Passion In Peru

All I can say is wow! Peru gets better every time we go there. Our trip included Gabriel Mccorry, the original intern for STSF, Matthew DeMayo who has been on several trips now with us and Carlhey Bolz, the Peace Corp volunteer who helped start the Chicama Girls Surf Team.

We arrived in Peru after a 2am flight with a connection through Lima. I was so excited to show some new people a place that I have come to love. I was also very excited to get to wear a wetsuit, a jacket and real shoes. The Florida heat gets old!

The drive to Chicama is pretty surreal. The anticipation of getting to the iconic wave is almost unbearable. I spend the entire drive wondering what it will look like as soon as we come up the hill and get our first peek of the ocean. That, coupled with scenery you might find on the moon, you stay pretty entertained.IMG_7939.JPG

Our first day was spent surfing then getting a massive and warm welcome by the Chicama Girls Surf Team. In 2013 we helped start a girls surf team for some of the chicas who we thought might be interested in learning to surf. Since then they have grown by leaps and bounds. They started out getting pushed into waves and now they can all catch waves on their own. They are also super unified and look after each other and the team. They are truly an inspiration to us.FullSizeRender.jpg

Saturday was the first day of our event. We were told to cut the event off at 100 kids because we couldn’t feed more than 100. I always hope the kids turn up and get really nervous before the event. We had the girls surf team there to help us and take a leadership role in helping us execute a killer day for the kids. IMG_7949We ended up cutting it off with 105 kids. I was blown away! We put them into bigger groups and led a massive beach cleanup. I am always surprised at how hard these kids work and how much trash they pickup. They just keep coming back for new bags until they are all gone. It is so cool. IMG_7963.JPGAfter the cleanup we had all the kids circle up for surf lessons. This is the part of the day that usually takes the longest with the number of kids we work with.   All of the kids were so stoked to get their waves.IMG_7976.JPG The smiles were endless and we were pumped for them. Soon after the kids chowed down on some tasty BBQ. As they got their food the girls surf team passed out the swag we had gotten donated from local companies by us in Florida. This trip we had donations from Camila Swimwear, Corey Hudson, Casual Starfish, Ron Jon Surf School, Blue Water School of Surfing and Grom Social. It was a great day.

Usually on the Sunday of our trip we put on a surf contest for the kids who are surfing pretty well. This time around we had about 50 kids come to compete. Each division winner would receive a new Firewire Surfboard with FCS gear and Sticky Bumps wax. It took us about seven hours to get it done but by the end we had the three surfboard winners and all the runners up. The kids were so happy to win boards and we were happy to give them away.IMG_8119.JPG

Our Monday turned out to be an epic day for great reason. We had decided that we wanted to do something special for the girls surf team so we decided to take them on a field trip to surf a new break and then to take them to Huaca El Brujo, an archaeological site built by the Moche sometime between AD 1 and 600.

We told them to be at our hotel at 630am for a 7am departure. This was certainly not the day to be running on Peruvian time (usually an hour late).   As soon as they came, the bus came for all of us and we started packing the boards in which ended up taking quite a while to get them organized well enough to fit 10 people. IMG_8148.JPGOn the way to Huanchaco we all played music and sang in anticipation. To get to Huanchaco it took us an hour. None of the girls we brought had ever been here which seems odd to us Americans being that it is only an hour away. This made the trip that much cooler and meaningful for them.

After we arrived we unpacked the bus and got all our gear ready for our surf session. There were some overhead sets for sure and some of the girls were intimidated but they all paddled out into the waves. Only a few of the girls made it out back for the set waves. Since most of them stayed inside I paddled in to be with them while Matthew was out there with Gabby, one of the top surfers on the team. At one point I got out and was walking up the beach when I looked out the back and saw Gabby on seriously the wave of the day. It was well over her head and she was high-lining down the face. I was blown away. I was so proud of her. It was like seeing my own kid catch a wave like that. I felt like my heart was going to explode!

