When a kid fails 100 times at trying to do something before they get it, Zachary Hypes calls that “failing to success.”
“Skateboarding teaches you to accept and love the process of failing over and over but to keep going and eventually succeed,” Zachary said. He is the founder and director of Road Dog Skate Camp in Central Kentucky.
“The satisfaction is so deep,” he said. “If you’ve learned to kick-flip, you’ve done thousands just to get the one you landed.”
Zachary said kids could then take that determination and apply it to other areas in life.
“You can take that to school, sports or business. There’s going to be failure, but eventually you’ll get it.”
Zachary lives in Frankfort with his wife, Samantha and their children Leo, 2, and Odin, 4 months. They moved to the capital city in 2016 from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Zachary grew up in Boone, North Carolina, a small town near Asheville. He graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in art education in 2013.
He student taught at a parks and recreation center in Charlotte that had a skate park.
“This park was ran strict,” Zachary said. “Everyone had to wear helmets and pads. No one cared that the adult skate community was upset. Adult skaters avoided that park. It was a haven for the younger kids. It ended up being a beautiful thing. I keep in touch with some of the kids who are still skating.”
After teaching in Charlotte for three years, he and his wife moved to Frankfort and he began teaching art at Shelbyville East Middle School. In 2018, the teachers were asked to come up with ideas for summer camps that the school could offer. That’s when Zachary brought up the idea of a skate camp to his colleagues.
His fellow teacher Dawn Harrod loved the idea and helped him get it started.
“Shelby County got behind it,” he said. “We had 30 kids and at the end of the week, we took them to the Louisville Extreme Park.
“Skateboarding got the kids engaged. They loved it and they were progressing.”
The camp was such a hit, they decided to repeat it again over fall break and then over spring break. He also started a club with the Shelbyville skaters that meets from 4-6 p.m. every Wednesday. He now has a club in Lawrenceburg, as well, that meets from 5-7 p.m. on Mondays at the skate park at Anderson County Community Park.
Since the club and camps were so popular he decided to expand the camp outside of the school system. He took out an insurance policy, a loan to buy a passenger van, and started his LLC, Road Dog Skate Camp. The camp he held over spring break in 2021 was the first official camp for his business. That summer he offered seven weeks of camps open to skaters across Central Kentucky. Each camp sold out.
“I’ve had so much fun with it,” he said.
Zachary said he has seen so much change and growth in kids that do his skate camps.
“A lot of these kids have extenuating circumstances and traumatic backgrounds,” he said.
“Skateboarding draws in something more than just what basketball practice can offer — they can build relationships.
“Some kids have severe learning disabilities, and at the skate park they’re extremely smart. They make friends and can learn to skate.”
Zachary said he doesn’t give them too much instruction. He’ll offer tips here and there, but he’s mainly there to cheer them on. He wants them to learn on their own through trial and error.
“A lot of times, they just see me being proud. They build confidence through the little things they learn.”
Throughout the week of skate camp, Zachary will take the kids to numerous skate parks including the skate park at Lakeview Park in Frankfort and parks in Somerset, Cincinnati, Carlton, Columbus, Indiana, Bowling Green and more.
“Kentucky does have a good amount of skate parks,” he said. “Because there are so many, that’s why I was able to start the camp.”
He said wherever they are, he always notices how skate parks are the most utilized aspect of a park.
“The basketball and tennis courts are often empty,” he said. “Typically, skate parks are the more utilized part of the park.”
Zachary believes skate parks are important to a community and create a hub and safe haven for those who need it.
“Skate parks create a community for kids to find a family,” he said. “They’re engaged in a positive activity. These skate kids will play video games for a little bit, but they’re going to be outside playing. If there’s not a place for them to put their energy into, they’re going to get in trouble.”
As far as the idea that skate parks can have a bad reputation, Zachary said that’s not the case.
“The trouble makers are kids who go to parks and don’t actually skate because they don’t know what to do with themselves,” he said. “Skateboarders have a fierce sense of creativity and independence, and sometimes that comes off wrong, but skateboarding is a positive outlet for teenagers who are rebellious and have angst.
“You have people going through tough situations in their life and skateboarding is keeping them healthy. If they didn’t have it, they would be worse off. Yeah, these kids are rough around the edges, but skateboarding is keeping their life together. They’re finding a positive thing.”
The cost for a week of skate camp is $150 and is open to all ages and all ability levels. There are 14 spots available per camp. Zachary also offers a scholarship to help offset the cost of the camp.
The next week offered to those in Frankfort will be June 13-17. To see a list of additional camps being offered, visit Road Dog Skate Camp on Facebook or https://sites.google.com/view/roaddogskatecamp/?fbclid=IwAR3Pg_ufI1xsU2XyOGxi4oQFjlKCcUkZLANRd6u7ysV9J4tlzqgVjQJ-WJc