Peruvian Delights

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.Screen Shot 2018-11-06 at 2.09.42 PM

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.IMG_4191

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.eeef4884-9248-48de-8118-58b8120d1dc8IMG_7044

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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.

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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.GPTempDownload 12IMG_9348

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.GPTempDownload 19GPTempDownloadGPTempDownload 18GPTempDownload 21

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!45268097_2162829227084296_1918319843946266624_o

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.IMG_9278IMG_5283

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.IMG_9699

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. IMG_8007

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!

 

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Pura Vida Chicas

Home for a day now and what a whirlwind! This past stoke mission was to Costa Rica. Last July a gentleman that we partnered with in 2013 asked us to do an impact trip to a different place in Costa Rica with a new group. Having worked with him in the past we were stoked to do it. We organized with the leader of the group and we booked our tickets about three or four months before the trip. As time passed the trip grew closer and closer and I reached out to the organizer about a week before the trip asking for details. Long story short…she mentioned that she is no longer running the organization and it has closed. My first instinct was anger at the fact that we now had very few days to organize something else while we are there. It is always our first priority to keep our commitments with our sponsors so we needed to find a different group to make an impact with. I remembered back to 2015 when we worked with Chicas Con Proposito in Dominical. I reached out to Jeanine, co-founder of the group and told her our circumstances and asked if she would be able to organize something in such short notice with her girls. Thankfully she was so eager to help. We were grateful.

My partner for this trip was Matthew, STSF extraordinaire. Before the trip he and I brainstormed potential sponsors for this epic adventure and ended up finding some great ones. We had Southern Coast Enterprises, Bruce Celinski and Brendan Leen. Southern Coast Enterprises are known for their craftsmanship in roofing and waterproofing with competitive prices and are based in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Bruce Celinski is a Fort Lauderdale architect that specializes in high-end custom homes and commercial projects for private clients and quality builders.  Brendan Leen is a local life guard based in Boca Raton who believes in our mission. With their support as well as Jetblue jumping on board with free transport of the surfboards,we were able to make a bunch of children happy.

Matthew and I arrived in Costa and spent a horrendous two hours getting through immigration and renting a car. After an hour drive we finally made it to some beautiful country scenery. Finally, I felt like I could relax. We arrived just at dark to Mavi Surf Hotel, which Jeanine had set us up at. They have been close friends and took complete care of us at their hotel. Mavi Surf Hotel is probably the cleanest hotel I have been in and I have spent a lot of time traveling and seeing lots of lodging options. They are also a short walk to open barrels galore.  Aside from the epic hotel…Max and Barbara (the owners) were so nice and wanted to make our stay amazing. Every request we had they would always come through. Max even shreds in the water and we got several sessions in together.IMG_7103IMG_7105

The second day in Costa we surfed in the morning and scored perfect offshore barrels with some size. We were so happy! After checking the swell charts and talking to the locals we decided to take our chances on Pavones since we had a few days before the event. We got there and surfed some overhead nuggets that had a little wind on it. The next morning we surfed Pavones sister and had so much fun.FullSizeRenderIMG_7140IMG_7158 I actually got my chancletas stolen on the beach and I was bummed until I really thought about it. I thought…jeez if you have to take someones shoes you probably really need them. I figured they needed them worse than me. I proceeded to go barefoot for the next four days until I borrowed Matthews for the flight home. Makes you appreciate shoes…especially if you have ginger feet like me.

The next few days we spent surfing and heading back to our beloved Mavi Hotel. Saturday came and we made our way over to Dominicalito for the project. We rolled up and soon after all the chicas started showing up. I recalled their faces from the last time we were with them. These girls are super timid and not very reluctant to give you their trust. I remembered some of their stories and understand why. After a bit they warmed up to us. IMG_7184IMG_7202IMG_7222 Next the girls hit the water. I really couldn’t believe how much they have improved. The girls are standing up on almost every wave. I saw a few of them paddle into the waves themselves and catch and ride them. That always makes us so happy. We ended up donating some of the boards to the chicas and then also finding a few boys to give them to. We actually went to their houses to find them and make the donations. It was pretty fun watching the reactions. One kid was super stoked just smiling ear to ear and one kid seemed like we just told him his cat died. The other donation went to a set of three brothers who couldn’t stop smiling. It was great.IMG_7395IMG_7428The next day we headed to the airport bright and early and made our way back to South Florida. Without the support of Jetbue, Southern Coast Enterprises, Bruce Celinski, Mavi Hotel, Dominical WaveRider and Brendan Leen we would not have been able to make the impact we did. Thanks to all of those generous supporters who help us keep stoking out children all over the globe.  Remember if you would like to help us keep kids off the street you can make a donation HERE.

