Bocas We LOVE YOU

Bocas del Toro has always been one of our favorite spots to go and stoke out kids. There was never a doubt that we would return in 2016. This year with me I had Tim Frater and Brion from Firewire Surfboards, our surfboard sponsor. This was the first time we have had a representative from one of our sponsors go on a stoke mission with us. I was stoked!

Tim and I met up with Brion at a hotel in Panama City. We had an over nighter and were to fly out the next morning bright and early to head to Bocas. The flight was an hour and our STSF ambassador, Juan David was there to pick us up. Juan David is owner of Mono Loco Surf School and we have always worked together to bring love and hope to local kids in Bocas. He has a huge heart for helping kids and it never stops when we leave. He is constantly stoking kids out all year long with surfboards so they can shred.IMG_6183

As soon as we landed we were keen to surf so we did that. We surfed Careneros, my favorite wave there. The waves were not huge but they certainly kept us entertained. Other than the surfing we did, we got the opportunity to go over to Bahia Roja and see the work that Give and Surf has been doing. Over the years they have done many projects on Bastimentos dealing with education (building two schools), community development and their youth surfing program.FullSizeRender

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Last year we donated surfboards to some of the kids in their program who showed promise and a skill for surfing. We are certainly proud to partner up with Give and Surf who is making a major impact in this corner of the world.

Another highlight from our trip is the surf contest we hosted with some other really amazing sponsors. The format was three kids on a team, an A surfer, a B surfer and a beginner. The idea was to get the kids to rally behind their friends and try and help them win a surfboard so they can take their surfing to the next level. This turned out to be a very cool format and helps kids motivate each other and for them to support each other in surfing.

The day turned out to be perfect for the contest. We were posted up at Paki Point right out in front of Tiger Tail.IMG_6249
The waves were not huge but perfect for all three levels of surfers. We ended up having five teams in the contest. Give and Surf brought two teams, the island of Careneros had a team and there were two teams from Isla Colon. This was a pretty good representation of the local youth surfers!13495552_10154417991265466_8330902722047452743_o
Brion, Tim and I were judges. I think this is the best job because you have to stay focused and you get to see all of the kids waves. After a few hours and lots of surfing we had the teams placed. We started out the awards by donating another two surfboards to the Give and Surf crew. This is a good fit as they take the kids surfing twice a week and need quality boards for them to ride. IMG_6306
Next we started in with the fourth place team who got a used board as well as third place. Second and first place teams received brand new Firewire Surfboards with FCS gear and Sticky Bumps wax. The kids were pumped! Everyone was pumped! We donated some of the new Slater Design boards which was pretty exciting too! It was a great day all around.IMG_631713517618_10154417990910466_1994780188904255868_o

Later that day we made provisions for our trip on Sunday to Kusapin. Kusapin is an hour boat ride from Bocas into indigenous Ngobe Bugle land.IMG_6339
It is one of the coolest places I had visited so I was super excited to go back. Last year when we were there we donated surfboards and we also taught two boys how to surf. It was one of those experiences that you have and realize while you are there that you are so lucky to be able to do what you do and just hope that the kids will stick with it.

The morning of the boat ride the weather was perfect. The sun was shining and all was perfect. We high tailed it at 7 at the dock and about an hour later we were stepping off the boat and onto the dock at Kusapin. IMG_6353
We paid our fee to be there and for the rooms for the night. The rooms were basic accomodations…meaning a room and a bed with a sheet. That was it.13576804_10208888039898918_5275870004107035175_o
But the real beauty was the fact that these basic rooms were over the water in the bay. It was a nice view for sure.

We unloaded our stuff and locked it up and headed off across the peninsula to the other side for a surf. As soon as we walked up you could see the wind was offshore and the waves looked fun.IMG_6358
The water there is a nice crystal blue that is certainly pleasing to the eye. We all paddled out. About ten minutes into our session I saw two young boys standing on the beach with boards. I was wondering if it was the two boys we had taught to surf last year. Then I saw them paddling out and soon enough they were right beside us on their Firewire Surfboards we donated last year. It really was like a dream come true. They had kept on surfing and in fact were out in some pretty good sized waves. I was so stoked! There is nothing better than seeing the fruits of your labor growing and getting better. That is GOLD! We caught up with them and got waves with them and hooted and hollered. It was a fun sesh.

