Ask the Experts: The Ins & Outs of Skimboarding
Summer calls to mind lazy afternoons on the beach and copious doses of golden sun. If you’re a kid, it may also mean time for skimboarding classes! Skimboarding is a super fun activity that invites beachgoers to meet waves at the shore and glide across them like magic. Besides offering exciting recreation, kids’ skimboarding camps teach balance and coordination against the backdrop of crystal-blue skies.
Read on to hear what Felecia Stratton of Jersey Shore Skim Camp has to say about this exhilarating outdoor activity. You’ll be signing your little one up for skimboarding class just in time for the first perfect beach day!
Now that summer’s here, we spoke with Felecia Stratton about skimboarding from Jersey Shore Skim Camp, to give us a few pointers on starting this exciting sport.
What is skimboarding? How does it differ from surfing?
Felecia: Skimboarding is a water boardsport. A simple way to describe it is “run, drop, slide.” Skimboarders run to gain speed, drop the board, and slide across the water’s surface to meet an incoming breaking wave and ride it back to shore.
Skimboarding differs from surfing in many ways. First, skimboards are smaller than surfboards, and do not have fins. And while surfing requires going out into the water and waiting for a wave, skimboarding begins on the beach. Many parents are more comfortable with skim than surfing because of this.
Skimboarding is an excellent way for younger children to get the feel of a board without having to be out in deep water. Once they are comfortable on a board, many skimboarders find it easier to learn to surf. The skill also translates to skateboarding and snowboarding.
Is skimboarding purely recreational or is there a competitive side?
Felecia: Skimboarding is recreational, but contests are also a mainstay of the sport. Skim USA is the national association governing skimboarding competitions, and many skimboarders enjoy traveling across the country to compete in Skim USA Pro/Am tours. Locally, Sea Bright is the June stop on the Skim USA tour. This year, the Sea Bright SkimBash takes place June 24-25.
What equipment is required to get started? For the frugal parent, what’s a good way to save on skimboarding equipment?
Felecia: The only equipment required is a skimboard and a beach! Skimping on quality when purchasing a skimboard is not a good idea. Small wooden boards splinter, break, and are overall dangerous to use. Fiberglass boards are the way to go. They are more expensive than wood, but they last for many years. Frugal parents can search Craigslist or eBay for used boards. There are local places that sell used boards, like we do, which is a nice alternative to buying online because the skimboarder can actually see and try the board before purchasing.
How do you select the right sized skim board for your child?
Felecia: Skimboard sizes are based on the child’s height and weight, and ability. We recommend that parents let a professional help choose the right board, to ensure the child’s success, and maximize the purchase. Many places offer this service free of charge.
What’s the minimum age? What about swim skills, do you assess for a certain level of proficiency in swimming?
Felecia: While some children can skimboard as young as 5, we find 7 to be the ideal age to start. But every child is different, so at camp we will access younger children to see if they can participate. While proficient swimming is not a requirement because campers do not go deep into the ocean, we do want children to be able to swim, be comfortable in the water, and not be afraid of the ocean or waves. Skimboarding is a sport that children can enjoy for many years; in fact all our instructors at Jersey Shore Skim Camp are in their 20’s or older and continue to skimboard and compete in Skim USA contests.
What skills does skimboarding teach? Which of these skill are transferable to other sports to activities?
Felecia: Skimboarders learn balance and coordination, as well as safety. They also learn how to care for their skimboard. Another big part of skimboarding is learning etiquette when sharing the beach with other skimboarders and beach-goers. A respect for the environment–particularly the ocean–is another crucial element.
What types of kids benefit most from skimboarding?
Felecia: Every child can benefit from learning how to skimboard. However, those who do not enjoy competitive sports are especially drawn to skimboarding because they are competing only against themselves, and improving their own skills.
At Jersey Shore Skim Camp, we teach children at their own pace, with patience, so those who may struggle at other sports will have success learning how to skimboard. And because skimboarders are a warm and welcoming group, many children who are bullied or have few friends find a place for themselves in the skimboarding community.
How has skimboarding grown over the past 10 years?
Felecia: Skimboarding’s popularity continues to grow, especially as athletes such as Brad Domke continue to push the limits and receive increasing media attention. We have seen that growth mirrored as our registrations grow year after year.
Are there any collegiate skimboarding teams?
Felecia: Many colleges do have their own teams, based on proximity to a beach of course.
Why is it important to get professional training before stepping on a skimboard?
Felecia: Without proper technique and training, skimboarding can be dangerous. A child with no knowledge of how to hold or control a board can get hurt. We urge parents to either book a private lesson–or a few days or weeks–at Jersey Shore Skim Camp so their children learn how to enjoy the sport safely.