The Stoke of Surfing

ImageCan you think of a time in your life that was so impactful that it changed your course of direction?  For me, this took place just after Christmas back in 1999.  I was living in Delray Beach at the time; within walking distance of Atlantic Dunes Park.  I can remember watching local surfers for months on end and bugging my parents about wanting a surfboard so that I could learn.  The thing was, I had attempted a couple times before at various stages of my youth and at no point shown any real commitment.  From my parents point of view, it must’ve been hard to justify spending money even on a used board if this was something I was going to use a handful of times before leaving in the garage to collect dust.  So we’re opening up gifts on Christmas morning when my Dad tells me that and I have one more present, but it’s at Nomad Surf Shop.  I was confused, as most teenagers probably are.  He went on to explain that he and my Mom wanted to buy me a board but didn’t really know what to get, so he would take me to the shop and we’d pick one out together.  I knew they weren’t going to spend too much money on this; which explains why we ended up buying.  I didn’t care though; I picked out what looked like a burnt potato chip (6’3” Nomad thruster that had spent a little too much time in the sun and a fair share of abuse in the water).  Needless to say, I was in the water almost every day learning and getting better.  It’s funny how a $150 surfboard would eventually influence some of the people I hung out with, trips that I would go on, and even my decision as to where I would attend college – all because I had developed such a passion for surfing.

I mention this story because it’s an opportunity that I was given, in part because of where I lived and a family that had the means to support me.  However, not all kids come from a place that would allow them to experience the influence and impact surfing has had on me and so many others.  Fortunately, Firewire Surfboards and FCS have partnered to create Share the Stoke Foundation, “a charitable organization based in South Florida and is dedicated to donating surfboards to kids and teenagers in need in an effort to keep them off the street and in the water”.  Their current campaign, The 100 Board Project, is a global outreach program impacting disadvantaged children around the globe.  One of STSF’s most recent adventures was going down to San Bernardo del Viento, a very rural beach town in Colombia, to introduce surfing to the local children; all of whom had never even seen a surfboard.  By teaching these children how to surf and leaving them with several boards to hold on to, they gave them a chance to feel part of something special.  The goal of the foundation is for these kids to feel loved and have a positive way of expressing themselves, ultimately allowing them to become role models for the other kids.

I was really stoked when I first heard this story and I believe the sky’s the limit.  My hope is that The 100 Board Project, in time, becomes The 1,000 Board Project and the foundation is provided the finances and support to really travel the globe.