After our sesh we took them to lunch. It was really fun interacting and getting to spend quality time with them. We all ate chicken plates and lomo saltado, a Peruvian dish that I had many times.IMG_8187.JPG Soon enough we headed to El Brujo to check out the ruins. The part about this leg of our field trip that was so cool was because the girls got to see the actual mummy of Seniora de Cao, a high-ranking ruler of the Chicama district that was found only 10 years ago. She was discovered wrapped in many layers of cloth, highly tattooed, found with ceremonial items as well as weapons and jewelry. I think for young girls to see that women are leaders, especially in the Chicama district, must give them a sense of confidence and pride.   To be there to witness this day was and will be a memory that I will hold on to for a lifetime. What a gift it is to be able to give the girls our time and love. I am honored!IMG_8164IMG_8198IMG_8203IMG_8217IMG_8232IMG_8245

The rest of the trip we were able to donate the rest of the surfboards for a total of 12, surf, relax, eat some rally good food and have a sad goodbye with our friends at Chicama. It was an amazing time and it is more clear now than ever that we need to keep coming back to Chicama. Our work there has been great but we are not done and the girls need someone to count on and we can do that for them. We are blessed to receive their love!

 

 

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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 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!

Coming In Hot On The Equator

For us, traveling to a new place is so exciting. Ecuador was a country we have thought a long time about until we got an email from a local woman named Patricia White telling us about their cozy little town and the great kids she works with. Patricia is owner of Betty Surf & Yoga School, a local business aimed to offer just that…yoga and surf. She invited us out to be a part of their weeklong surf/yoga program with some of their amazing youth. After a few emails back and forth we came up with a game plan and I booked some tickets.

I didn’t know much about Ecuador aside from it being so close to the Galapagos. I did a quick search on Google to get some facts and the more I read the more excited I got. Soon the day came and Jeff Biege and I packed up the surfboards and boarded a plane. Jeff is a local photographer and friend of about 12 years. I met him soon after I moved to Florida and loved his chill vibe. It also never hurts to have a great photographer on a stoke mission with you that can take photos like this. 12977228_1044885428917243_5219085577963654763_o
The first day we spent most of the day traveling to get to Canoa, which was a five-hour drive from Guaycil where we flew into. As soon as we got our first glimpse of the ocean we could see there was plenty of swell and no wind. We were amping. We got to the hotel just in time to get about a 45 minute long surf sesh which was the best way to wash off the stress of traveling. We waxed up and put the fins on and bolted for the ocean. Jeff took off on a fast sprint to the waves. Usually it is me who is frothing so hard to get in. It was nice to feed off someone else’s stoke.LJ9A0141Photo by Jeff Biege

The next day we got to meet up with the kids and all of the amazing volunteers for the youth camp and practiced some yoga. I got the sense it was hard for the kids to keep their focus during yoga knowing that in an hour or so they were going to go shred.FullSizeRender
Soon enough we were all suiting up and going for that surf together. We broke up into two distinct groups: the ones who were already shredding and the ones who will be shredding soon. In situations like these the kids are always pushing themselves and going for it in order to impress us. It is so cool to see. That night we had a little outdoor movie night party with them where some of the locals made treats for the group.LJ9A0118Photo by Jeff Biege

Over the next couple of days we surfed, practiced yoga with the kids and drank a lot of coconuts.FullSizeRender_1
Our last day there we had organized the surfboard giveaway. Patricia and the crew decided which kids would receive the boards based on their attitude, who shows the most interest in surfing and who will be able to use them the most. As the kids were showing up you could feel their excitement. Even though we didn’t tell them they were getting surfboards I think they knew something cool was going to happen. And it did! We were able to give six kids a surfboard, fins, leash and wax to help them follow their dreams of surfing.FullSizeRender_3

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FullSizeRender_5 I think the kids tried holding back their excitement during the handover but once I was out in the water with them they were absolutely freaking out.LJ9A7770Photo by Jeff Biege

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Valerie, one of the girls who got a board was telling me how much she loved it and she was giving the board kisses. Each kid I asked if they liked the board just smiled from ear to ear saying yes I love it. I was stoked! If the kids are happy we are happy.LJ9A0229Photo by Jeff Biege

Later that night the volunteer crew met up for dinner and drinks. We all laughed and carried on knowing that what we had done was give the kids some confidence by giving them the gift of surf.12961159_10208009101398825_7004327737198423926_o There is a freedom in having your own surfboard and not being limited to when you can borrow or rent one.LJ9A7795Photo by Jeff Biege

Later that night Jeff and I traveled the five hours back to the airport, waited in line to check in for our flight for two hours (that was loco) and took the red eye home. This was a great trip. I don’t always feel sad leaving but this time I did. I really bonded with the crew and had such a fun time sharing their little slice of paradise.

