New Skatepark at Military Base Boosts Soliders’ Morale
Permission to shred sir? Permission granted soldier! With the help of Spohn Ranch Skateparks, the new 15,000 square foot concrete skatepark at the Fort Irwin Military Base in Southern California is being hailed as a tremendous success.
Fort Irwin, located just outside of Barstow in the remote Southern California desert, is the premiere National Training Center for all branches of the US Military. All military personnel being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan must first complete Desert Warfare training at Fort Irwin, which amounts to a large population of soldiers and family members on base looking for ways to occupy their spare time. After the idea of a new skatepark kept popping up at the family advocacy meetings, the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Department at Fort Irwin partnered with Spohn Ranch Skateparks, based in Industry, California, to build a skatepark that they could be really proud of.
The “Grind & Shred Skatepark”, as it was named by the skaters on base, replaced a much smaller existing skatepark that consisted of a few inadequate steel ramps. “Working with an experienced skatepark company like Spohn Ranch was very crucial,” said Jackie Hoggins, Marketing Chief at Fort Irwin. “They know the newest trends and how to design a skatepark that skaters young and old will love.” Spohn Ranch has worked with the US Military on skatepark projects across the globe, having completed skateparks at military installations in New Mexico, Japan, and most recently at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
The skatepark is already being met with tremendous praise because of the benefits it will provide for different groups on base. “For the 12-18 year old age group, which is very difficult to keep entertained, the skatepark will provide the perfect venue for exercising and having fun,” said Maarten Voogd of Water Ventures, the contract holder of the project. With a parental figure absent and traditional sports becoming less popular, activities like skateboarding are a great way to keep kids’ minds focused on something positive. Failing to provide this vulnerable age group with facilities for the activities they enjoy leads to them finding less productive ways to spend their time.
For single soldiers on base who often feel left out of activity planning, the skatepark will also provide a new venue for social interaction and relaxation. Most important of all is the way in which the skatepark will become a critical piece of the family support structure. Soldiers can be much more focused on their work knowing their family is safe and occupying their time with positive activities. “Although it may seem obscure to some, we are proud to do our part in supporting the troops that are fighting for our freedom around the world,” said Aaron Spohn, founder and president of Spohn Ranch Skateparks.
The skatepark’s grand opening is set for Wednesday August 26, and will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony, professional demos and a best trick contest.