Whether your perception of skateboarding revolves around adherence to a die-hard subculture, vaguely dangerous rebellion or, I don't know, that heartbreakingly adorable idea of the skater boy, it's probably an incomplete notion of the sport.
With the number of kids skateboarding in the U.S. eclipsing the 12 million mark, skateboarding is poised to overshadow its venerable and squeaky clean counterpart, baseball, presenting the theory that America may just be looking for other pastimes. And just like any kid can pick up a stick and hit a ball, it's the street-focused, organic element of skateboarding that has evolved in public opinion from a misbehavior to a community-oriented activity uplifting the neighborhood as much as, say, the outlook of the kids scraping along the pavement towards half-pipe glory.
The sport boasts a fully above-ground following of about 20 million riders worldwide, and 2012 marks its potential entree into the global mainstream arena in London's Summer Olympic Games. According to the International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC), retail sales in the last five years have grown from more than $5 billion, and skate parks have become ubiquitous alternatives to the NO SKATEBOARDING signs at the playgrounds of childhood in the '70s and '80s.
Kids are settling for the suburban shopping mall at the horror of their disapproving parents no longer. Believe it or not, one of the world's largest outdoor concrete skate parks, the Black Pearl, is nestled in a paradise-like setting on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. The 52,000-square-foot, multi-level wonderland is set to catch the trickle-down of industry events to undoubtedly follow an Olympic showing, giving skate kings and queens the same fun in the sun opportunities that have traditionally been reserved for, say, the All-Star Game.
The summer camp at Black Pearl, Skate Cayman, will kick off in June under the awesomely wise eye of snowboarding Olympic gold medalist, Shaun White. So with a skate-heavy twist on the family vacation, kids can participate in the camp as part of the destination's 2009 Summer Splash promotion, as unexpected as that may sound. Forget the old station wagon tours of American ballparks - albeit in tricked-out, DVD-rigged super station wagons - this is the family vacation of the future. Kids these days, and mind you, not just the rich kids, because the promo essentially lets kids fly, stay and hang out free, live in a world where skateboarding is no longer shunned to milk crates in back alleys, but rather celebrated among white sand and sunshine, with not a nerdy trapeze lesson in sight.
For more information on Skate Cayman and the Cayman Islands Summer Splash, visit http://www.skatecayman.com.