From May 19-25, the High Fives Foundation hosted an adaptive surf camp in San Clemente, California. The camp saw 10 disabled Athletes riding waves, learning surf etiquette and enjoying the ocean. Keeping an eye on the Athletes were eight watermen and a certified EMT, ensuring that each camper felt safe, so they could focus on the main goal – To catch waves!
In 2012, the High Fives Foundation hosted its first surf camp in San Clemente, introducing five adaptive Athletes to the ocean. Adding Jeff Robertson, High Fives Camp Organizer, to the staff in 2016 has allowed the camps to grow in a safe and manageable way.
One of the core values of High Fives is the term, kaizen, a Japanese word for constantly moving forward and improving. Our adaptive surf camps have been built on this premise as we continue to raise the bar for each camp that we host.
Roy Tuscany, Founder of the High Fives Foundation
This year’s camp placed focus on pairing “veteran” surfers with individuals new to the water. Vermont native Keenan Weischedel enjoyed his first ever surf session with advisement from US Prone Surfing Champion Jeff Andrews.
While there were five veteran surfers at the camp, there were five campers relatively new to the water. The ocean can be a dangerous place, so safety was of the utmost importance. New to the adaptive surf camps was Michael Bumann, a firefighter and certified EMT.
Combining adaptive athletes with an aggressive ocean environment is always challenging from a water safety perspective. The San Clemente Surf Camp was no exception. However, working with such a high level of water safety professionals turned that experience into an example of how things work when perfectly executed.
Bumann, safety advisor for the High Fives Foundation
Each evening, the campers and watermen went over goals, ate great Southern California cuisine and chatted about their day. At the conclusion of the week, each camper had achieved their own personal goals, and did so with an ear to ear smile.
Being able to watch Jeff ride waves made me more comfortable in the water. I play rugby with him, and we are very comfortable working together. He gave me the confidence to make the most out of this amazing experience.
Watching Keenan progress so quickly following my advice was pretty cool. Passing along my knowledge of the ocean to a good friend meant a lot, and I can’t wait to share some waves with him in the future!
“We (High Fives Foundation) keep building off the successes of the previous camp,” said Steve Wallace, High Fives Foundation Program Services Director. “Every waterman and safety crew member made it comfortable and safe for each camper, and we put a lot of salt-soaked smiles on people. I can’t wait for next year!”
It’s amazing to ride waves, but nothing like riding them with other athlete. Roy (Tuscany) helped teach me about the ocean, etiquette and waves, and it was pretty rad to learn from someone I look up to.
Included in the Athlete camp roster was the smiley Winter Park, Colorado native, Trevor Kennison