Today was a great day! We got to spend time with the kids at Valpo Surf Project (VSP) at Con Con Beach in Chile. About two years ago an intern from their organization reached out to me to see if they could partner up with us and get us to donate some boards for their program. I told him I couldn’t that year but to keep reaching out to me because we wanted to work with them. So after few years and a few emails back and forth we bought some plane tickets and made a plan.
We were really excited to come down to Chile to meet the crew and find out more about their project. After meeting Chelsea and Claudio at the airport for our transfer to Valparaiso we made our way to the VSP offices to see where the magic happens. There we met Jon, one of the founders of the VSP. We talked a little and agreeed to meet up later for a dinner at a secret spot. We were excited.
We got to our hotel, took a ten minute breather and headed out to sightsee and grab some coffee and lunch. The area surrounding our hotel was super cool. The park area was called Victoria Square. It was pretty clear it was the local hang out spot. It was very vibrant and alive. We bought a couple of souvenirs and headed to the hotel to meet up with Jon and Claudio to head to the secret spot.
On the walk we met Wiley, another one of the founders of VSP. He is a super nice lad from Maine. On the way up to dinner they warned us about the steep incline. By the time we arrived I was certainly huffing and puffing but the view was out of this world. We went up to the top floor and you could basically get a panorama of the city. It was stunning. Over dinner we talked story and compared Florida waves to Jersey and Maine waves. I really love to hear about people’s home break.
That evening we learned more about how VSP came to be and how far they have come. What I like about their story is that it is similar to how we started STSF. In 2008 These guys all took time off to travel around South America and surf. They spent some good chunks of time in different places and one was in Valparaiso. They noticed that there were not many kids in the water and the ones that were came from effluent families. This inspired them to step up and see to it that more kids had a chance to utilize the ocean which spans the entire length of the country. They decided to use three things as their core disciplines. The waves themselves, teaching the English language and teaching the importance of taking care of the environment. With this foundation they have impacted over 300 kids in four neighborhoods near Valparaiso and they continue to grow. We were so stoked to hear about all the great stuff they have done and to be able to partner with them. They are the perfect match for us to make a donation to and we look forward to hearing stories about the kids shredding on the Firewire’s.
The next day we got picked up from the hotel and driven to Con Con Beach where they usually do their surfing with the kids. It was quite a beautiful drive along the coast. We passed a few surf spots before we got to the event site. We beat all the kids who would be showing up later in the van. As soon as they arrived they all piled out and ran up to us to greet us with a kiss on the cheek. It was very sweet and they all made sure to say hello. We let the kids open up the board bags for fun. It is always fun to see how they react to the Firewire Surfboards. There was one kid who fell in instant love with the Cornice board. I think I caught him giving it a kiss. Clearly he was marking this one for himself. He actually never let it out of his hands after that. I loved his perseverance. The VSP guys gave demos on how to put on the traction pads, the FCS fins and the Sticky Bumps Wax. After the boards were ready we all got suited up, stretched and made our way to the water. When I got in I thought I was going to die…well not really but it was so cold. It was so cold that my feet hurt and actually by the end of the sesh my right toe was numb. Dang I am such a Florida surfer. The kids were going for it on the new boards. It definitely took them some time getting used to because they are more familiar with the soft tops. There was one girl in particular who was significantly better than everyone else. I was so stoked to see her ripping on the Firewire. It always feels good seeing the kids having so much fun on the boards we bring all over the world. It was a great day complete with some Chilean empanadas and a jugo de maracuya.
Our trip to Chile was short and sweet and left me wanting more. It is a beautiful country and the people we met there were super friendly and loving. We will definitely be back. Thanks for the love Chile.