We went back later in the day for another sesh and just like before the kids appeared on the beach and in the lineup with us. I loved it. We had a quick sesh before we donated two more more boards. One of the smaller kids got the smallest board we brought.IMG_6438

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He was begging us to give him the board. I have a feeling that next year he will be shredding just like the bigger boys. That whole day with the kids was amazing. It was so good to see the familiar faces and spend time with them on the beach opening coconuts and taking selfies.IMG_6392

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We headed back across to the lodging spot. I threw up my hammock on the beams. I was determined to sleep in it right by the water.IMG_6477
We all ate dinner and enjoyed it. We had no electric so once the sun went down we used flashlights. That made for an easier decision to go to bed. I think I was in the hammock by 8 or so. The first hour was great until the rain started. I kept dry but the roof we were under was tin and it sounded like a war zone off and on all night. I think the locals we were with slept pretty well but us city slickers tossed and turned. I was stoked on the hammock and can’t wait to use it again!

The next day we woke and went for our last surf there and to say goodbye to the kids. The waves were bigger and PUMPING! One of the kids made it out and caught a few. It was so epic to see him charging solid, overhead, top to bottom, barreling waves. Crazy in a year how good they got!

And just like that we were back on the mainland packing up to go home. Brion left that afternoon and us the next day. We barely made our flight because of delays from our first flight. We ended up having to throw out our empty boardbags in the trash and I even had to beg and plead and cry in order for them to help us get on the flight. It was ridiculous! But we made it on with plenty of time to spare and I got to hold my baby girl Anela right on time! If you ever get a chance to go to Bocas del Toro please check out Mono Loco Surf School for all your needs and make sure to order the pulled pork sandwhich at the Hungry Monkey.

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Barra de la Cruz…Mexico

This is our third year going to Mexico and teaming up with the AHAVA Project with local Mexican, big wave surfer Coco Nogales. He and I touched base earlier in the year about how this year the project was going to be bigger and better. He said he would be inviting 35 kids this year and the event would span over a Friday, Saturday and Sunday. He asked how many boards I could bring and I committed Share The Stoke Foundation to donating 10 to the project. IMG_5369

The flight was from Miami through Mexico City and on to Huatulco. We met up with Coco at the gas station across the street from the airport and we caravanned to Barra de la Cruz, about thirty minutes or so away. We pulled off the main road to a small road that went from pavement to dirt. Soon enough we realized we were in the middle of nowhere based on no real hotels, only cabanas and no cell signal at all.

As soon as we unloaded the boards into the cabana we headed down to the beach for a surf. Right as we came over the hill we could see there was a small swell and the waves were glassy. This was a perfect way to wash off the travel funk.   Later that night we had a meeting with all the volunteers and kids about the weekend activities. It was so cool to see a bunch of familiar faces and the kids were still riding Firewire Surfboards that we had donated in 2013.  It was epic!IMG_5380  After that we headed back to the cabana to get some sleep. While we were winding down we noticed some scorpions in our room. This didn’t sit well. And with the fact that our fan wasn’t working properly we decided to sleep in the car. Yeah, yeah I know that seems crazy but with being in the middle of nowhere we decided getting stung by scorpions would not pan out too well. It was a long, hot night.FullSizeRender copy 3

The next day we met down at the beach at 630a to get started. The kids surfed, exercised and cleaned the beach. Beginner surfers got pushed into waves and the better surfers were absolutely shredding the point. IMG_5390While we were there we learned that this place used to be a super hot spot. They actually had a Rip Curl event here in 2006 and didn’t name the location, instead said “somewhere in Mexico”. Between some hurricanes and the people diverting the river so they could put a restaurant on the beach, the sand shifted and it hasn’t been barreling in years. It was still certainly good enough for all of us to have a field day on the right hand point.

Saturday was more of the same except for we all camped on the beach that night. It was pretty great. We got approval from the town to camp. Usually it is off limits for everyone so we felt pretty stoked to be able to sleep under the stars. The boys had a massive bonfire complete with smores and some good ole amigos singing and playing the guitar.IMG_5409IMG_5420

Sunday started out with beach yoga and some surfing. After that we donated the surfboards. The kids were pumped. There were three different areas of kids that got boards. Some went to the Barra kids, some went to the Puerto kids and some went to the San Agustin kids. It was great to spread the love amongst different communities. We are so stoked to be able to donate free surfboards to kids in communities like these where there are so many other negative options for these kids to choose.IMG_5517IMG_5522IMG_5588 We love that they have chosen surfing and they are good surfers. They absolutely rip, even the tiny tots. I guess when you have perfect waves in your backyard it is fairly easy to be a solid surfer.

