In a history-making moment this past July, 19 surfers departed the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia to bring one of the most freeing experiences known to man – surfing – to the most closed nation on earth: The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (a.k.a. North Korea). Each person returned with incredible stories about a country that very few foreigners have experienced.
The main purpose of the trip was to lead two surf camps, showing the North Koreans how to enjoy their coastline with the sport of wave riding. The students were 10 tour guides from the country’s official tour group, Korean International Travel Company (KITC). Along with the surf camps, the team spent a total of 10 days within the DPRK touring the capital, Pyongyang, visiting museums and experiencing various exhibitions of North Korean culture.
Julie Nelson, staff member at STN and one of the first women to surf the shores of North Korea, planned and led the surf camps along with co-worker Ryley Snyder. “It was surreal,” explained Julie, “I grew up watching films like The Endless Summer but it’s crazy to think that such isolated places like those in the film still exist today!” Even though the concept of surfing was completely new to the North Koreans, they met the new sport with a strong enthusiasm. “People were so excited to surf that they even tired us out!” Ryley said.
At the end of the surf camps the team held an awards ceremony, in which each instructor affirmed and acknowledged their KITC pupils and then gave them each a chance to speak about their experience. “I specifically remember three of the people who shared,” long-term staff member Robert McDaniel said. “The man I taught to surf was probably the best surfer of the group. He stood up the most and was the most active. I remember pushing him on a wave and thinking that if the one reason I came to North Korea was for this one wave, then it was enough. At the awards ceremony he stood up and told us, ‘Surfing is my best friend.’ Among the other participants, was a man who shared that he believes surfing is bringing peace between Korea and America. Another KITC surf pupil shared, ‘Surfing has made me brave. Before this I didn’t want to try things…I was afraid. Now I want to try new things.’”
Of course, everyone wants to know what the surf was like in North Korea! For two of the surf days the coast was like a lake, but on the third day an offshore typhoon generated a little swell, perfect for beginning surfers. The final day, consistent, glassy, overhead sets came in. The STN team had an amazing session all to themselves, and their students were treated to a show of the best surfing they’d ever seen. The locals of the Majon area named the surf spot “Pioneers”.
Robert, who has served on STN’s international department and been on most of STN’s international surf trips, said that in comparison to all his travels, nothing was quite like North Korea. “This was the first time seeing surfing enter a country. Being able to witness the first moments of a nation’s surf history was incredible. People know Hawaii as the first place that was surfed, and you just wonder, could North Korea be known as one of the last?’’
STN is hoping that this is not the last time they’ll be in North Korea, and with the stoke already spreading in the country, there is sure to be a demand for more boards besides the 13 they already left behind on this trip, knowledge and instruction in the future. STN is excited to see North Koreans gain a love for the water in their own country, and become, like the surf spot, ‘Pioneers’ for the surf culture of North Korea.
The Surf Camp
And when the surf picked up…
Any new finds on Amazon? Getting your Christmas shopping started early?
Now, one of the easiest ways for you to shop, has also become an easy way to give with AmazonSmile! You can choose to donate to Surfing the Nations at no added cost to your transaction. 0.5% of the price of eligible products will be donated directly to us when you’re ready to check out.
Here’s how it works:
- Go to smile.amazon.com,
- Sign in with your Amazon account
- Select “Surfing the Nations” as your charitable organization.
Eligible products that you are purchasing will be marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation.” It’s a simple way to give back while promoting guilt free shopping!
Mahalo for your future investment in Surfing the Nations!
*”Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation and are not tax deductible by you.”
Aiming to take our commitment of character and leadership building to the next level, Surfing The Nations is excited to add a new leadership training program to its roster: S.A.L.T. – Sailing Adventure Leadership Training!
This program gives senior STN staff and volunteers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to set sail around various Hawaiian Islands on a 96-foot sailboat, SSV Makani Olu, for one week. STN will partner up with The Marimed Foundation for this incredible excursion. Marimed was established in 1984 and delivers ocean and land-based learning experiences that empower youth, adults and families and strengthen communities (http://marimed.org/ ). Not only will the adventure develop skills in teamwork, decision making and adaptability, but STN staff will fully crew the ship: flexing their leadership skills by managing and operating the vessel over a continuous period, day and night, in some of the most intense ocean settings.
The trip will be an experience in what it means to be a true waterman. It will draw on each staff member’s endurance – mental and physical – and teamwork skills to achieve the team’s goals in the face of difficult challenges, unfamiliar obstacles and some of the harshest natural elements. Water-based activities the crew will also be participating in include snorkeling, free diving, spearfishing and fishing, while enjoying remote hikes during their anchorages.
