On June 22nd a trailer full of colorful surfboards pulled up to North Croatan Surfing Area along the shores of Virginia Beach. Instructors from the Wes Laine Surf Camp began unloading the boards on the sand in anticipation for the one-day SheJumps surf camp.
Around 50 girls and women signed in, received their swag bag, and patiently waited for the lesson to begin.
The instruction began on the sandy beach where participants were first taught about ocean safety and etiquette. On land they then learned step-by-step instruction on how to paddle, sit up and then stand on the board. The real challenge was doing the same in the ocean.
Under the helpful guidance from the instructors of the Wes Laine Surf Camp, everyone was able to paddle out and catch multiples waves. Smiles and stoke were the currency for the day.
Holly Carson and her daughter Sydney have continued to come back to the surf camp for years now. “We always have the best time and we’ll never forget the experiences. Sydney and I both caught a lot of waves and were exhausted by the end,” said Holly. “It’s also really empowering and wonderful for Sydney to be around a group of adventurous women. We will join every year our schedule allows - it makes a difficult sport really fun!”
Along with the surf instruction, the event included a beach picnic with the local restaurant TASTE, who generously delivered their gourmet box lunches to the beach. During this time a raffle took place, which is one of the largest contributors to fundraising for this region. Prizes included sweet gear from both national and local business partners. This year SheJumps raffled off 35 prizes totaling to over $2500 - it included a $250 Big Agnes sleeping bag and two $150 Carve Designs gift certificates. The raffle helps SheJumps continue to bring stellar events, like this surf camp, to the community!
Kelly Drewnowski, Southeast Region Director, is the brains behind this SheJumps surf event.
It was in 2014 that Kelly first became an ambassador for SheJumps after discovering the signature #SheJumps hashtag while searching through photos of women skiing big mountains. At the time, the presence of SheJumps in the southeast was small despite including ten different states. One woman, Cristy Watson, coordinated the entire region.
Luckily this is no longer the case - in the past five years the region has grown exceptionally in terms of events, volunteers, and participants. Kelly, as the Southeast Region Director, now has sixteen people on the team.
In 2015 Kelly organized and coordinated the region’s first ever surf event at the North Croatan Surfing Area in Virginia Beach. The first event was essentially run as a three-woman show headed by Kelly. She was able to organize sponsors, reach out to Wes Laine Surf camp for instructors and boards and wrangle together the swag bags by herself. The grassroots fundraiser turned out to be extremely successful - about twenty women and girls participated and learned to surf.
The stoke has only continued to grow in 2017, 2018 and especially in 2019.
For the 2019 camp there were eight team members from all over the southeast and beyond who came together to help this event. Sarah Boisen, the regional coordinator in Maryland even drove hundreds of miles with two friends to help run the event. “It’s really special to see the team come together, bond and be able to put on this event,” said Kelly. “It’s such a huge event we spend weeks preparing for, it’s the largest fundraiser for the Southeast.”
This year, the event successfully got 50 participants to surf, which Kelly says is, “by far out largest event yet, with close to 70 plus people around in general.”
Age was not a factor in learning how to surf. “There was a huge mix of people,” said Kelly. “There were women in their 40s who brought their daughters. Women in their 20s and 30s who joined on their own and even women in their late 50s who bring a friend!” SheJumps also welcomed women and girls of all ages and surfing ability levels including transgender, cisgender and non-binary folks who identify with the women’s community.
The event partner, Carve Designs, is an outdoor apparel company by women for women. “The fact that we can be part of someone’s first introduction or early stages of surfing means the world to us,” said Lina Adams, Brand Manager of Carve Designs. “We hope to inspire other women to believe in themselves, get after and to know that it is never too early or late to start something new!”
Photos by Wallace Photography