After the event we headed to Puerto Escondido to get a couple of waves before we headed back to Florida. We surfed the point which was firing. Zicatela was off its rocker and pumping. There were only a few guys out.IMG_5576 They were riding massive guns and a few were towing in. It was heavy. You could literally feel the waves through your body when they detonated on the shore. Just watching it do its thing made my heart race. It was a sight to see. Soon enough we rushed back to the airport to make our flight and were home with loved ones with new tales to tell.

Final Stop…FIJI!!!

Wow that was a blur…well kind of. We arrived from Vanuatu so pumped to see what Fiji had to offer and it did not disappoint! We spent a couple nights on Nadi where we met up with our local Fijian contact, Ian Muller. When I had asked Nev if he had a good contact in Fiji for us to work with he said Ian is the man! When I saw him for the first time I thought this guy is the real deal. By the real deal I mean he is as local as they come and proud of his roots to the Fijian culture and surfing. We chatted outside the Fiji Club Resort getting to know each other.IMG_0142 He told me about how surfing came to be in Fiji and his role in helping to get it started. Ian is the founder of Fiji Surf Co., the only surf shop in Fiji. Not only do they do surf tours and lessons, but they also do all sorts of other excursions too. So basically, if you need something epic to do on the island call Ian and sort it out. And we can vouch for the quality service because we spent two days on the boat with them out at Cloudbreak surfing epic waves.

While we were chatting he talked about the idea of donating the surfboards to the Vodo Ua Boardriders Surf Club. They are a group of surfers united to make the island better with beach cleanups and getting more people into the surf culture. He assured me this was the best way to donate the boards so that the most amount of kids get to use them. We agreed.

We decided to turn over the boards in a few days after we return from Malolo, a neighboring island that we would spend three days on. So we traveled to Malolo by boat. It was about an hour boat ride from the main island.IMG_0137 The ride over was bumpy but we didn’t care. The sun was soon to set and we were out in the deep blue sea to catch it go down. I felt blessed for this moment in time.FullSizeRender-2 The next few days were spent surfing. It was our time to get some surfing in so we did two sessions a day. Basically we woke at 4:45am, surfed for four hours, ate lunch, surfed for three hours, ate dinner and went to bed by 9:00pm. FullSizeRender_1FullSizeRenderIMG_0208IMG_4751 Our last day we hitched a ride back to the main island with the Fiji Surf Co. boats and met up with Ian, Sam and Anne from Sustainable Coastlines and headed over to Ian’s place for some relaxation before we headed to the airport later that night. Sustainable Coastlines is a charity that aims to inspire, educate and enable people to look after the places we love.

At Ian’s we met his family and played a few games of pool and some ping pong. Ian also concocted up some Kava as a farewell to us. The Kava didn’t taste like much, other than some rooty water. The effect was mild and made your mouth a bit numb. After a couple of shells of Kava Ian fired up the barbecue and Sam prepped the fish he had speared earlier in the day. We ate it sashimi style. It was yummy and so was Ian’s BBQ. This was one hell of a send off. It was so nice. As the sun was setting Logan and I handed over the boards for the Vodo Ua Boardriders Club.IMG_4854 We are proud to be able to work with such great people with big hearts looking to make a positive contribution to society. And just like that our time was up and we were due at the airport. As I sit here in LAX airport waiting to go to Florida I am so happy for all the experiences we had, all the amazing people we met and the idea that we can all work together for the greater good. Now get me home so that I may share my love with my family. I miss them so much!

Vanuatu Part Two // Tanna

As I sit here on a plane headed from Vanuatu to Fiji my heart is full. I mean the fullest it has ever been. I will try and describe how it all happened. Two days ago we left Port Vila and headed to Tanna Island to take part in a celebration with the people of Tanna and other NevHouse contributors. I wasn’t so sure of what to expect but I knew it would be an experience of a lifetime and one that may never come my way again. While waiting for the flight to Tanna a lot of people with the same itinerary started showing up and we just started introducing ourselves. It was there that I met Nev Hyman for the first time. He was just as gregarious as I had imagined him to be and full of life.   Soon enough I realized that we were in the company of some really great people. We met investors, shareholders, journalists, optometrists, solar experts, inventors, board of directors, architects and a photographer whose photos I have seen many times all over social media and in magazines named Ted Grambeau. Surf Journal called Ted “the master of surf photography” in 2009. Here is something to feast your eyes upon by Ted.Mark mathews  Teahupoo in to the AbyssPhoto by Ted Grambeau Photography

When we landed in Tanna, there were probably 20 or so 4×4 trucks waiting to drive us to Enkatalei Village, a bumpy hour or so drive. We ended up in the back of one of the 4×4’s with Ted. We started off and soon we were away from the airport and things just got more and more pretty.

