Article and photos by Kelly Drewnowski, Southeast Region Director
On a bright, sunny Saturday in June, more than 35 women and young girls from five states gathered on the sands of the North Croatan Surfing Area in Virginia Beach, Virginia to partake in a one-day surf camp with the goal of learning a new sport in a fun, supportive environment.
The weather could not have been better that morning as the participants checked in and received their swag bags (reusable grocery bags for the adults and backpacks for the girls) loaded with sunscreen, lip balm, coffee, koozies, surf camp t-shirts, stickers, wipes, and more, all donated by our great local and national partners.
Once everyone was aquatinted, it was time to start the onshore portion of camp. Lead Instructor, Wes Laine, a former top 10 ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Tour competitor, shared his surfing knowledge and experience while going over proper surf etiquette and ocean safety with the group.
Wes and his staff taught step-by-step instructions on how to paddle and pop-up at the right time on the board.
They also made sure everyone knew where to place each foot for the best balance and maneuverability.
After a few demonstrations and selecting the proper length boards, the ladies split out into smaller groups with the instructors for more hands on learning.
Then it was time to practice paddling and popping up on land before taking it to the sea.
The instructors worked together to make sure all of the participants knew what they were doing and ensured they were well prepared before getting into the water.
After some dry land exercises the ladies were ready to drag their boards out and test their new knowledge in the waves.
The coaches were great about making sure the younger participants understood how to float the surfboards out perpendicular to the shore so the waves wouldn’t push the boards back into them.
Friends old and new supported one another as they took on the challenge of learning to surf together.
Some of the younger ladies even got a few free rides out past the breakers.
Frequently the smiles were larger than the waves they were riding!
Such a cool sight as the ocean was full of SheJumpers and several were starting to get the hang of it!
It was great to see everyone smiling and cheering each other on, even though many had just met.
At some point everyone fell off…
but more importantly, they each got back up…
and were still smiling!
Wes and his staff were patient, encouraging, and awesome as they helped everyone to experience the thrill of surfing.
It wasn’t long before the ladies were riding waves and loving it.
Wes again lived up to his promise of getting everyone surfing by the end of the day!
For some, there might not have been as much coaching necessary, but they still had a blast catching waves in an all female surf session!
Wes and his staff did a fantastic job of instructing and keeping everyone safe and smiling while they learned to surf in this awesome, supportive environment.
Although many were exhausted after several hours of wave riding, they still were grinning as they started to trickle back onto shore to rest and refuel.
After participants enjoyed delicious boxed lunches delivered from Taste Unlimited, the drawing for lots of awesome raffle prizes was held to raise money to support future SheJumps events.