Kevin Banahan is both a skate-boarder and a yogi. (The term “yogi” is yoga’s self-explanatory equivalent to the term “skater” in skateboarding for those unaware.)
In the fall of 2013, his desire to teach others the blissfulness of embracing isolated periods of time and simply being in the moment, which he attained through both skateboarding and yoga, came to fruition when he started SKATEYOGI.
Since then, Banahan has become a the full time teacher and he now operates out of a space called Skate Brooklyn. Moreover, what had once started as an organization for adult skateboarding classes, has undergone a youthful takeover. At the time of this writing, SKATEYOGI thrives on kids attending weekend group classes, after school programs and a six week summer camp.
Concrete Wave caught up to Kevin during Week 1 of camp to discuss what goes into a skateboard summer camp for kids.
The day starts by having a communal meeting in spirit of the way SKATEYOGI embraces the idea that skateboarding is more than just riding. Collaborative engagement shows the children how skateboarding is centered around the sense of community that comes with the ride. At the same time, it provides education for skateboarding’s newcomers on the unspoken rules of the culture. Everything from the proper etiquette of riding in an active zone down to the practice of learning to clap their boards to applaud the tricks of others provides kids the foundations needed to roll with. A lesson on the several different ways to get involved in the skateboarding community, even when they are not physically on the board is always a great start to the day.
Next, the kids pad up and hit the streets where Banahan and a handful of adult facilitators bring the campers to a local spot for a shot at the action. The idea of facilitating rather than coaching shows skateboarding to the young kids as a form of creative expression that traditional American pastimes cannot. As the young skaters learn how to ride their boards while interpreting their environment, they embrace the fact that skateboarding (much like the practice of yoga) is not about winning, losing or reaching an ultimate end goal. While the adults are there to mentor on basic riding techniques, the children are left to discover that there is no right or wrong way to embrace their creative freedoms. In fact, Banahan says the most gratifying part of watching the campers figure this out is when they manage to figure out a trick without being taught in the first place.
A cornerstone feature of the SKATEYOGI camp are the sessions on Skate Brooklyn’s brand new micro mini ramp. Here is where Banahan sees the magic of balance come into play for these young skaters. Each with a different style, the campers embrace the time on the mini ramp to find their rhythm on their own and to cheer on their fellow friends. The grand culmination for their week of camp of course comes when the dedicated shralper finally learns to drop in.
In short, he purpose of the SKATEYOGI summer camp is to build kids up, teach them to engage and support their fellow skateboarding peers and teach them to spread this positivity. It is designed to promote socialization and empathy while at the same time fostering an environment of resilient and practical creative exercise. It provides the fundamental guidance and the perfect setting for campers to learn the skills they need and practice the way they want. After all, Banahan says “once you know the rules, then you can break them.” Thus, in the same way that Banahan was able to find the similar parallels from yoga to skateboarding, campers are better able to draw their own parallels from skateboarding to other areas of their lives after a week of camp with SKATEYOGI.