/// Partner with Us
Help by donating to send this team on a life changing training experience. Your investment in a volunteer crew member will equip them to be world-changing men and women of character, ready to face the challenges that come with leadership, teamwork and the great outdoors.
$1,100 per person
Includes all meals
Transport to and from ship
Team activities (fishing, sailing, safety, education, etc)
Safe Arrival Dinner
CPR First Aid Certifications
/// Excursion Dates
Trip is weather dependent & based on Captain approval.Tentative dates range between
November 13th – November 19th, 2014
Follow us on social media to stay updated!
PC: Dai Mar Takmarack
The 17th Annual Indonesia trip has come to a close. I had the amazing opportunity to lead this adventure trip full of amazing people. Our diverse team of 21 included surfers, photographers, musicians, college students, and a family of four!
We started in Kuta, Bali and over the course of three and a half weeks, went to Bingin, Uluwatu, and Desert Point on Lombok. After that, we jumped on a boat for 7 days to Gili, Sumbawa and Nusa Lembongan. The Indo trip being a surf tour, the team got great surf at world class breaks: Impossibles, Scar Reef, Desert Point, and Shipwrecks, just to name a few. At one point, we sailed through such rough waters that our boat nearly capsized, beating any roller coaster ride money could buy, and causing us all to laugh uncontrollably as we slipped across the boat.
When trying to describe the overall experience of Indonesia, I find myself coming back to the same word:
The surf was both perfect and threatening, the culture was colorful and bold, and the wildlife is up close and personal, a lesson quickly learned from repeat monkey invasions! The nature around us was captivating: the cliffs of Uluwatu, the views of Bingin Beach, the long jaw-dropping barrels at Desert Point, and the breathtaking views of rugged Sumbawa.
On top of getting amazing surf and a ton of laughs, we were consistently reaching out to the communities around us. One of the most amazing experiences was when we were in Desert Point on Lombok.We met a man who had his house halfway built and needed the funds and work to finish it. We had a contractor and a carpenter on the team with us, so they went to his house to check it out.After assessing the need and figuring out what we could do, the team pooled together and provided enough funds for him to get 20 days worth of labor and all the supplies he needed to have his house completed. This man was just one of the people we were able to help on the trip. We passed out clothing and school supplies everywhere we went, helped meet practical needs whenever we could, hung out with the locals, and made lifelong friends.
We also had Cameron Taylor with us, a Hawaii bodyboarder sponsored by Empire bodyboards.Empire generously stocked Cameron up with some brand new bodyboards to give to the kids in one of the most remote locations, Desert Point village on the island of Lombok. When you saw the kids get the chance to play on a board in the waters that they live right in front of their entire lives, you know it’s a gift that will keep on giving.People ask me if Indonesia was good, and I tell them Indonesia was everything: It was good, it was fun, it was hard, it was tiring, it was crazy, it was totally different from anything I’ve done, it was adventure at its essence, and it was worth every second!
For more info on the Indo trip, or to apply for next year, visit www.surfingthenations.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To see photos from our trips on instagram search #stngo
I sat in the Surfers Coffee Bar on an ordinary work day, trying to think of a band to write about for a weekend music feature.My friend, Tyler, was visiting from California and plopped down next to me as I stared blankly at my screen, weary from browsing. Seeing the chance to get some fresh ideas, I asked him to tell me a good band that I may have not heard of before. He grabbed his phone, scrolled through some music and threw out a name that was to become my new favorite band: ‘Jinja Safari’.
Fast forward to a few years later: Still growing in popularity and stretching beyond the borders of their native Australia, Jinja not only thrives as a group, but is made up of insanely talented solo musicians. Cofrontman of the band, Pepa Knight is one of those who has branched out to produce a solo project, and the first samples are TASTY.
Today, we introduce you to perhaps his most popular single, ‘Rahh!’
Pepa creates a surprising sound, picking colorful, lesser-used instruments like the sitar and the flute to accompany soothing, yet energy-filled vocals.
‘Rahh!’s use of drums- a very significant and spiritual instrument in many cultures- sets it all to life; carrying the song and waking you up with the rhythm of adventure. Jinja Safari was inspired by the sounds of the world, with frontman Marcus Azon crafting the feel and even the name of the band after his experiences in Jinja, Uganda. Pepa recently took a trip himself across India and that has heavily inspired what he’s written.
The fact that the creator of the music is a globe-trotter himself may explain the vagabond feeling that you get when you hear ”Rahh!’
It’s a song that seems made to accompany an epic sun rise; a reminder of the fresh and the new. It was made for one of those car rides where your arm stretches out of your window, and your fingertips float with the curves of the wind. It’s an ‘I’m awake to the world and going somewhere!’ song.
Inspiring, fun, refreshing.
It’s everything you want your weekend, or your life for that matter, to be.