Today’s post is from one of our internship staff members, Andy Keefe. Andy, a native Aussie just spent some time in his home country, promoting STN and connecting and encouraging people whenever possible. We are stoked to have some more Aussies (and kiwis!) at STN in the near future!
“This last month I have been so privileged to be part of the very first Australia promotional and recruiting trip with Surfing the Nations, nd to put it in so many words, I was frothing!!!! Accompanying me for various parts along the way were Chris Rehrer and Australia’s very own Ame Schadel.
Throughout this time, we were fortunate enough to meet so many amazing organisations, churches, schools, and business’ which were more than happy to get involved and help us spread the story of the good that is happening in Wahiawa and other parts of the world.
Before any of the PR work began, I thought I’d take the liberty to head up towards my old friend Noosa, a long time favourite surf spot. After surfing a couple of hours at Noosa, one of the most crowded waves you’ll ever surf, I noticed some kids dropping in on everyone in brightly coloured vests and as I investigated more closely, I saw that they were from a local school. Then an idea struck me like someone just turned on a switch; Australia is full of little blonde haired grommets who love to surf, and travel, and most of all are adventurous cheeky youngsters. From there I started making phone calls to the school where they came from to try and talk to the surf school teacher. Yes that’s right, in Australia you can take surfing as a subject. As soon as I mentioned to the lady on the phone that I saw them in the water, you could tell she was thinking, ‘Oh no,what have they done’. After getting in touch with the right person, I was stoked to find out that these kids were just about to go on a surfing outreach trip to Bali as the school excursion for the year. Before long, Chris and I got the chance to go to the school and stoke these kids out on their trip just days before they left. I have a feeling we might be seeing some of these kids in Hawaii someday, changing the world.
Next stop was Easterfest. Easterfest is a huge Christian music festival which, of course, occurs over the Easter weekend, where somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 people and make the yearly pilgrimage to the rural city of Toowoomba. Surfing the Nations setup a small booth where we talked story for three days and shared with hundreds of people a little bit about what STN is about. One of the greatest things I got out of this experience was that I had my eyes opened to so so many other amazing organisations which support absolutely fantastic causes. I mean if you ever start to think that this world is a bad place, you just need to take a look around and you’ll realise also how much good is actually happening in the world.
Amongst all the connections made, the individuals visited, and the places we spoke at, I was most of all blessed just to hear people’s stories and take time to inspire and encourage them. It really is amazing how sometimes we can just be connected to the right people, at the right times, in the right place.
Overall, the recruiting trip was a huge success, and much Aloha was shared with the Australian people. In fact, even after a long day I met a girl from New Zealand who we invited to come to Hawaii to join us. I must have been delusional from standing up for 13 hours, but nonetheless, the invitation was made, and we may have another kiwi on our hands!”
In 50 years, do you think you’ll still be surfing?
When you paddle out, the only thing you’re thinking of is that present moment. It’s one of the beauties of surfing- your mind is completely pulled into the here-and-now, no matter how distracted you were before. Most surfers don’t take the time to imagine the future of their home break; the future of their surf community, or the others that will come after them.
Fifty years ago, six boys whose names would one day be well-known, started to surf. They are still surfing even to this day, and now it is their time to look back on a time when they never looked back, and tell their stories through the upcoming film A Life Outside.
A Life Outside is a feature length documentary by Catherine Brabec that tells the story of Greg Mesanko, Chris Mesanko, Kevin Casey, Jim Purpuri, Richard Luthringer, and Bucky Walters. These six men followed a passion that brought them to pioneer the surf break at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.
Their story is one of courage; of braving the crowd that spoke against their surfing, and of proving themselves in the highly competitive surf break. It’s about passion and the unreal commitment that has caused them to paddle out time and time again over these past fifty years. It’s about a time where surfing was looked down upon and unpopular, and the relationships that were bonded through that experience.
Being a surfer from the East Coast, I appreciate men like these who have established the surfing lifestyle in their area. They’ve done it by doing something as simple as loving surfing and pursuing it with passion, and as difficult as standing against the ridicule and disapproval of others. It is men like these that we have to thank for bringing the surfing lifestyle to life in places it never had been before. They are leaving a legacy for The Pier, for New Jersey, and the entire East Coast for generations.
