Tag Archives: Surf Camp

Surf Asylum Alumni at the Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic

I wrote this post at the beginning of the summer, as surf camp was about to get under way, expressing how excited I was about our All Girls Surf Camps and what I hoped I would be able to share with our students beyond the fundamentals of surfing, namely, confidence, joy and gratitude. In my wildest imagination I would have never been able to imagine seeing that come to fruition as it did this past Saturday when nine Surf Asylum alumni and eight other Fernandina Beach surf sisters took to the water at the 17th Annual Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic.

My cheeks still ache from all the smiling, my lungs are still tired from all the cheering and my heart is forever expanded from watching this group of girls develop (or deepen) a relationship with the ocean and come together in sisterhood through surfing. It was incredibly rewarding to be on hand as each of them went into the water and delivered their personal best. While I am super proud of all of their results, I was blown away by how much they gave of themselves in the spirit of competition. I watched each girl push the boundaries of their personal best and couldn’t be happier in the effort displayed.

Surf Asylum is proud to present the alumni who competed in the 17th Annual Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic:

Lani: Lani is just adorable. At four years old, Lani was by far the youngest competitor of the event, competing in White Water Riders Age 12 Under. If Lani’s mom, Joy Anderson’s performance (3rd place in Sage Sisters Shortboard, 3rd place in Stand Up Paddleboard) is any indication, Lani will find herself in the finals sooner than later.

Sofia M.: Sofia came to surf camp, stood up and took the first wave of her life all the way to the beach. She has now been surfing for less than four months and is already paddling into her own waves in the right conditions. This was Sofia’s first contest and I was so proud of her for entering. She got some great rides and should be so proud of how far she has come in such a short amount of time. Sofia also has some pretty sweet dance moves she likes to bust out after a good ride.

Maili: Maili has been surfing for a few years, but is still only 10 years old and is completely independent in the water. She caught all of her own waves and made some very critical drops in her heat. Also a competitive swimmer, Maili’s upper body strength allows her to catch waves with ease while her leg strength allows her to execute nice bottom turns. Maili is a great role model for girls who are just getting into surfing.

Ella: At surf camp this year Ella asked me who the best surfer was and I replied, “the one having the most fun!” She then quipped back to me, “then I’m the best surfer!” Ella really stepped up in the competition getting third place in her round one heat, moving her into the quarterfinals. Competition was pretty fierce in the quarters and even though she didn’t make it through, Ella was definitely giving 110%.

Ivy: Ivy is another camper who has been surfing less than four months, but already has her own longboard and can often be seen out surfing with her mom. SOS was also her first contest. She placed second in round one taking everyone of her waves all the way to the sand. She also got the single best wave of her quarterfinal heat, but ran out of time before she could find a back up wave. Look out for Ivy when she is paddling for a wave, she’s also one of the top competitive swimmers in her age group in NE Florida.

Malia: While she had never surfed before either, Malia told us the first day we met her that she had watched several surf movies to get ready for camp. She must be a visual learner because three days later she was catching her own waves and working on a bottom turn. This allowed her to skip the beginners stage of riding whitewater to the beach and sent her straight into riding the open of face of the wave. Pretty impressive for a first generation surfer with no previous experience! Malia earned herself a third place in round one and advanced to the quarterfinals.

Sofia B.: What a summer for Sofia! Sofia had a little surf experience when we first met her but was nervous because of a bad wipe out experience. This summer’s small surf was perfect for putting that behind her. Sofia has come from almost not standing up until she hit the sand to popping up fast, making steep drops and shifting her weight around to speed up and slow down as necessary. This was a lethal combination in competition, letting her catch waves further out than her competitors and taking them all the way to the beach. It also led her to first place in her round one heat, first place in her quarterfinal heat and fifth overall in White Water Riders 12 and Under. Way to go Sofia the Brave!

Kaia: At only eight years old, Kaia already has a few years of surf experience and is impressing everyone by surfing independently, catching most of her own waves and taking steep drops with control. She has a super smooth style, combined with a lot of strength and has the potential to take her surfing wherever she wants. She made quick work of her competition in her round one heat of the Keiki’s 9 and under division, placing second and earning herself a spot in the finals. She continued pushing herself, catching her own waves, navigating critical sections and working them all the way to the beach and ended up fifth overall. Great job Kaia!

Mikaela: Mikaela has three things going for her that I find fairly unique to her young age of seven. She is incredibly strong, almost fearless and has a really mature read on the wave. This allows her to surf waves, sometimes well over her head, with composure and style. She took third in her round one heat of the Keiki’s 9 and under division, impressing the judges with a backside rail grab down the face of an overhead wave where she almost found herself under the lip of a closeout tube. She solidified a third place spot in the finals by paddling into her own waves, pumping down the line and working it all the way to the sand. She’s got two more years in the division and I can’t wait to see her and Kaia at this event next year. If they keep at it, one of them is going to walk away with first place.

Way to go girls! I’m already looking forward to next year’s event. Go ahead and mark your calendars, the 18th Annual Sisters of the Sea Surf Classic has been scheduled for September 17th, 2016.

Let’s Go Surfing!


Betsy at the Coastal Crusaders Beach Clean Up, Main Beach, Fernandina Beach, FL. Photo: Sarah Ashley

One of the moments that David and I have put a lot of energy into the last six months is here. Tomorrow is our first day of summer surf camp and I could not be more excited (with just a touch of nervousness)! Not only is it our first day of camp, but it is also one of two ALL GIRLS weeks of camp. I could not be happier or more proud that David and I have brought this to fruition. The response we have received over these two designated weeks has been overwhelming. I see all of our students as an honor and a privilege, but the opportunity to share surfing, something I credit as both being one of the best things that ever happened to me and a life changer, with young girls is something I will cherish forever. I haven’t even met them and I love them all.

Special Olympics Surf Camp, 2011, Photo Amanda Tapley

In a short essay for Women of Waves 2014, I wrote, “Surfing at once gives me a self confidence I’d always denied, a humbleness as vast as the ocean herself, joy that knows no boundaries and a gratitude for which there are not words.” Confidence, joy and gratitude. If I have one student leave camp at the end of the summer with these feelings, I will consider us a success.

Betsy, prepping for Surf Camp 2015. Photo: Eddie Pitts, 911SurfReport.com

Getting to this point has already brought us some of our own confidences, joys and gratitude. We owe a huge thank you to our friends and family, not one of whom so much as raised an eyebrow, what less crowed, “what are you thinking?!?” when I resigned from my very dependable and even somewhat enjoyable job last fall. The support everyone has shown us over the past eight months has itself boosted our confidence and we are eternally grateful for it. We’ve also gained confidence, and quite a bit of joy, by having the luxury to solely focus on this project. And focus we did. I think I speak for the both of us in saying that we’ve never been more committed to something.

Pools Beach, Puerto Rico, 2015.

We’ve spent months hashing out our camp program. We’ve read guides to surfing, watched innumerable online videos of everything from popping up to duckdiving, we’ve surfed as much as possible ourselves and critiqued our every move and talked about every aspect of surfing, almost every moment of the day. We want to provide the highest quality instruction possible and ensure that every camper has a great time. From the start we realized that we wouldn’t be satisfied simply pushing kids into waves. We are dedicated to creating confident surfers who will be able to assess conditions on their own, handle their own surfboard and select their own waves. We believe that through building their own confidences, students can then enjoy the ocean and ultimately, appreciate what a gift it is to spend time in it.

Now, Let’s Go Surfing!