Portugal Stoke Mission–Part 2 of 3

This blog is written by Joan Bergmans, STSF extraordinaire

The collaboration between Share the Stoke Foundation and Projecto Surf.Art was a match made in surf heaven. When we met face to face with Paulo, Nuno and our little surfers Nelson, Beatriz and Leticia we knew our day was going to be a very special one.
Nelson, Beatriz and Leticia were selected to go on a surprise trip due to their great results in school. We felt proud to be on their side and stoking them out with surf, love and smiles. The first part of the day gave them a little peek into the professional world of surfing during the WSL Moche Rip Curl Pro in Peniche, Portugal.12191468_1190715920944095_213347665140779623_nPhoto by Kim Hanskamp

Seeing a competition site for the first time and seeing worlds best cruising down the line and flying through the air was the perfect start to an unforgettable day. After the WSL competition and a delicious lunch we headed down to the campsite to get ready to surf.12143078_1190715824277438_4920484389874751358_nPhoto by Kim Hanskamp

In full excitement we crossed Peniche’s white sandy dunes to discover clean perfect barrels and ideal teaching conditions. We ran down to the beach to start our warm up.Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 2.07.59 PMPhoto by Kim Hanskamp

Nelson, Beatriz and Leticia knew exactly how to do a proper surf warm-up and before we knew it we could take them out into the surf on their brand new Firewire surfboards. The connection between them, Paulo and Nuno was heartwarming, pure and inspirational.12190830_1190715644277456_1897338412594145525_nPhoto by Kim Hanskamp

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Nelson, Beatriz and Leticia learned how to surf by being part of Projeto Surf.Art, a social entrepreneurship initiative founded by Paulo Canas and Nuno Fazenda from Pressley Ridge, a non-profit organization. They help young unprivileged kids to develop themselves mentally and physically through surfing. The kids are guided carefully and monitored in their development. To make it understandable to the kids they use five principles by using their own fingers. Safety, commitment, respect, responsibility/accountability and fun. These five principles return weekly in their activities on the beach and in the water. It proved to be a very successful method and we loved to see that everything they do at Projecto SurfArt has been well thought through to create the best learning ground for these young surfers.

We continued our day and with huge smiles on our faces. They kept on surfing wave after wave filling our souls with laughter and pure joy. We finished our surf session and built a big sand castle decorated with ocean treasures we had found on the beach.12187875_1190715510944136_8857508425175329728_nPhoto by Kim Hanskamp

All happy and satisfied we left the beach to shower of our salty faces and sandy toes. Warmed up and dressed we decided to finish the day with some gifts for Projeto Surf.Art. We were able to donate six Firewire Surfboards and three East Coast Customs skateboards. They got very excited and their last energy was spent on a skate class with our Share the Stoke Team. The skateboards were a big hit and will be used to train for surfing as well.39Photo by Kim Hanskamp

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Tired but extremely happy we said goodbye to our new friends. Nothing beats the endless smile on a kids face while being connected to our gorgeous ocean. We thank all who made this happen and we will continue to share the stoke here, there and everywhere around the world!905916_1190715957610758_21484869675435396_oPhoto by Kim Hanskamp

Pumped Up For Peru

This blog is written by Kelly Kingston, STSF Founder

This was such a busy trip that it has taken me a week to recover and get this thing going. This trip kind of started off on the wrong foot…you could say. Two weeks before the trip my buddy and travel partner for this trip, Missy, also a Jetblue employee, called to tell me that Jetblue doesn’t allow surfboards to and from Lima now. At first I thought no way so I did the researching and calling and found this information to be true. For you surfers out there…they also don’t allow them to Haiti and some places in the D.R. Needless to say I was pretty devastated by this fact. Now with the new information I saw only three choices. 1. Ship the boards directly to Peru and keep the same flights. 2. Buy new tickets on another airline and take the boards OR 3. Just say screw the kids in Peru and go and do the events we have planned but without making our usual donation to the surf clubs. Of course option three was out so I crunched the numbers of two airline tickets and three board bags which came out to be around $2,200 so I decided to ship them.

I was excited to hear that the boards had arrived and that my guy was going to pick them up. I was relieved…until I got a message from him saying that we owe $1,800 in order for them to release the boards. My original thought was no way, there must be some kind of huge mistake. We were confident that we could talk to the officials and tell them the boards were to be donated and they would free them up. This didn’t happen. We have now been in communication with an NGO about the possibility of them helping us get them out at a drastically reduced rate. This has been going on now for two weeks. My hope was that we would be able to get them out in time to donate them to the kids while we were there. I know when we do get them there will be a big celebration here and in Peru as well. Once I let go of the results of what would happen I was able to become present and be with the kids in Peru whole-heartedly.

