In Atascadero, Kevin Campion is known for his contributions to the skateboard and scooter community. But as a kid, he spent much more time in water than on wheels.
“I started swimming competitively when I was 5 years old,” he said.
For 22 years, he competed through college at Humboldt State. But eventually the overtraining caught up with him.
“Sometimes we were doing four or five hours a day in the water,” he said.
Today, the surfer spends more time in salt water than chlorinated water. And while he no longer coaches fellow swimmers like he once did, he still provides mentorship to kids through the Atown Park, which he has run, through a contract with the city, for
the past decade.
“I think we’re making a contribution,” he said.
In between swimming, Campion found time as a youth to surf and skate in the Bay Area, where he grew up. And in 1984, Campion opened his first surf shop, Marin Surf Sport. The business was so successful that he eventually sold it and moved on to other ventures. One of those, as part owner of Poor Boy surf brand, brought him to Atascadero. That too was popular enough to sell, eventually leading to two visible local endeavors, both associated with skateboarding: The Atown Park and the 805 Boardshop are both off of Traffic Way, within skating distance of each other.
“For the record, 805 Boardshop has been around longer than 805 beer,” Campion said, referring to the popular Firestone Walker beer brand. “Everybody keeps saying, ‘Can I get a beer here?’ No.”
San Luis Obispo County, boasting several skateparks, has some pretty serious skateboard cred. Stacy Peralta, a legendary past skate champion and director of acclaimed skater biopic “Dogtown and Z-Boys,” lives in Cayucos, just a few miles north of the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum. Campion’s shop is a bit of a museum itself, with boards on display that date back to the 50s.
When he’s not selling skater shoes, shirts or decks, he can be seen at the nearby A-Town Park, an indoor skatepark that recently added an 8-foot tall half-pipe. While there are other skateparks in the county, this is the only indoor one. And it has a staff that provides supervision, making all visitors feel welcome and safe.
There are strict rules at Atown Park, Campion said, which require patrons to respect one another.
“We’ll get 40-year-old skateboarders riding with 8-year-old scooter riders, and everybody is getting along,” he said.
The park’s positive reputation has drawn support from organizations such as the Rotary Club of Atascadero and Home Depot, which recently donated money and volunteer time for the
new half-pipe. Campion will continue to champion the cause of skaters in Atascadero. But while he still surfs regularly, Campion has scaled back his skateboarding, which began back when wheels were made of clay.
“I’m 62 years old,” he said. “I don’t want to fall anymore.”