The Middle East trip has been an integral part of STN’s international program for years.
From the shores of Egypt to the ruins of Turkey, no trip looks quite like the other, but each one offers an incredible amount of adventure.
Surfing The Nations is excited to announce this year’s Winter trip is to the intoxicating land of Morocco!
The trip is full for this year, but stay tuned for updates on the trip and follow the team on instagram with the hashtag #stngo
Cover photo from dragonkiteschool.com
Today’s blog comes from Katie Redmond, our incredible, world-traveling humanitarian barista at Surfers Coffee Bar! Katie just recently returned from an STN surf trip to Sri Lanka! Here she shares about the land of the Jungle Book and all she experienced there.
In 1998, Sri Lanka breached the radar of Surfing the Nations. STN found the world-class point break wave known as Main Point on the tip of Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka. Sixteen years later, I had the privilege of seeing this masterpiece with my very own eyes on the 12th annual Surfing The Nations outreach trip.
Myself and five others trekked across the width of Sri Lanka from Colombo to Arugam Bay where we spent the entirety of our 24 day trip. Our team consisted of five who came with Surfing The Nations, and we were also joined by a couple from Italy, a team from Bali, a team from Southern California, and a local family.
In an environment with a widespread mix of locals and tourists, it was refreshing to stay in a village where we could really get to know the people. I could take a walk through the village and see faces that have names I knew at every turn. We held a number of activities during our stay: women’s tea, surf school, movie night, and, my favorite, Family Night.
On Family Night, we would hop in a tuk tuk to the next city and bought multitudes of chickens, coconuts, vegetables, spices and rice. The smells were overwhelming. Surrounded by mothers, daughters, and sisters, we sat crowded on a single mat on the floor, cutting kilos of vegetables and the largest amount of garlic I have ever seen. We then started serving families the creation we made. We started with 70 paper plates and soon found ourselves scrounging for more. Ninety people ate dinner with us in one night. These evenings were filled with laughter, family, dancing, spicy food, and warmth. The families adopted us into theirs so quickly; I marvel at their acceptance and long to be back in it.
Whether the waves were pumping way overhead or barely a ripple, we surfed and swam the East coast of Sri Lanka. Joining us were children and women who once were terrified of the ocean as they watched it rip their village apart in the 2004 tsunami. I watched a woman who once would not leave her home alone catch her first wave, and I understood her reality in a new way. In a highly Muslim community, infused with Buddhism and Hinduism, it is not a culture that is comfortable with women surfers. This woman was also mother of a Sri Lankan surfer and she has seen the opportunities her son had been given through surfing. He competed in the Red Bull Ride My Wave competition, and she began to encourage the girls in her family to surf.
In a culture so founded on family, it is surprising to see the absence a father figure plays in the children’s lives. As we surfed or swam with the local boys daily, we found they were longing to be involved in everything we did. They even volunteered to help us rebuild the STN Sri Lankan property fence. A group of eight 16 year old boys, one father, and the 5 of us partially clueless team members worked side by side for days and hours. These boys with pasts I can barely put into words simply want to be wanted and to do something significant.
Finally, the day to leave the country I had come to love arrived. We walked the village, stopping house to house to say our goodbyes. One of the 16 year old boys we spent a lot of time with hugged us all and simply said, “No goodbye. See you later”.
Until next time Sri Lanka, until next time
Today’s blog post comes from Ulu Pono director Brittany Southwick. The Ulu Pono program has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, and with the continued support of local charities and volunteers, so have the kids! Brittany writes about the amazing summer that the Ulu Pono kids an teens had and tells us what’s happening this school year
“The summer of 2014 brought deeper relationships, more fun and education to the Ulu Pono Department at Surfing the Nations. Over the months of June and July, we traveled all around the island every Wednesday and Thursday giving the youth experiences outside of Wahiawa, that, realistically, they would usually not be able to have. Using funding from grants received from Friends of Hawaii Charities, we took them to the Honolulu Zoo, Bishop Museum, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, to volunteer at our Feeding the Hungry outreach and even took some of the teens camping for a weekend on the North Shore! The Summer Program is designed to keep the kids out of trouble that they get into during the summer when they are bored, and stuck in Wahaiwa with nothing to do. It rewards them for being consistent with their attendance during the school year, and helps us to get to know the kids on an even deeper level as we spend more time with them.
