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Ocean Bowl Skate Camp can turn a youngster into a pro

There are some places where adults aren’t allowed — well, all adults except for professional skateboarders, that is. The Ocean Bowl Skate Camp, which teaches kids all about ollies, kickflips, carving up bowls and getting air on half-pipes, is open only to those ages 6 to 17. (Yes, moms and dads, everyone is required to wear protective gear.)

Gary Smith, who owns Baltimore’s Vu skate shop and runs its skateboard team, organizes the camp and picks the instructors, Ocean Bowl manager Dave Messick said. Students rotate among instructors to focus on certain skills during the daily three-hour sessions, but there’s a consistent ratio of 12 students per instructor.

Only 60 spots are available per week, which leads to “waiting lists all summer long,” Messick said, especially for the camp that coincides with the Dew Tour in August. Last year’s campers got a behind-the-scenes look at the tour, and plans for something similar are in the works.

The 10-year-old camp includes skateboarding contests, a pizza party and giveaways.

Set four blocks west of the beach and the boardwalk, Ocean Bowl opened in 1976. It’s the oldest continually operating municipal skate park in the country. The park was rebuilt from the ground up in 1998, with one large concrete pool area with a depth of nine feet for grinding, multiple bowls, vert ramps and a concrete street course — 17,000 square feet of skating in all.

If kids are wondering whether the camp could help them improve their skills, they only need to look at instructor Max Offit, who was once a camper and now comes back as a counselor and member of the Vu skate team.

Skate Camp is June 18-21, July 16-19 and Aug. 13-16; classes run from 9 a.m. to noon daily. Ocean Bowl Skate Park, Third Street and St. Louis Avenue, Ocean City. 410-289-2695. www.oceanbowl.com. $145; $125 for Ocean City residents.

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