With each kilometer passed the scenery became more lush and super green. It is hard to imagine that after the cyclone in 2015 that the entire island turned brown and that all the leaves were gone from the trees. About 45 minutes into our trip we started seeing lots of people in brightly colored garb walking in the same direction. I certainly didn’t realize they were headed to the same ceremony as us.IMG_4250 Later I found out that some of the people had walked from the other side of the island, some for at least a day to get there. Ponder that for a minute. We started seeing little huts and people coming out of them to greet us with magnificent smiles and frantic waves. Their outfits were made from local plants and trees from their villages. It was surreal.

Each minute that passed materialized into something greater than the last. We pulled into this huge clearing where there must have been two thousand people. I kept saying “where are we”? I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We jumped out of the truck and started following the masses and were greeted with a flower lei as a welcome. IMG_4256IMG_4261We were corralled onto another area that was open this time with even more people we saw than when we pulled up. It was overwhelming. About as soon as we took a seat the villagers started this massive circular dance where the men came out first then the women and children encompassed them. They sang, chanted and danced followed by running holding hands. Each tribe had 200 people in this dance. I will save you from doing the math and tell you this was a giant circle with 2400 people. While they jumped you could literally feel the ground beneath your feet shake. You could feel it through your entire body. This went on for the good part of thirty minutes.   Afterwards I was so jolted and I am not sure I have ever felt so alive.IMG_7605IMG_7652IMG_7615

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At the end of the dancing a series of men started bringing out, one by one, a live pig, root crops, kava plants and woven mats (the pillars of life in Vanuatu). I was puzzled but had a really bad feeling that something bad was going to happen to them. A translator came out into the middle of the circle and explained in English what this celebration was about. We learned that there were 12 tribes on the island who have agreed to work together as one for the betterment of the island. The gifts that each tribe brought were an offering and a a gesture to confirm their commitment of tribal unity.  It was powerful considering that these tribes had never seen each other before this great day. I won’t go into the details of the sacrifice other than to say I didn’t watch but being ringside you really could not escape it.

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, the Tanna governor, Nev and Ken the NevHouse architect all made speeches this day. All of this was geared toward the work being done by NevHouse, which is quite remarkable how far they have come in just four years since its inception.  We got to take a tour inside the NevHouse and it was really nicely made but more important than that is the fact that it can withstand a category 5 cyclone. This means that if another cyclone ravages Tanna again, the people can take refuge in these houses built from recycled plastics. I had a chance to speak with Nev about the construction of these houses and realized that the NevHouses have the ability to clean up the planet. Nevhouse purchases recycled plastics and makes their new materials for the houses. So what if laypersons knew that if they could be paid for the plastics they use? I believe that people all over the world would be incentivized to keep their homes, streets, beaches and everywhere clean. People who cannot find the money for food would now have an occupation and a way to access the some of the basic necessities. In many places we travel I see dirty beaches, dirty towns. I see people throw an empty water bottle to the ground after they finish it. This could be a thing of the past. How cool is that? I see so many positives to the NevHouse project. It is absolutely brilliant.

The rest of the day was spent with another Kastom dance with different people. This time the people were dressed more conservative despite the bright colored attire.FullSizeRender Another highlight was being able to tour the NevHouse hospital run on solar power. It was built for everyone on the entire island, despite it being in Enkatalei Village. If you can make your way there, you were welcome.FullSizeRender-2

Later that day we met up with Simon from the Vanuatu Surfing Association over at the beach where the inaugural Tommy Tanna Nev Cup contest was happening.  The kids where strutting their stuff out in the water.  They are pretty good surfers considering they have only been surfing for a few months.2016-04-23_DSC6753Photo by Ted Grambeau Photography