Now that summer is over, the school year has been in full swing with our Genius Factory program on Wednesdays as well as a brand-new community outreach on Saturday afternoons! Genius Factory focuses on the younger demographic, Pre-school to 5th grade, providing free after school homework help, virtue lessons and healthy outlets such as dance, community clean-ups and art lessons. Our newest outreach, the Ohai Community BBQ is just taking off here in September as a way to reach out to the teenage demographic of Wahiawa. This presents an opportunity for us to connect with not only the kids of Wahiawa, but their families as well. Students from our internship program are involved in our Ulu Pono outreaches each week, fostering an even more community-minded lifestyle within Surfing the Nations. Ulu Pono means “To thrive on a Righteous Path” which is our heart behind the program- and none of it would be possible without the support and grant money from Friends of Hawaii Charities each year. We are so thankful and honored to receive their support and know that none of this is possible without them. We are looking forward to the 2014-2015 school year and all the growth that is going to happen in each one of our kids! ” – BS
To find out how you can volunteer or if you’d like more information on the Ulu Pono program, email email@example.com
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.
Although a free T-Shirt for someone in need may seem like a small act, we believe that it can lead to greater and bigger acts of kindness ,progression, and togetherness. We would also like to raise an awareness of selflessness and the spirit of giving. For who ever wears “BLSD” apparel, we want them not to just look good but to feel good as well.”
For every shirt that BLSD sells, they will give one to a child in the Ulu Pono Kids program. It is a very special and often rare thing for the kids to be able to get brand new clothing items. It will be an amazing way to invest in a child and show them they are worth it!
Today’s blog comes from Katie Connor, the director of STN’s Ulu Pono program. To see more photos and read more about her life working with the kids of Wahiawa, visit her blog.
Do you remember your first piano recital or football game? The weeks of practice and the butterflies in your stomach? Do you remember looking up into the bleachers or squinting from the bright stage into the dark crowd? And there they were: the people who had pushed (maybe slightly forced) you to be there. They looked at you with love and pride, trying to mask their own anxiety for you. They belonged to you; they were your parents.
I remember many moments like this growing up and I long for those moments now when I’m living thousands of miles away. But the kids I work with don’t ever get moments like that. Maybe mom and dad are too busy, or gone completely, or just uninterested. Many of the kids have never been to a soccer practice or a ballet class. The street is where they spend their afternoons. The street and the Ulu Pono Kids Program. They may never hear their parents tell them how proud they were or that it was okay that they dropped the final pass. Often times it just isn’t a part of their culture. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t tell them we are proud of them! So this weekend, that is exactly what we did!
The Ohai Family Festival was a dream that we had cultivated for over a year before it came to pass. Many hours of dreaming, hoping, wishing and planning came to life in a beautiful afternoon. For four hours last Saturda,y everything was about the kids. The games, the prizes, the music, the shave ice. All because we were proud of them and we loved them.
Half way through the afternoon, we awarded each child from the program a “Character Award” they were called up on stage in front of everyone and amazingly there were even some parents in the crowd. They got a hug, a certificate, encouragement and an affirmation by different staff members. Most of them got really shy about it, red cheeked and squirming they got on stage and while they acted like they wanted to run off the stage, I know them better than that. They love, love. Don’t we all?
It’s hard to gauge success when working with kids. How do you measure “getting into less trouble” or “headed on a better path”? Three days after the festival, I went to pick up a 5 year old boy from his home. I know his parents well and his mom had come to the festival. I walked through the living room that consists of several mattresses and barely enough room to walk and picked up his baby sister out of the crib. That’s when I spotted it. His purple certificate pinned amongst the mess up on the wall. My heart swelled with pride and I choked up as the reality that his parents had taken the time to make sure his award was hung really sunk in. That is the kind of “success” I want to see. The kind that transforms an entire family from the inside out. -KC