This is a film that is still in the works and can only be brought to completion through your help. In this day and age, everyone is able to effortlessly document their lives: Instagram, youtube, etc. Immortalizing something takes literally a few minutes. What we can’t do though, is have easy access to the valuable memories and stories of the past. Here is a unique and worthwhile opportunity to invest in the production of this film, hear and see these stories and immortalize them for future generations. And maybe one day, fifty years from now, you’ll have your own story because of those people before you who at one point, never looked back.
If you want to see this film, make it happen: Donate through Kickstarter now! There’s only 15 days to go!
Photo courtesy of Catherine Brabec.
“Surfing has taken root in Bangladesh. Jafar Alam, the country’s first surfer, is a national celebrity whose days are packed teaching and promoting the sport throughout his country. He is one of 60 core Bangladeshis who call themselves surfers and are pioneering the sport to creating their own unique surf culture. Yet in a country of 160,000,000 people, where surfing popularity is spreading like fire, why are there only 60 regular surfers? The answer is simple: The number of surfers is determined by the same number of surfboards available. Surfing the Nations recognized this need and started meeting it by bringing surfboards from Hawaii to Bangladesh every year since 2003. support the surfing community.
After meeting Jafar in Indonesia in 2008, and hearing about the great need for surfboards and basic things like surf wax, a dream that I buried years ago reignited. The dream that started on my first day surfing: to make surfboards. The lure of getting to work, creating, shaping, painting, and surfing on something I had made fascinated me. The ability to close up shop and head to the beach when the waves were good, gripped me. That dream was eventually put on the shelf while I pursued other things people my age are supposed to, like getting a college degree. Making surfboards for my friends was my only connection to that dream, and it was few and far between. Whilst talking with Jafar, my mind was flooded with the idea that I need go there and help to develop surfboard shaping. Out of all the countries in the world that needed surfboards, Bangladesh was at the top of the list. I had an opportunity to to do something I had dreamed about and also further Surfing The Nations vision to develop surfing in that country. The dream was the same, but the motives had changed from my own enjoyment, to serving others, which has always ended up being more satisfying.
This past November, a local Bangladeshi named Kamrul and I made our way through the country in search of the raw materials used to make surfboards. We met up with a rad French organization that was developing jute, a local natural fiber, into a cloth that could replace fiberglass. To our surprise, we found all the materials needed for surfboards through the shipyard. Kamrul and all the other surfers were blown away; It was actually possible for them to make their own surfboards! Soon, they would no longer have to wait once a year for a chance to be given a surfboard by Surfing the Nations. They can now make and surf new shapes they never have, or start a surf shop to produce and sell them. The community of surfers can now enjoy the sport and earn a living doing what they love.
Surfing The Nations returns to Bangladesh this April to further the development of surfboard making and to share hope and love with the people. We have a lot of work cut out for us: sustainable and eco-friendly materials need to be adapted, shaping rooms need to be built, surfboard and fin design need to be taught, and the surfers need business training. Surfing The Nations would like to invite you to be a part of this. Whether you are a surfer or not, you can join us and bring stoke to Bangladesh. We are heading out on April 10th-May 3rd. If you can’t come, but would like to help out,we are also looking for donations of surf gear and supplies to take with us. For more info on ways to help out, email email@example.com” -ZT
Some blogs – admittedly – can make us feel less than thrilled with our own lives: all that we see featured is the best of the best, the good times, the perfect images, the things to be proud of. If anyone has a unique and blog-worthy life, it’s The Grommom‘s Monica Swanson. Living on the North Shore of Oahu, Monica blogs about her life as she raises and home schools four energetic board-riding boys. You can imagine that she has a lot to blog about on any given day, and Monica could easily make her life look perfect, but she chooses to write with a fresh transparency that lets us glance into both the beauty and the struggles of her life.
The topics covered on the Grommom are widespread: motherhood, health, fitness, food, surfing, Hawaii, and entertaining are just a few you’ll find (not to mention, some great giveaways!) Monica’s posts are always sure to uplift and inspire her readers, but perhaps one of the best reasons to read the blog is that I have personally met her and can say that whatever she is doing is working (and I am not just talking about her soup recipes). Her eldest son was part of last year’s STN trip to Indonesia in July. The way he and his brothers interacted with all the new people they were meeting here at STN and with each other was heartwarming and rare. The Grommom blog is excellent, but then it’s easy to see how an excellent blog can be the overflow of the amazing journey that Monica has dedicated herself to as a Mom. You will want to get this woman’s advice, you will want to hear what inspires her, you will want to take the chance to share in her life as she goes through the joyful moments and the rough spots.