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.

Marveling In Mexico

Hey folks! Because we got so much positive feedback from our blogging from our South Africa trip we are super inspired to get back to it. We hope you are excited too.

We just returned from another amazing stay in Mexico. Last year we did a big impact in San Agustin but this year we wanted to do something bigger, with more kids. This year we chose the bustling town of Puerto Escondido, home of the world famous Mexican Pipeline and the most famous Mexican surfer on the planet, Coco Nogales. Coco is a larger than life kind of guy, humble, has an enormous heart and a amazing childhood story who makes him the man he is today. Check out the Surfer Magazine article here.

As we were in South Africa I realized I hadn’t organized anyone to accompany me on the trip. We always have a minimum of two people on the trip to help transport the boards, film and help out where needed during our events. I started brainstorming and thought of Nicholas Mohnacky, founder of Surfr App, an app designed to log your surf sessions and highlight areas of social need. I asked him to accompany me and he quickly responded with a yes!

The beginning of our trip got started off on the wrong foot, so to speak. Since South Africa I had been planning around leaving for Mexico on Thursday the 7th. I had everything wired for the trip…get cash Wednesday, pack up the boards Wednesday and finish up last minute details Wednesday. When I woke up Wednesday morning at 6:15am I saw texts and calls from Nick. When I saw all of the pings my heart sunk. Before I called him I checked my ticket and quickly realized that I had the day wrong. I had missed the flight. I was devastated. This had never happened before and a sure sign that I have been juggling too many things. Nick made his way to Mexico without me while I changed tickets and car rental info so that he would be settled when he landed. I bought a new ticket to Mexico for the next day and went on with my day accordingly doing all the planning I had intended to do:)

The next morning I woke up to a text from Nicholas stating that he had misplaced the rental car key. Based on the previous days events, this was par for the course:) I was certain the key would turn up. More on that later.

After three plane rides and a shuttle later I had arrived in balmy, Puerto Escondido. I got my room for the night settled and threw the boardbags in the room and went out to the beach to see what the waves were doing and just like Puerto Escondido, it was doing it’s thing…it was pumping. Nick and I caught up, grabbed a bite to eat and contemplated the key situation hoping it would magically appear. After dinner I was exhausted from traveling and called it a day.

The next morn we woke up and grabbed a coffee and sat on the beach watching perfect cylinders roll through with riders tucked inside jumbo tubes.photo-105Last year when we were here it was pretty small so it was unreal seeing a tiny glimpse of what Puerto can do. After we finished the coffee we decided to get a locksmith (or some dude with a slim jim) and handle the car. We were hoping that the keys would be found in the car once we got in. We weren’t that lucky. The care project went on hold for a bit.

We ended up running into Coco and he drove us to his house where we would stay for the rest of the trip. We drove around running errands and finishing up the last minute details of the event. While we waited at the banner shop for the guy to finish we talked about the schedule for the event. First up was to have the AHAVA Project (the meaning of AHAVA is love and water) introduction at the Olas Altas Hotel at 5pm that night.

Finally it was time to meet the kids. We showed up and most of them were already there, eagerly awaiting kicking off the AHAVA Project. photo-117The event was started off by showing a little edit about Coco Nogales’ story. Coco had not yet arrived at this point. We showed a couple more short films of Coco surfing death defying waves. Just watching the films and the waves he would catch made my heart literally race. photo-118At last, Coco made his grand appearance and the kids were pumped to see this big-wave charger in their presence. Coco introduced himself and talked about the purpose of the event and how it will all shake out. We had 28 kids show up from various areas close to Puerto Escondido. Some from the point, some from Carizallilo and some from as far away as San Agustin, the place we impacted last year. Coco invited each kid to come up to the front of the room and tell everyone who they are, what age they are and where they are from. It was so cool to hear some of them be so loud and confident and then some kids who would barely look up and you could barely hear. After all the intro’s we all broke up and agreed to meet at the point at 7am the following day.

