Well Peru was incredible…as usual. On this trip was myself, Gabriel (the first STSF intern), Jeanine from Domical Waverider Surf Camp and her husband Andrew, Kerri Smith, STSF Board Member and lawyer extraordinaire and my biggest supporters, Neily and Anela.
This trip was already set to be one for the books based on the fact that I got to bring my almost four year old on a Share The Stoke mission for the first time. I was so excited to see how she would participate. It was pretty cool to watch and I will go into more of that later.
Like most times traveling to Chicama, we usually end up with an overnight in the Lima airport. Well finally this year, after all the years sleeping on the floor at the airport, I discovered there was a hotel attached to the airport that you could walk to. GAME CHANGER! No more floors, no more guarding bags while you sleep and no more security guards harassing you for sleeping on the floor and blocking walkways.
Leading up to this trip, Gabriel spearheaded a wetsuit drive with Nomad Surf Shop, a local surf shop in Florida who have always been very supportive of STSF. With their help and few posts to social media we were able to score over 50 wetsuits for the kids. This is critical for them as the water hovers in the 50’s for many months of the year.
Once we arrived we went straight out for a surf despite being supremely tired from waking up at 4am to catch a flight. The waves were super fun which was great because after that sesh it got super small for the rest of the trip except for the day we left.
That evening the Chicama Surf Team showed up and surprised us with a huge welcome that included a small kid on the team jumping out of a giant gift box and flossing. It was unreal.
It was interesting to see how the team has morphed over the years. Some years they would have all girls on the team. One year they had one boy with them. This year they had a few girls and a few boys. We got introductions from all of them. They are so cute and seem to be truly happy to be on the surf team.
My kid, Anela, was a bit overwhelmed by the whole scene at first with the kid popping out of giant box and firework type noise makers going off. I think she was confused about what could be going on. As time passed on that evening with the kids she became more and more interested in them and playing with them. They were all very interested in her as I don’t think they get to see, much less spend time with many light skin babies rolling through Puerto Malabrigo.
We had a few down days before the big event so we spent them riding tiny waves, playing with dogs on the beach, swimming, eating and socializing with the kids and other people we met on the trip and organizing all of the gear and supplies that we brought for the kids and Peruvian families.
What I was starting to notice about Anela was that she wanted to be a part of all the organizing and getting stuff together for the kids. She really loved helping and spending time with me doing what I love which is of course a heart melter.
This year we had two special guests show up to support our event and help out. One was Natalie from Groundswell and one was a local from Huanchaco named Javi. STSF and Groundswell have partnered up in the past to donate boards to the Groundswell programs in Huanchaco, Peru and in Cuba. Javi runs his own surf club in Huanchaco and inspires the youth there. We all had a nice lunch together before we made our way down the beach to do our giant beach cleanup. After it was all said and done we had a solid group of kids show up. Not bad for a late Friday afternoon. This year was the cleanest we have ever seen the beach and the kids were amping on getting out there to see how much garbage they could find.
After the cleanup was done we circled the kids up while Javi led the kids through stretching and surf lessons. The Chicama locals volunteered to help and pushed the kids into the waves. Also, we witnessed a record number of locals showing up and giving back to this event this year. It is a good sign and a good direction we are heading. I suppose the next step is to have them do this at least a few times before we show up and do our big event.
The kids surfing were doing awesome. You always get several kids who really show promise and the desire to keep going. Likely we will see them next year shredding when we return. After the kids got their last waves we ran up on the hill where we passed out a meal for the participants and a little gift we had for them. Of course Anela was elbow deep in the doling out of goodies. It was a great day!
Later that night we had a movie night for the kids and locals at Chicama Surf Resort. It was about the protection of the waves in Peru and how some had been destroyed. It was pretty good and informative of what can happen to our precious resources if people don’t become stewards and fight for them. At the end Jeanine spoke about pollution, plastics and how to start introducing ways to eliminate the use for plastics. She even brought some bamboo straws for each of the kids to start using.
The next day was contest day. This day is always the best as we get to watch the kids showcase their skills. They always show up big too as there is a lot on the line. We had three divisions all competing for brand new Firewire Surfboards and gear from FCS and Sticky Bumps. Andrew, Myself and Gabriel all got to be judges. Of course, Anela had to be in the mix too. She would shout out which color was up and riding…a perfect job for a person with young eyes.
Neily, Kerri and Jeanine all worked to run the contest smoothly and organized prizes and make sure everyone had water or food if they needed. At the end of the day everyone was stoked. Every kid that competed got stoked out with some really great stuff and as a thank you we were all greeted with Chicama doing its finest sunset we had seen the whole trip.
The next day the waves came up a bit and we surfed in the morning and flew out that night. It was a successful trip. We donated 12 surfboards to the locals, 50 wetsuits, booties, shirts, boardshorts, hats, gear, etc. to the people of Chicama. We would like to send out a massive thank you to everyone who helped support this trip by donating gear, wetsuits, made a donation, volunteered their time or sent us good vibes on our mission.
One last note…I am so grateful to have been able to take my kid to Peru on a stoke mission. Peru has always been one of our most favorite places and when we go we feel like we are at home. I loved seeing her mix it up with the locals. I was so proud of her for getting right in there and telling me every time that she wanted to be a part of something that we were doing. It was exciting to see how confident she was helping out. Her vibe was like hey I’m Anela…I’m with Share The Stoke Foundation and we are here to make a difference!
I am so thankful to the kids of Peru who loved on her and played with her and treated her like family. Until next year…stay tubed my friends!