At the end for the awards ceremony  Nev was talking about how cool this day was and he got a bit emotional, I was thinking thank god I am not the only one.  It is magical what he has created here with the local people and especially cool that he started the Tommy Tanna Surf Club there.  FullSizeRender copy 4IMG_4473IMG_4483The next day we ventured back over to the village to drop off some surfboards that Nev had brought with him. We were told to go back to the nakamal (the meeting spot for the people) and ask for the chief and tell him we were there to donate the boards to their people. So we did that and the chief had left for Port Vila so we gave them to the kids and for them to tell the chief.IMG_4546.JPG The kids were keen to surf so we walked down the path with them leading to the surf. IMG_4557When we got close enough you could see that a lot of the kids were already in the water surfing on their Firewire Surfboards. It was awesome.IMG_4589 We then asked if we could borrow a board so we could join them. As I was paddling out I had a strong sense of just how magical this moment was. We were in this far off land, surfing fun waves with the Tanna locals with a backdrop of the most lush, tropical setting. I was taking it all in and almost overcome with tears because of what I was getting to experience and how most people will never have this epic experience. I was grateful.

As the sun was starting to drop we packed it up and made our way back up the hill. The hill was pretty hectic so I kept making little stops to take a breather then some local girls caught up to me. We introduced ourselves. They didn’t speak much English but they kept saying “God is good, all the time”. Then I would join them and we kept repeating it. They were so sweet. One girl kept pouring out her water on the back of my legs because I was tracking mud up the backs and she wanted me to be clean. I kept thanking her but felt bad because she was using all her water for my legs.   It was a moment I will remember forever.IMG_4643

Soon enough we found our way to the truck and hopped in the back and headed off in the direction of the volcano. We were told it was the most active volcano in the world and it would erupt every four minutes. I was pretty excited to see this. On the drive out all the kids and people would run to the road to smile and wave goodbye to us.FullSizeRender copy 2FullSizeRender_1 copyIMG_4689 It was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I felt overcome with love. They loved us and we loved them. It was a bittersweet drive.

Once we started getting closet to Mt. Yasur we finally caught a glimps of the volcano and holy moly it was pretty cool. You could see the smoke billowing out of the crater from afar.FullSizeRender-2 copy I was anxious to get there quick. The drive in was something out of Jurassic Park or another planet and every twist and turn got more and more exciting.IMG_4708IMG_4724 We made it to the top finally and walked the last bit in the dark with flashlights. As we were walking up we heard a huge boom then lava jolted up into the sky. I was freaking out. Once at the summit you could see into the bottom and see the lava. Sure enough about every five minutes or so there was a loud boom and lava would go flying up into the air. It was amazing to see and to feel it too. It made for an epic end to our time on Tanna.2016-04-24_TED5705Photo by Ted Grambeau Photography

Tanna is probably the most welcoming place I have ever been. The people are so full of love and willing to open their hearts to you if you do the same. Tanna was an experience of a lifetime!

Vanuatu Part One // Port Vila

Where do we start with this one? Well, I suppose from the beginning. So I got an email from Nev Hyman, founder and shaper for Firewire Surfboards inviting us to collaborate on a project. Naturally, when you get an email from this man you do whatever it takes to make it happen.   So I told him that STSF would love to partner up and said any time you are ready. He mentioned that on April 23rd there was going to be a big celebration in Vanuatu for the NevHouse project and invited us out. NevHouse builds sustainable housing made out of recycled materials that takes five days to construct. The purpose of this particular project was to help the people of Enkatalei Village rebuild after the destruction from the cyclone of 2015. In addition to the finale of the project we would be helping host the the surf contest there for the local villagers. So needless to say this project was right up our alley and we were going to make it happen.

After lots of research and planning we decided that we could make some surfboard donations to the Vanuatu Surfing Association. We also decided to donate surfboards to the Fijian youth on our way back from Vanuatu on our way home.  We eventually booked our tickets and hotels and were all set. We were stoked to have the support of Surfr App and Corey Hudson Artworks for this trip to the South Pacific.

