Joel Smith made sure to bring along the essentials to Mexico.
Sunscreen, shorts — and skateboards.
The 26-year-old joined five other Red Deer residents — Jordan Thiessen, Alex Hondas, Ace Beaulieu, Tyler Peterson and Kyle Walker — for a trip to Mazatlan in late March.
Along with 18 skaters from Edmonton, they flew down to the oceanside resort community to connect with youth there.
They packed at least 10 suitcases with new and used skateboard gear, from boards to wheels and shoes.
Youth With A Mission was happy to see them.
The interdenominational Christian group runs a skateboard club within a short walk of the Pacific Ocean.
The club doesn’t have a skateboard park for young people to flip out on. Instead, they must move their ramps to wherever they can set up.
A tennis court is one place.
With some local help, the Alberta group built a pyramid-style ramp to use on club nights.
“We put on a contest with their ramps and gave out a bunch of free stuff,” Smith said. “Other than they barely speak English and we barely speak Spanish, there wasn’t a whole lot of difference.
“There’s a lot of really talented guys down there.”
Skateboarders instantly become friends, Smith added.
“They were really impressed we were there to help them. We did go to the beach, but it wasn’t a vacation.”
On club night, all of the gear the Albertan skaters brought along was handed out. It went fast.
Skatelife, a division of Christian-based organization Young Life of Canada, organized the trip.
“It’s a youth organization that’s all about building relationships and putting on events, to give kids something to do and give them positive influences,” Smith said. “Skatelife is the same thing, but it’s all geared to skateboarders.”
Smith returned to Red Deer on April 3 with a couple of others from Red Deer.
The rest returned on Wednesday and are already looking forward to going back.