The next morning came super fast. Again, the kids were there and stoked when we arrived. We all walked over to the event area together and quickly got started.photo-106Coco had them all huddle up in a big arc so that they could all see and be seen. He talked mostly about what it takes in life to have what you want. For most of these kids it is to become a surf professional so all his talks were geared towards that and the discipline it takes to have that happen. The kids were intently listening.photo-107As I was standing watching I noticed two men walking up. Instantly I recognized one of them to be Bob Hurley, founder of the surfing lifestyle brand, Hurley. This was a very cool moment for many reasons but really neat because I had just watched a little edit on Surfline about Bob’s story and how his life unfolded. Check it out here( make sure to click the bottom called The Ripple Effect). It was also cool for him to be showing up at our event to get a glimpse of the good work we are doing. After I had seen the film about him I thought to myself what an amazing guy and amazing story! Bob and Coco have been friends for many years and Hurley has been one of Coco’s sponsors since the beginning. After all my excitement it was time for the kids to take a little break.

After the break Coco talked about physical fitness and the demands the waves can have on your body. For Coco it is imperative to be physically fit when tackling the monster waves he does. For him, training is constant and critical. He showed the kids some of the exercises that are optimal for surfing. They started out stretching and warming up the body before they went for a long run.photo-108 After the exercising the kids were sent out for a surf session with Coco to show off their skills. Some of them were very good surfers. Some had less experience. While all the surfing was going on all the boards had been driven to the beach. We secretly went while they were in the water so they wouldn’t see us bring the boards over. We wanted it to be a surprise that they would be receiving boards. After we got the boards brought over I paddled out to tell Coco we were all set. He motioned everyone in so we paddled in.

We had the kids form a line to help facilitate an easy process to get each kid their board, wax, hat and traction pad. I would watch as each kid was told to come up front, this big smile would appear on their faces. It was hard for them to hide the excitement of getting a new board. photo-109photo-110photo-111photo-112And what could be better than getting a new board? Surfing it! Coco took all the kids out again on their new boards. Some of them stayed on the inside while some of them paddled to the outside to catch the bombs. I was out in the water with them while they were shredding their new sticks. It was so cool! There was crazy energy in the water. When you are surrounded by kids who are pursuing the sport you love so much-there is no better moment because you know exactly what is possible if they stay off the streets and drugs and make surfing a priority. It will be endless gifts for them if they follow their surfing dreams.

We finished the day off by doing interviews with all the kids and then Coco and a few of the dads said a few words about how important this day was and how important surfing is. Boom! Just like that it was a wrap. All the kids filtered out and we took off to clean up before a big lunch. We also picked up a fresh, hot off the print, new key for our car since the rental company claimed they didn’t have a spare. Yep, we had to have a new key $printed$. At least the key drama was over. The rest of the day was spent over at La Punta surfing with Bob, Bob’s brother Bill, Coco and Nick. As I was sitting inside waiting for a wave I saw Nick go for a bigger one on the outside and have a nasty wipeout. I knew there were rocks over there but I didn’t think he was that close. I saw him paddling over and when he came close enough I could see a little blood on his face. Nothing major. He said he was gonna go in and assess the damage. I kept surfing. I thought for sure he would return and join me for more waves but he never did. When I walked up to the car I saw he had taken more of a nasty wipeout than I had thought. There was a big thrashing on his chest…didn’t look too good.photo-113

The rest of the trip went by fast. We spent it surfing, filming, eating and relaxing with Coco and his crew.IMG_3161photo 114 Our last lunch in Puerto was accompanied by none other that Bob Hurley and his brother Bill. It was an epic end to an epic trip. Thank you Mexico and Coco Nogales for always taking great care of us. And like every trip it was full of adventure, obstacles and pure stoke!photo 115 Next stop-Nicaragua!

Mi Amor, Nicaragua!

For years we have been making impacts in Nicaragua but never in this capacity and never in Northern Nicaragua.  Luckily, we got to meet up with Surf Sisters and Water Women, a Florida-based organization with the goal to share the love of Jesus Christ through surf outreach, mentoring, and pouring into the lives of younger women through role model leadership and relationship building. They are a great group of leaders and role models who love to give so it made this partnership perfect.  They had been traveling through Nicaragua for the past few weeks doing projects, surfing and enjoying life.  They met us at the airport and soon enough we were on our way to meet up with another amazing NGO called Waves of Hope. They are tied into the community in a beautiful way. Basically they chose Northern Nicaragua as home, came in and asked the community what they needed.  Waves of Hope made this their mission to give the locals what they need so that they become self-sufficient. The leaders of this organization are some of the most inspiring people we have met in our travels. 

We didn’t waste any time with getting started with our impact days.  ImageJamie Collum, Waves of Hope leader, and the gang decided that the best way to impact the community with surfboards was to let the older guys compete for the surfboards since none of the little kids were surfing yet.  ImageFor their entry into the competition the guys volunteered their time to teach the little ones how to surf and take them out and get waves.Image  ImageIt was pretty awesome seeing how much the guys lit up and seemed to really love sharing their knowledge with the little ones.  Sometimes they would ride tandem with the kids.  It was pretty impressive.  ImageThe day was a huge success with over 30 kids getting to have some fun on the boards.  After the morning we were stoked! Image Our crew had enough time to get some waves in at sunset then rest up for the big competition on Sunday. 