A short time passed between the time we heard of the event from Nev, booked our tickets and boarded our planes.  I packed up eight Firewire Surfboards, FCS gear and Sticky Bumps wax and flew out to LAX to meet up with Logan Kamen, longtime STSF volunteer and ambassador. Stoke was at an all time high as we were checking in our luggage in the line at Fiji Airways. We crossed security and went to our gate and I slept for about two hours before we boarded our plane.   The flight to Fiji was 11 hours and I think I slept for about eight of those which was pretty darn good. After we touched down in Fiji we hopped another two and half hour plane ride over to Port Vila. We were pumped. As we were flying in you could see beautiful blue water and green land with palm trees everywhere which is exactly what feeds my soul.IMG_4102 We hit the ground and went to wait for our luggage and boards. The luggage came but the boards didn’t. This was a heartbreaker. I spoke with the airline agent and they said the boardbags were too big for the small plane which seemed odd because I have been on smaller planes often and traveled with the same two boardbags. I was bummed. The story was that they were going to try and put them on the flight the next day.   We accepted that and headed off to our hotel to get some coffee and to go for a surf.

Through Nev, we had been in contact with a representative of the Vanuatu Surfing Association named Simon who told us where to go to get boards and to get some waves.   We paid our taxi and headed for the beach. The island is beautiful and the people are as well. Everyone speaks to you and greets you with a massive smile. They certainly make you feel welcome here on their island. We met up with a guy from the VSA named Brad who gave us some boards to use. He introduced us to the local kids and we all went out for a surf. The kids were all outgoing and super loud in the lineup when the bigger waves come. They would hoot and holler when you get a good one. The reefbreak we surfed was super fun and broke on super shallow, live reef. If you opened your eyes underwater you would see the most spectacular colors. It was epic. After the sesh we flagged down a bus and headed back to the hotel super happy that we got to surf with the kids. That was a pretty long day we had and we fell asleep early and slept like rocks.

The next day we went back to the beach and surfed with the crew and had a blast getting fun, ripable waves. On the day we were to leave the boards arrived!  Thank you surf gods!   We were stoked! IMG_4165Three days late but they were here and we could hand them over. We made our way out to the beach with them and finally one of the guys asked if he could open up the bag so we let him. He opened it up and got loud and so excited and was smiling ear to ear. He picked up every board and held it before he passed it off to the other kids to hold. It was a pretty magical moment seeing them get so excited about the new boards. This was also our first opportunity to give away one of the new Slater Designs boards. These SD boards are super special because we always wanted to be affiliated with Kelly Slater and now we have our logo on his boards. How cool is that? The VSA crew decided they would use these new boards as first place prize for the next four surf contests for the kids.  Man, I want to win a new board:)  The kids are going to be stoked!FullSizeRender_1FullSizeRender copyThe evening faded and we packed up shop so we could head over to Tanna for the big event with NevHouse. Port Vila was good to us and a place we know we will return to one day.

I would like to send a massive thank you to JETBLUE airlines for allowing us to fly our boardbags for free out to California for this trip.  You have been a lifesaver on several of our trips now.  We cannot thank you enough for being an epic airline and believing in our mission!

Doing Good In Dominical

Well our 2016 stoke season is officially kicked off. This past week we spent time in Dominical, Costa Rica with a great group of female surfers.  We love going to Costa Rica for several reasons.  First, it is very close for us and easy to get to.  Two, the people there are amazing. Three, the ceviche is to die for:)  Four, the waves are good!  We could go on but we won’t.  IMG_3328IMG_3325

Three years ago we donated some surfboards there through a local surf camp owner, Jeanine Haddid of Dominical Waverider. Since then we have stayed in contact and have had regular updates on the kids we stoked out before. Last year, a local girl from Domincalito named Claudi Schulz Sonco asked Debbie Zec and later on Jeanine Haddad for help in starting a girls surf “project”. So in May of 2015 the three women vowed to help the young girls in the town learn to surf. So Chicas Con Proposito (Girls With Purpose) was born and instantly there was a group for the girls to attend and to experience surfing.12068603_1645651232360272_313020558485879480_oAt first they started out with five girls but word quickly spread and now they have up to 25 girls who regularly attend the sessions. When speaking to Jeanine I asked her what she hopes to accomplish with the girls and she said that the goal is to have them surf, to do better things in their life and to give them an outlet.

On the day we got to meet up with the chicas we had laid down the Firewire Surfboards, complete with FCS fins and Sticky Bumps Wax and while I was filming I was watching out of one eye how the girls reacted to seeing the new surfboards and it was really neat to see how excited they got.FullSizeRender copy They all leaned down over them and touched them. For me too, the feel of a new surfboard without wax is something special. There was no hiding how they felt based on their smiles and how giddy they were. This is the moment of what we live for. But even more than the excitement of a brand new board, what this brand new board represents is unfathomable for most. For us a surfboard represents life. It represents endless possibilities. It can be a vehicle to find out who you really are. Surfing can be that beginning to the life you always wanted. THAT my friend is why Share The Stoke Foundation exists. We are that vehicle for these children.FullSizeRender copy 2

We would like to send out a special thanks to Vivian at Domilocos for seeing the value in Chicas Con Proposito and taking great care of us with lodging. If you are looking for a great place to stay in Dominical check it out. It is right next to the beach, clean and has air conditioning.

