THEY DON'T ALL LOOK LIKE BOY Scouts, not with their skateboards and their bristled Mohawk haircuts.
Turning skateboard freaks into Boy Scouts was the only way that Delmar Skate Park, of San Diego, could obtain liability insurance and stay in business. And therein lies one of the strangest tales of the insurance crisis (see above story).
When we published an article on the insurance crisis ("Going Bare," October 1985), Delmar had just lost its liability insurance, not an uncommon experience for many companies these days. Pelican Properties Inc., a general partner in the partnership that owns Delmar, decided to close the park rather than go without liability insurance and risk a damage award that could bankrupt the company.
But then someone had a bright idea. Would it really work to turn Delmar Skate Park into a Boy Scouts of America post?
"We had exhausted our approaches," says Dorothy Doan, owner of Pelican Properties. "We went to high-risk insurers, to everybody -- there was simply nowhere to turn." When a newspaper article reminded her of the Boy Scouts' sponsorship of "chartered organizations," Doan saw one last chance for Delmar. She proposed to a division of the San Diego County Council of the Boy Scouts of America that the skateboard park be brought back to life as a Boy Scout post. It would give the park liability insurance -- free liability insurance, covered by a portion of each Scout's registration fee, worth $40,000 under the council's master policy.
The Boy Scouts bit: what better way to expose the manic skateboard crowd to the gentler influences of Scouting? Now those who come to the gate with a skateboard -- females 14 and over, males 8 to 20 -- have to join the Boy Scouts before they're allowed in the park. They're also encouraged to attend biweekly meetings and to earn merit badges in such activities as skateboard building, skate safety, and fitness.
How far could this approach go? Something tells us it won't work for toxic-waste-disposal companies.