, or visit www.cristacamps.com.

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