 The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn.  All the kids were meeting us at the camp at 6am for the competition.  We had a pretty great turnout.  We had 19 competitors of which two of them were young women.  We got to walk down the beach to the competition site with them.  ImageThey were so serious as if this day was a big deal AND it was!  We decided to give six of the ten surfboards to the kids who placed best in the competition.  We agreed the other boards would be used as a library system.  The only catch was that the kids had to be in school to get to use the boards.  We devised an incentive program where the teachers would nominate which kids would be able to use the boards based on their participation in school.  We were so stoked on the idea of using surfing as a means for kids to stay in school.

To add more excitement and to show what was on the line, we laid out some of the boards on the beach for them to see.  ImageThey would all walk by and smile and chatter  with each other.  Some would pick up a board and tuck it under their arm.  I assume imagining what it would feel like to have a brand new board just for them.  Rumor has it that none of these guys have ever had brand new boards.  They mostly get boards that people throw away because they are broken. Image For these guys to get a new board is unheard of.  We were stoked to give them this gift.  Finally, the heats were set and it was about go time.  All the boys were so serious and in the zone.  There was a lot on the line.  STSF founder, Kelly Kingston, a local man named Arman and professional surfer Holly Beck were the judges.  ImageThe competition was stiff.  There were some good surfers and there were some beginners.  Surfing has only been happening in this area for about three years so there were some boys who were pretty shaky on their feet.  There were also some serious rippers. After all the heats were done it was time for the finals.  It was a tight heat and the judges had their hands full scoring the waves.  The buzzer sounded and it was over.  Jamie tallied the numbers and we had our winners of the brand new Firewires.  We all marched back to the camp and the competitors got a nice breakfast and got to enjoy the pool.  ImageWe lined up all the boards and decided to let first place get the first pick of which board he wanted and second would go next etc. Image After all the guys chose their weapons the other boards that no one picked were to be for the library.  One of the boards we had on this trip was a Tomo Vanguard model which is a UFO-like surfboard.  It is a wild shape that is cutting edge and looks like some of the boards the kids were riding that had their noses broken off of.  It is not really a learner board so we decided to give it to the 7th place boy.  It just so happened that he is a ripper and already doing some airs so we thought it was perfect.  He was so excited when he found out he was getting a board.  He almost cried and we were all so stoked because we know how ridiculously cool the Tomo board is.  It was an awesome celebration.  The guys were so happy. ImageImage They just kept coming up to us thanking us and telling us how nice it was to pick their community and bring surfboards to.  We were definitely feeling the love.  And we are definitely coming back again next year. Image The next day we all ventured over to a town called Chichigalpa where we went to work at a non-profit for the day.  Aaron Moreno, our AMAZING videographer and stoke sharer, had helped several years ago build a bakery at New Song Mission and wanted to take us there so he could get some interviews and see all the improvements since his last visit.  After the hour and a half ride over we rolled up to this amazing place that looks after the community.  All the people went absolutely nuts seeing Aaron and it was so beautiful to see.  The next morning we woke up super early and got out in the fields to start work before it got too hot.  ImageWe were planting Moringa trees which have a healing effect on people and is said to be a “super super food”.  We tilled the dirt, dug the holes and planted 75 trees.  ImageIt was brutal work out in the hot sun and it almost killed some of us but we were stoked to help them get the trees in the ground.  ImageAfter the showers we had some lunch, ventured into town and then said our goodbyes.  We were heading back to the surf camp to see our new friends again.  We arrived at dinner and when we walked up we got the biggest welcome back.  We were at home and it felt great.  We decided because it was a full moon to try some night surfing that evening which was super fun and really a neat way to experience the waves.  The rest of our trip was pretty much a blur except for a boat trip we got to take with two of the boys that got boards.  We went out to this really fun wave and got to see the guys shredding on their new boards.  ImageImageThey were so happy and so were we.  The waves were pumping, the girls were shredding and the locals were killing it on the Firewires.  This was the best way to end our trip.  We said farewell to our family at the camp and we were off to the airport.  We made our way back to Manaugua and shared a tearful goodbye with the surf sisters who are staying in Nicaragua for four more days.  For the rest of us, we are Cuba bound in a day.  Stoked!