Monica puts her heart and soul into her work on the Grommom, but the overarching theme of her blog lies far beyond the laptop: it’s about the people in her life. There are a lot of things that we busy ourselves with that can define us, like where we live, our careers, our activities, but even living in a Hawaiian island doesn’t constitute paradise. Monica reminds us that true paradise is found in the relationships we have. That’s the paradise that you don’t have to get on plane to find: the one that is found in your child’s eyes, in your mother’s voice, in your best friend’s laugh, in your spouse’s embrace. You can’t find room for it on pinterest, or recreate it with any amount of words. That is the paradise that Monica lives in and shares first and foremost.
Go ahead and add The Grommom to your bookmark bar – you won’t want to miss a post!
Photo courtesy of Monica Swanson.
…And they’re off!
Last night we sent out five of our staff to California, thus beginning our 2012 California/Mexico Recruitment Tour. I had a chance to peek at their schedule and it looks pretty packed with visits to Azusa Pacific University, Point Loma, Hurley International and the Dane Williams Memorial Surf Festival – and that’s just in California. Continue Reading
As early as pre-school, I remember bodysurfing in the Wilmington area of North Carolina. Some of my beach vacation memories are filled with warm sun, but more often than not, the clouds were ominous, the thunder ripped through the air and the waves were, what my sister and I called at that age, ‘angry’. This was because our family vacations always coincided with the East Coast’s hurricane season. My Dad is something of a nature lover, a man who meets it with awe and curiosity and taught us to do the same. Those two combined meant we were always set to ride out the storm even when the locals were boarding up and heading out. One day during Hurricane Charlie, our Dad looked out the window and declared we were’ going for a walk to look at the waves’. We hoofed it through the wind and the trees whipping back and forth and joined the party of two that were already at the beach- the news anchor and her cameraman (Needless to say, ‘storm chaser’ was on my list of possible career choices having gotten pretty comfortable with them.) Continue Reading
Ask Julie Nelson if dreams come true and her response will be an adamant, “yes.” This past week I picked up a copy of Surfer Magazine and smack-dab in the middle was an article written by our very own surfer/journalist, Julie Nelson. Here’s the deets: Julie reigns from the beautiful west coastal town of Cannon Beach, Oregon. This girl grew up surfing the waves off the Oregon coast and has salt in her blood to prove it. With a passion for writing, Julie went to school for journalism. But since coming out to STN in September 2010, Julie has been dedicated to living out STN’s motto of ‘surfers giving back.’ So when given the opportunity from Bryan Jennings and John Cobian to write for Surfer Magazine, she was all about it.
Here’s a tad shmidge of what she had to say in the article about STN, surfing and giving back: ”Surfing is simply our language we choose to speak, but our message stays the same; meet needs, change lives and instill the principal of ‘surfers giving back.’ Continue Reading
It’s like a dream.
One of those dreams where you find out you’ve been a royal all your life and have a rich inheritance and a crown waiting for you. Or you’ve won the lottery and you’re driving your dream car down a road to your home with an oceanfront view. But then, it’s not a dream, it’s a reality that, perhaps unbeknownst to you, you have a home on the coast of France!
That home has a name and it is ‘Surf Hostel Biarritz.’ Most hostels I’ve been at through my travels in Europe that are within a certain student-esque budget will offer you the following: the comfort of a sturdy bunk bed, and a breakfast of toast and jam with some coffee or tea. Those accommodations live up to most travelers’ expectations of a value hostel. But Surf Hostel Biarritz, founded by Aussies, has chosen to go above and beyond. They are opening up the doors of their five-bedroom rustic converted basque farmhouse and handing you a board, wetsuits, and a bike, not to mention breakfast and a bed! (It seems like a bed would just be obligatory after they’ve given you everything you need to go spend your energy surfing and cruising the town). Surf Hostel Biarritz also offers two large lounge areas and a dining room where you can hang out and get to know other travelers, or simply chill out on the couches with a DVD or cruise the free internet. When hunger strikes, you can cook yourself up a meal in the fully equipped kitchen, which is open from 10 am to 10 pm. But don’t worry about breakfast- you can expect a cooked breakfast every morning of your stay (no need to sneak Mom in your carry on). Continue Reading