Camp Skateboarding is a collective that runs events and workshops for the local LGBTQIA+ community in Sydney. It’s centred around using skateboarding to create a healthy and positive space to support community building, personal growth and wellbeing through skateboarding.
Where did the idea for Camp Skateboarding come from?
Camp Skateboarding originated from my time living in New York. I had just moved there and needed a way to get around. I’ve always wanted to skate, but growing up in Brisbane, where skateboarding in the 90s and 2000s was dominated and gatekept by aggressive masc cishet white men, I had some pretty shitty experiences when I was younger that always made me too uncomfortable to ever enter that world. So when I saw Unity’s Queer Skate meetup, I was incredibly excited.
That single meetup was a huge catalyst for change in my life. It helped me connect to my body, the city and my friends in ways I’ve never experienced before and was just so powerful in creating healthy connections and community. This all felt super radical to me, as a trans person skateboarding with a group of other queer trans folks always just led to serendipitous magical moments that I have rarely experienced outside of skateboarding. There’s nothing quite like shredding through the city with a giant group of queer skaters and weaving around 9-5 suits.
Skateboarding also bought in an element of freedom and autonomy. It became something I could use to meditate, have fun, destress and access so easily at anytime.
I was devastated to leave New York and that community, which led me to be determined to create something similar in Sydney. Especially as most of the queer spaces I accessed in Sydney are always centred around partying. I wanted to create a queer space focused purely on cultivating a healthy, welcoming space centred around community.
What has Camp Skateboarding achieved so far?
Camp has held several skateboarding events, each one reaching a slightly different demographic and slowly building community. Camp itself has grown from just a solo project to a collaborative co-run project between Ubee, Tov and I. This has been a really exciting evolution as it has meant that we’ve been able to open up to way more opportunities, and reach a broader community.
It has been a significant experience to see and be a part of the bonds created at the Camp events and to watch them expanded into real community and tight-knit friendship groups. It’s pretty much a testament to what I wanted to create and do.
What have the events been like?
The events have been a little different as Camp has evolved and we are incredibly intentional with each event. Intersectionality is a huge priority for us, so with each event we have been quite intentional about who we want to reach, which demographics might need this space the most. So they have varied in location, theme, or demographic. For example, we’ve held our queer skateboarding events in Western Sydney, as well as POC only events.
We’re quite conscious of how the majority of people coming are usually a little nervous, many of which are beginners, so we try to create a space that is welcoming and not just centred around skateboarding. In past events, this has meant setting the event in an accessible location which catered to skaters of all levels, as well as having activities running along side like picnics, painting. That way folks have the freedom and space to do what they want.
Although the locations and participants have been different every time, from carpark rooftops, to skateparks, to netball courts, what usually happens is that we have different groups of people teaching each other skills. Events have also included giveaways and raffles, mingling, and spontaneous activities that might or might not be skateboarding related such as basketball on skates, massive collaborative chalk murals and dirt skating.
What can people expect if they come along to a future event?
People can expect a warm, welcoming space, skate skill sharing, giveaways of skate gear, zines, stickers and more, new skate friends and connections and honestly just a lot of fun!
What is next for Camp Skateboarding?
We have so many different plans. Besides continuing these casual skate sessions, we hope to also collaborate with local organisations and work with different groups such as youth, as well as expanding meetups to creative workshops and excursions. We’re also developing zines, resources, merch and stickers to giveaway and sell, so hold tight!
Keep up to date with future Camp Skateboarding events by following their instagram: @campskateboarding
Questions answered by Camp Skateboarding's founder, Sydney based artist and skateboarder Leo Tsao.
See more from Leo by visiting his website! www.leotsao.com/
Questions asked by Dani Southcombe