One year ago the above image made me smile and think of the beauty and strength. It also brought to mind the uncertainty and power and force of the waves. I would marvel at the creatures that find their home in the Pacific. Thoughts of the great vast ocean would lead me to realize that it is a place to visit only only on a sea worthy vessel, with proper safety gear and a great sea captain.
Fast forward 12 months – I had no idea that the above would represent a vessel, safety gear and a great sea captain.
The Tigershark Surf Club started training us with how to use the gear in flat water lake conditions.
Next we learned fitness drills to make us stronger while out in the ocean. There are specific muscles needed for core balance, arm paddling, and pop ups. Strength is required for the endurance to have fun – the ability to surf for hours without exhaustion.
We had a professional watch the boys swim in a safe community pool. He helped to assess if they were able to tread water / swim unassisted for at least a half hour without touching. This was important to me. If they get separated from their board, and pushed down shore, they need to be able to float and swim and catch the swells back to shore.
We have had several classes on Ocean Education. This goes in a few directions, the history of surfing, taking care of our ocean and beaches, and predicting the ocean’s environment. We were already passionate about keeping our beaches clean. We learned to look at several web sites to see from home how the waves, swells, wind, tides and weather were behaving. Throughout the year, we were able to match what we read online to what we would see when checking out our favorite surf spots in town. We always walk out and look at the wave patterns before suiting up and jumping in. Finding the rip tides, and using them to our advantage to get out. Seeing which way the waves are going, how strong the wind is, what direction the wind is moving. The Ocean Education part is what gave me the courage to let the boys surf when coaches were not available.
Once we got into the ocean, the boys were taught Duck Dives, Turtle Rolls and how to paddle to the outside. Using the riptide, they learned easier ways to get there. Noticing how far up the shoreline they could float before needing to zoom back to shore to start again. Triangulation – finding their points on the beach to make sure they do not get too far away in either direction.
One of my favorite parts as the mom on beach patrol has been watching the wildlife interact with the surfers. The curiosity of the seals and the birds makes me giggle. We spent time at the Oregon Coast Aquarium with the divers. They answered questions about the sea life interacting with humans. Club members asked the hard questions about injuries – and they answered them bluntly. The percentage of injuries over time actually put my mind at ease. Watching otters, seals, dolphins, pelicans and other birds adds to the wonder of the day.
The most overwhelming part for me – Sniff Sniff – is the brotherhood that has been created. My eyes water up, my chest gets tight, and I feel heavy with thankfulness on many levels.
First, with Surf Club, you get several surfers who volunteer their time to help the club members increase in skill. They encourage and give pointers. They are like sentinels in the water increasing safe parameters. They give their gas, lunch money, water bottles, extra booties, and advice. They have given wet suit gear and extra surf boards. They encourage the boys in their health with food and fitness. They give accountability to making sure the kids team up and always look out for each other. Forming the Surf Team to help them travel and meet other surfers, creating the Jr Leaders Program to give them an outlet to pass on their knowledge and abilities to others – they fuel the kids with stoke, somehow finding balance between safe surfing at their skill level with a push to go just a little bit farther each time. Can’t tell you the hours of surf movies and stories of the great surfers.
Everywhere we go – the surfers are like a brotherhood. They all know each other, and include serious surfers quickly. Sure, we’ve had some eyes roll when we pull up in several vans and 20 groms start crawling all over the beach – but they still smile, and then ask where they can help or send a kind comment or two out to the kids before they head out to find an empty beach.
The friendships inside the club have increased as well. Training hard for these great PNW waves gives a link to each other. An understanding. They speak the same language. Share the stoke. Ask the same questions. Sleepovers, campouts, car trips, and bon fires – build these friendships. As a homeschooler in a small town, there are limited opportunities to form these bonds. Our team members come from Home, Private and Public Schools. Several public schools – and they all share one passion – to get up and rock the next wave.
It makes this mama’s heart skip a beat each time Jon tries his skills on the next larger set of waves. At his last session he was pushed and tumbled pretty deep, and said he experienced wondering when he’d surface. But he heard his coach’s words of what to do, and didn’t panic. I’ve heard this from both sons. As they encounter situations in the water, they hear their coach – adjust – and keep surfing. The last two times I’ve seen Jon surf, I’ve had to walk away a bit and not wring my hands. After his incident, he just moved closer in to shore where he felt a bit more in control. There were several surfers in the area – a few we didn’t know, and they each stopped beside him to make sure he was ok – and ask if he needed help. He’d smile and say no – and continued to ride the shore breaks in, while watching their crazy rips with a smile.
As summer approaches – I encourage you to step outside of your shell. If you live near the ocean, contact your local surf shops and ask about lessons. Check into used gear. Find a surfing buddy. Check out the local surfing clubs. If you are anywhere near Central Oregon Coast – KLG Adventures provides lessons for the Oregon Surf Shop – and they’d love to get you started on a safe and fun journey in the ocean. They offer the same 4 quals that the Surf Club experiences to those who want full lessons.
I’m sure you’ll see me posting all summer – Nathan is excited to get back into surfing and has been training this month a couple of times a week with the Fitness, Swimming, Ocean Education and Flat Water Drills. A little joy that came from his surf training this week – living on the lake, his first experience with Wake Boarding was not good, he was in the 6th grade, and well, it left him not ever wanting to waterski or wake board. After a 2 hour session this week with a trained boat operator and great instruction, he tow surfed in the lake with this little red surf board you see with Jon. Now he says he can’t wait to try wake boarding.
I can’t write enough of how much this confidence has drifted into other activities and academics. I was remarking of the growth in one of the skill sets in a different area that Jon has been working on to a surf coach – and he said – “Oh, that’s because of surfing. It gives you confidence when you are doing something that you didn’t think you could do. That same feeling helps you conquer other areas in your life.”
Thankful this morning, as always, for the Tigershark Surf Club. Glad to be a shore line white water body surfing Stand Up Paddling Waterdog Mom.
(The links above are to FB Pages – I am not an affiliate and this is not a review for any of the above companies, just my gushy morning rambling. I am thankful to many companies and community organizations that give to the Tigershark Surf Club to help us operate. If you are looking to invest in the future of surfing on the Oregon Coast, give KLG a shout out.)