Massive thanks to Claudia for being a positive light in a world that sometimes needs to be brightened up. We are grateful that she had the confidence to stand up and say I can make a difference and she did. We are stoked to know you!FullSizeRender_1

 

Portugal Stoke Mission–Part 3 of 3

This blog is written by Joan Bergmans, STSF Extraordinaire

Fisherman’s Sons

A few months back we got in contact with Dutch female surfer and manager of Oporto Surf Camp, Katrijn. We wanted to impact the children of northern Portugal as this is one of Portugal’s poorest areas where support is more than needed. Fellow surfers back home had told us to contact Katrijn and she was more than happy to help us out. We were so stoked to finally meet her in real life. She is definitely the amazing mom, soul surfer, caring optimist and successful businesswoman people have been telling us about.

The northern coastal lowlands of Portugal are stunning and known for its rough coastline, empty lineups and idyllic fisherman towns. The surf town Esmoriz is no different and we were shocked seeing so many poor families trying to make a small living of catching and selling fish. To let the community know about the event, Katrijn had created a colorful flyer and spread it amongst the young fisherman’s children in town before our arrival. We had no idea how many kids were going to show up at the given meeting point and just hoped for the best. We got the support of Oporto’s Surf Camp crew. Sandro (talented photograher and surf instructor), Allesandro (Italian Pizza tester and surf instructor) and Pedro (Adventurer and surf instructor) came down to stoke out the children of Esmoriz with us.

When we arrived we already saw a small group of boys hanging out watching the big waves hitting the coastline. They told us that the girls were not keen on getting out due to this big swell and cloudy forecast but would be interested in a follow-up event under sunny skies.116Photo by Sandro

You could read the excitement on the boys faces. They had no idea what was coming and all tried to play it cool when we asked them to get in the van for a little surf check. The team decided to drive further south with the kids, this to avoid onshore winds and create a safe learning environment.73Photo by Kim Hanskamp

75Photo by Kim Hanskamp

Arriving at Praia de Cortegaca we got into our colorful Janga suits and prepared the boards for the adventure. All seven young surfers explained to us they were comfortable with the ocean and most had used bodyboards before. Surfing on a surfboard was something new. They explained to us they never had the chance to use a proper surfboard as surfboards were expensive and therefor unavailable to them.

Katrijn started the warm-up and explained the importance of warming up your body before getting your surf session. 80Photo by Kim Hanskamp

81Photo by Kim Hanskamp

After 15 minutes they put on their leashes and ran into the ocean to start their class. We agreed on signals to make sure everybody was safe as the ocean currents were very unpredictable. Countless waves were ridden and we all felt these tough boys finally had the chance to be kids again.91Photo by Kim Hanskamp

92Photo by Kim Hanskamp

Surfing gave them the opportunity to forget everything and just be one with the ocean. We helped them improve their style, pop-up and body position while having pure FUN. The sun set and turned the sky into a melting pot of reds, yellows and blues.102Photo by Sandro
99Photo by Kim Hanskamp

Nobody wanted to get out so we decided to surf till dark. All satisfied, tired yet extremely stoked we left the beach and got dressed. No words can describe how proud we all were of our young surfers.

We handed out some sponsored goods and got together at Oporto Surf Camp to check the photos of the day and play some old-fashioned table soccer. 136Photo by Sandro

137Photo by Sandro
Our fisherman’s sons became true surfers and these true surfers inspired us to start something up for them in the nearby future.

The next day we sat down with Katrijn and brainstormed about the options. Conclusion was that these kids need a lot of support, guidance, surf and love to become the best version of themselves in addition to the five Firewire surfboards we donated to them. We are all dedicated to give them just that and agreed on making this happen for them.

We invite you to be part of the local surf revolution in Oporto and contact us if you can be of any help sponsoring with surf gear or able to donate your experience and knowledge. Let’s make their future a bright one filled with Oporto-unity and surf.118Photo by Sandro