Surfrider Spirit Sessions Core Program
Each Spirit Sessions Program lasts 9 weeks, consisting of multiple 4- to 5-hour surf sessions and at least one community service event, as well as other optional “surf ohana” activities. Every youth has a dedicated volunteer surf mentor, access to over a dozen other adult surf mentors, as well as support provided by staff members and peer-Junior Mentors.
Student Orientation: A Promise to Succeed
Change is hard. In order to change their lives, kids need to want to change and believe they can do it. Before their first lesson, we promise each teen that if they accept our guidance and put some effort into it, they will catch a wave and ride on their very first day. Many doubt us, but we make it happen. Later we ask them “What else can you achieve that you don’t believe is possible?”
Surf Session Days
Each surf session begins with a talk-story circle and theme for the day followed by warm-up yoga and land-based surf instruction.
2. Water Time
Teens hit the water with their adult volunteer “surf buddy” mentors, junior mentors, staff, and professional surf instructors. Teenage reserve gives way to the “stoke,” and youth bond quickly to their mentors and the group. Safe and nurturing relationships develop as teens learn to trust and seek/accept support and practical guidance.
On flat days, the group will canoe surf, paddle or cruise on stand-up paddle boards.
3. Post-Surf Time to Eat, Bond and Reflect
After surfing, the group comes together for lunch. Mentors work with students to recognize their accomplishments and challenges and to set new goals. Mentors help youth process their experiences in the water and apply the lessons learned in the surf to their lives. The day’s theme helps guide the discussion.
A mini-environmental science lesson with Hawaiian cultural perspectives is presented, often determined by the questions directed to us by the youth themselves. Each session wraps with “Malama ‘Aina” as youth participate in a beach cleanup and collect cigarette butts.
4. Group Talk-Circle
Teens discover new perspectives and a new sense of belonging in group talk –circles where everyone shares opinions, insights, and knowledge. Discussions lead to a mini-environmental science lesson, Hawaiian culture lesson, or life skills lessons taught by staff members and mentors.
Topics include: “What makes a wave,” “What is coral,” “Impact of marine debris,” “Introduction to ahupua`a,” “Significance of surfing,” “How to apply for a job,” and “Asking for help”. Teens begin to recognize the interrelationship between the ‘āina (land), the ocean, and themselves and their community.
5. Malama`aina Beach Cleanup & We’re STOKED!
At the end of each session, youth, mentors, junior mentors and staff members pay homage to the aina in honor of the gifts they received from their time in the water and on the beach. Junior mentors lead the charge in beach cleanups.
Trash is disposed of properly, recyclables are sorted, and cigarette butts are collected. At the end of each program, the group recognizes how small actions can add up to make a big impact. (See our lesson on how cigarette butts kill turtles. Pop up window)
Bonded by good fun, good company, and good deeds, the group pulls together and celebrates by shouting in unison, “STOKED!”
Ugh. I can’t stand to see cigarette butts on the ground now. I even pick them up outside of the program. Feels good to know I can help take care of the aina and the turtles.”