Skateparks on military bases are nothing new. Because they serve a transitory population, on-base skateparks provide an important role for military family youth. The skatepark is a place for skaters to easily find each other and recreate together.
There is some resistance to skateparks on base in that they are sometimes perceived as an “attractive nuisance” that can put military and civilian staff at risk of injury. In truth, the skatepark introduces no more risk than other recreational attractions in the area. Without having a skatepark available, skaters on base will find other places to recreate. The risk inherent in skateboarding is still present, but without a skatepark those skaters are at greater risk of skating in inappropriate areas or colliding with motor vehicles. In other words, the skatepark reduces existing risk.
In most cases, skateparks are a function of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) division of the respective military service. MWR’s purpose is to provide services that reduce stress, build skills and self-confidence, and foster strong esprit de corps. One can easily see that skateparks fully fit within the realm of MWR’s purpose.
Advocating for skateparks on military bases is identical to the civilian approach except that less time and energy needs to be spent gaining community support. Instead, focus on the proposal’s return-on-investment.
Here are just a few of the military bases that have skateparks on them:
Fort Irwin (California)
Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base (California)
Hickam Air Force Base (Hawaii)
Hill Air Force Base (Utah)
Joint Base Lewis-McChord (Washington)