So my travel companions were Logan Kamen and Missy Diamond, both very impactful humans for the foundation and the kids we work with. We all met at the Fort Lauderdale airport and then headed off to Lima where we would sleep on the floor that evening before our 6 am flight to Trujillo. We had all been to Chicama before so we were all excited to see our friends and catch up with what has been going on with the kids. Eventually we made our way to Puerto Malabrigo and as soon as we could see the beach those picture perfect lefts kept on coming one after the other.IMG_7461 We were stoked to say the least. We grabbed some coffee and then paddled out for a sesh. Sets were a little over head high which was perfect for Chicama. This place really is hard to wrap your brain around. You can get rides that are literally two and a half minutes long.

That night we had a meeting at 7pm with the Chicama Surf Team. We were excited to see the girls and meet the new chicas they had recruited. First, we met Reesy, a Peace Corp volunteer who would be helping us make the event happen. She came highly recommended by Carlhey Bolz, the heart and soul and creator of the Chicama Surf Team. When we rolled up the girls had created the best welcome ever. Each chica held up a letter for their welcome sign.IMG_7044 I have never felt so much love and knew for a fact right then and there that the work we are doing there really matters. When we continue to keep showing up for these girls they know they matter and they mean something to us.

Our meeting with them was to chat with them about having them be a large part of executing our event that weekend for all the local kids. We wanted to empower them by having them take ownership and play vital roles in it.IMG_7056 We all divied up tasks for everyone and decided for Saturday’s events that the chicas would be in charge of the beach cleanup by passing out the bags and escorting groups of children down the beach to help facilitate picking up proper garbage as opposed to things that are natural. We also decided that they would help out with the surf lessons when it came time for that.

After the meeting we were exhausted. I was up waaay past my bedtime. Now that I have a 9 month old I make sure I go to bed early so I can party with her at 6 am☺ The next morning we had set up a surf session with the girls so we met them down at “El Hombre”, a section of the point break known for its super fast section and hollowness. When we got there they were all down on the beach stretching. We joined them and then paddled out.IMG_7086IMG_7115 We were stoked to see that the girls had improved. Each time we come they get better and better. This is no surprise because now the team is meeting three days a week for practice. After shredding we headed back to the hotel to get geared up for the beach cleanup and surf lessons.

In the past we have had 75-100 kids show up for our event, which is definitely one of our biggest events of the year. Before we knew it there were 85 kids running around waiting for directions for the cleanup. IMG_7173We kicked it off and the girls were awesome little leaders. All the kids worked so hard and picked up so much trash. The work ethic of these little groms was something for us to take note of.IMG_7184

IMG_7193 After about an hour we started circling all the kids up for the surf lessons. A circle of 85 kids is a giant circle.IMG_7200 Luis, coach of the Chicama Girls Surf Team led the instruction. It is pretty funny to watch all the kids pop up at once. Soon enough we had five instructors in the water, the Chicama Girls Surf Team instructing the surfers when and which instructor to go to. Each kid got three waves then the next kid would go. I think it probably took two hours to get all the kids surfing, including a few of them going more than once. After the lessons were done we all headed up the hill to Zorro’s place for the epic BBQ for our participants and volunteers.IMG_7205

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IMG_7212 After everyone got their food we got ours and holy moly was it delicious. Later that night all the surf school coaches met and formed the heats for the contest the following day. By the time we finished it was 10pm.

The next morning we met over at a beached boat down by the contest site. Part of our impact with the girls was to have an art project with them and create a piece that they would be proud of. Gabriela, one of the girls on the team, had made a present for me that was a super cool image she drew of the Chicama Point.IMG_7051 I was stoked to receive it and even more stoked that it would be going on the boat!! We prepped the boat by covering up a section with white paint. You would think that would be easy but sometimes in other countries they use other means than what we are used to. In Peru the paint comes in bags. So we had to mix it in a bucket with water to dilute it then spread it on. Eventually the boys painted the boat with their hands because the paint roller was taking off sections of wood off the old boat. It was a pretty messy gig.IMG_7325

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We finished up and headed back to the hotel to sort out the prizes for the contest. Grom Social really pulled through and ended up donating enough gear for us to stoke out all the kids. There were a bunch of other folks who also sent us with cool gear for the groms. Thank you!

I knew this event was going to be crazy. There were so many things we were trying to accomplish while the event was going on like motivational talks with the girls and getting the painting finished. The contest had four divisions, two boys and two girls. All of the participants had to be part of one of the three surf schools in order to compete, which was different and cool too because all of the kids were super supportive of each other. The feeling for the day was team work for sure.

