The C.O.R.A. Skate Patrol Program

Nearly every city has a park where you can find skaters. In San Francisco, Golden Gate Park will see between 5,000 to 10,000 skaters on Sundays, when the streets are closed to automobile traffic. When you take into account the cyclists, joggers, pedestrians, tourists and others who share the same space as the skaters, it can get very congested. Before you know it, you’re looking at a dangerous situation and a possible skate ban. The formation of a “skate patrol” has proven to be a very effective way to create a positive image for skating. The Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is a great example of how a group of skaters can get together and get organized. The following information will show just what is a skate patrol how to get organized and create a skate patrol in a particular area.

The summer of 1979 saw outdoor rollerskating skyrocket. By the end of the summer there were estimates of 15,000 to 20,000 skaters using Golden Gate Park on Sundays when the park was closed to all automobile traffic. There was over thirty (30) skate vendor trucks that rented skates alongside the park border, each truck containing between 200 and 500 pairs of skates. Skaters were everywhere. Soon there were complaints. People who lived in the neighborhood complained of skaters doing everything from parking in their driveways to urinating on their premises. The numbers of injuries became a serious strain on the San Francisco Ambulance Service. The question of what to do about the skaters was soon before the Recreation and Parks Commission. The media called it “The Great Skate Debate”. The sentiment to ban skating in Golden Gate Park was very strong. After months of public discussion and meetings, the Recreation and Parks Department designated four (4) areas in the park where skating would be prohibited. The Conservatory of Flowers, the Music Concourse, Stow Lake and Children’s Playground are known worldwide and are very busy with pedestrian traffic every day. If skaters could not be kept out of these areas, the Recreation and Parks Commission would recommend a total skate ban in the park. Peter Ashe, Assistant Recreation and Parks Superintendent presented the idea of forming a “skate patrol” that would keep skaters out of the restricted areas. Each skate vendor truck provided two (2) skaters to volunteer for “roller patrol” duty. A total of sixty (60) skaters were gathered and made up the first skate patrol. Eventually, the city passed an ordinance banning all “recreational equipment vendors” (skate trucks) from operating in San Francisco, but the skaters on the original roller patrol stayed together and became the “Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol”.

The Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol operates in the park from 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (to 6:00 P.M. during Daylight Savings Time.) every Sunday. We help people in the park who may be lost, hurt or need assistance of any kind. All members are trained in First Aid and C.P.R. We conduct a free skate safe clinic every Sunday morning from 11:00 A.M. to noon.

C.O.R.A. stands for the California Outdoor Rollerskating Association. This is an organization that promotes the sport of outdoor rollerskating in California. C.O.R.A. keeps and maintains an accurate ranking of California skaters. C.O.R.A. also keep and recognizes records in speedskating distances of 100 meters, 300 meters and 500 meters sprint races along with 5 kilometer 10 kilometers and point to point races of various distances. C.O.R.A. also recognizes records in High Jump, Long Jump, Downhill Slalom and Freestyle Dance competition. C.O.R.A. is a resource for California skaters. We create a positive image for the sport. We work with local communities and other organizations to create skating programs and other opportunities for people to participate in outdoor rollerskating. C.O.R.A also presents the “Skate Against Violence Experience”. This began with a 450 mile S.F. to L.A. skate-a-thon on May 17-19 1995. We are now collecting used skates to be repaired and given to underprivileged children during the Christmas holidays.

Exploring is not the Explorer Scouts. There is no camping or knot tying. Exploring was specifically designed to accommodate the city dweller. It is aimed at the urban youth and designed to provide urban activities that effect youth in a positive way. The Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol is also an Explorer Post for the Boy Scouts of America. This allows our group to operate as a skate program that fosters a positive attitude for our young members. As Explorer Post #582, we have created circumstances that has prove d to be ideal in providing positive role models for youth through skating. The Skate Patrol members 14 through 20 years old make up what we call “Patrol Explorers”. They work directly with the adult patrol members and get training in first aid and C.P.R. They patrol the park with the adult patrol members. They participate in skate clinics where they learn intricate skate maneuvers and speedskating technique. As an Explorer Post, the Boy Scouts of America provides our group with both liability and accident insurance that covers all paid members. This situation also allows our group to obtain permits to present organized skate competitions, skate camps, long distance marathons and roller hockey.

The Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol is made up of a Coordinator, three (3) Team Captains, and adult and youth members. The Coordinator is the spokesman for the group. He/She organizes, conducts meetings and takes care of the day to day operation of the skate patrol. The Coordinator communicates with the official governing body. (Rec and Parks Dept., city, county, etc.) The 1st Team Captain serves as Scouting Coordinator for the Explorer Post. He/She makes sure that the patrol operates within the guidelines presented by Boy Scouts Of America. The 2nd Team Captain serves as first aid officer. He/She makes sure all members receive proper training and first-aid gear. The 3rd Team Captain serves as equipment manager. He/She makes sure all skate patrol personnel have the proper uniform.

In order to join the Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol one must first attend the Sunday 12:00 noon meeting. You must be sponsored by an active skate patrol member. After a verbal vote the applicant must go through a six (6) week probation period. During this period the applicant must get training in C.P.R. and life saving first aid techniques. If the applicant fails to get the proper training, or fails to show up every Sunday during his probation period, he/she will also fail to be accepted as a member of the Skate Patrol. Exceptions are made however, to accommodate job and school problems within reason, but the applicant must show a sense of responsibility and dedication during the probation period. After the probation period is over, the applicant will receive his/her uniform and becomes a full member of the Skate Patrol.

To form a skate Patrol in a particular area these elements must be present: 1. There must be an area where skaters congregate. It could be at the beach or in the city park. If there is no particular area where skating exist, you may want to begin by circulating a petition in your city to close a street in the park to automobile traffic. 2. You must have a core group of at least 10 dedicated skaters (5 youth and 5 adults). It is best if these skaters are interested in speedskating as being on the skate patrol means doing quite a bit of skating. 3. You must have a business, skate shop, church or similar entity to act as Chartered Organization Partner to meet Exploring requirements. The Golden Gate Park Skate Patrol has the California Outdoor Rollerskationg Association signed on as the Chartered Organization Partner. This means that the C.O.R.A. will provide a place for the Post to meet and provide a person to act as a liaison between the C.O.R.A. and the Boy Scouts of America. Nearly every city has a Boy Scout Area Council. Dial 411. Ask the operator for the number for the Boy Scouts of America. Call the number. Ask to speak to someone in Exploring. That person will help you meet all Scouting criteria in forming your Explorer Post. Be prepared to explain your plans in detail. Once you have the core group of volunteer skaters and the place needed to patrol, you then must contact the governmental agency that governs your particular area. If your patrol area will be the park, contact your Recreation and Parks representative. Be prepared to explain your plans in detail.

You may be called a “Skate” Patrol, but you will find that everyone will look to you for help. It may be a lost child, a bike accident, even criminal activity. You will be the people on the seen first. You will know where the telephones are, the names of the areas where the ambulance must come and the seriousness of the injuries. You will have the official injury counts. Your local media will be looking at your impact be it positive or negative. If money is your motivation, then don’t quit your day job. If you want to get involved and do something to positive for your community, skating and young people, this may be the answer.