Reesy and I were in charge of heats while Logan, Angel (Reesy’s boyfriend) and Missy were part of the judges corner. Reesy and I killed it getting all the groms ready with their jerseys on while the other heat was in the water. We were like a well oiled machine but there is no way we could have pulled this event off without her. She is an epic human!

When all of the girl heats were over we decided to facilitate the motivational talks for the girls. First off, we awarded two of the girls framed plaques acknowledging them for their improving skills in the water as well as being with the team since its inception since 2013. I said a few words to them before presenting them.IMG_7381 They seemed stoked for sure. Sometimes it is hard to tell if they are excited because their culture it to be humble and I find they show very little emotion. One of the other things I wanted to relay to them was something that I never received as a kid, which was that no one told me that I could be anything I wanted or that I could go anywhere or do anything. I grew up in a small mindset kind of family who never saw very far past what was right in front of us. Fortunately, for me along the way I found confidence that I could go anywhere and do anything. So I told the girls how proud I was of them and that they can be anyone they choose and that they can go anywhere they just have to have a passion and a desire.IMG_7430 They looked at me straight faced. I hope that they really heard my words.

Reesy took over the talk about how we portray ourselves and self confidence while I headed back over to the contest to get the next heat going. One of the biggest bummers about this talk was that some of the girls from the other surf teams declined our invitation to sit in on the talks. Initially there was only the Chicama Girls Surf Team. Then for whatever reason some of the girls decided to go off and be part of new surf teams. There are lots of politics within each of the surf teams there, which I find to be silly. All I can think is gosh it is surfing…why can’t we just all get along, but I suppose life outside of surfing is like this as well. So because of politics, the other girls missed something that could have benefitted them, which is a total bummer.

After the chats the chicas took to the painting of the boat and by dark it was finished just at last light.FullSizeRender The contest too finished just as the sun had sunk. We literally did the awards while the light from the sun was turning to black.IMG_7416 All in all it was a great day. We packed in so much into this one day. The best part of the events were all of the families that came down to the beach and hung out all day watching the kids surf.IMG_7398 These are people that turn their backs to the ocean except for these two days a year that we put on the event. One of our core values are community and this weekend we created community through surfing. What could be better?

The rest of the trip was spent surfing and spending time with the surf team. Missy had the cool idea to meet with them over dinner and talk about pearls and how each one is formed over time, rare and very precious…like them! She had brought some pearls, string and clasps and we all spent the evening talking about how each one of us is important and creating cool necklaces for ourselves and anyone else we wanted to give one to. It was so much fun hanging with them.IMG_7443

IMG_7445 Our other highlight other than riding epic waves together happened about 20 minutes before it was time for us to leave.11986534_967479016650410_254926263393084897_n

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One of the security guards at Chicama came to get us and tell us some of the girls were there to see us. I was stoked because I had thought we had said out last goodbyes the night before☺ Yaricsa, Luis and David showed up. Yaricsa is one of the new recruits who we had just gotten to know. She had some gifts for us. She gave each one of a special gift. I got an epic piece of art with a long heart-felt writing about what surfing has given her so far.IMG_7682 I was so touched that she took the time to create something so epic for me. She also gave some gifts that Belen, another one of the new girls, had sent with her to give. My gift was another piece of art. It was a surfer on a wave. I made up in my mind that it was me surfing. I loved it.IMG_7622 Then Randa showed up with gifts too. I got a cool feather earring which I put in right away as well as a stuffed animal that said Te Amo ( I love you) on it. I knew instantly of the perfect 9 month old who was going to love it.IMG_7689 Then Luis gave us his gifts. It was an epic goodbye. We all hugged and I told them all that I loved them. We all packed up the van and said goodbye to all the Chicama staff. Soon enough we were headed out. On the way I saw Randa and David sitting on a bench. I frantically waved and felt this sadness. A sadness that only came from the epic goodbye we just had and knowing how important we are to them and them to us. A little farther down the road on the way out-of-town I saw Luis on a motorcycle with Yaricsa on the back. Again, I was waving frantically and putting my hand up to the window trying to send a message that said my heart is full and it is all because of you.IMG_7524 They kept getting closer and closer and honking and finally our driver pulled over and Yaricsa pulls out one last stuffed animal for Missy.IMG_7510 This was by far the most eventful goodbye we have ever seen. It was that moment when I realized how significant they are to me. Thank you Chicama for providing a love that is unique and keeps on getting stronger with time.