Summer is here! For High Fives Foundation, that means camps, camps, and more camps. We are so fortunate to host individuals at several locations to experience, participate and compete in multiple sports, including surfing, mountain biking, flyfishing, and RZR driving. These camps challenge and change an individual’s perceptions of what they can do while building a community of lifelong friends who have been through similar challenges and share a passion for living life to the fullest.
We recently hosted 11 Adaptive Athletes, including seven first-timers in Santa Cruz, for a surf camp. We are lucky and know one of the best watermen in the world, Rob Jarvis, who has lived in Santa Cruz for many years. Rob is well respected by all the locals and happens to know all of the best spots to shred some waves. With Rob as the main guide and another handful of incredible and helpful watermen and support for the Athletes, the logistics of the camps were planned and dialed in. It was now up to the Athletes, the weather, and the waves to come together.
New surfers Alina Petrik, Andrew Mangan, Brenden Doyle, Sam Audenino, and Chris Waker were shown the ropes by not only the watermen who have countless hours in the water but also by our experienced adaptive surfers Hamilton Coke, Alana Nichols, and Jason Abraham. The combination of experience and new shredders made for a fun camp with lots to be learned by all involved.
Santa Cruz provided lots of fun waves perfectly suitable for beginners and experienced shredders. The weather was about what you would expect for late March in Santa Cruz. Grey overcast days with some rain and the sun popping out occasionally. A little bit of rain was not going to stop us. When you take a group of Athletes who have been through a life-changing injury and are doing everything to return to the sports they love, a little rain isn’t going to stop them.
Getting to reintroduce Athletes to the water surfers to the water is something that has a profound effect on us. Taking someone who has thought that they would likely never surf again or at least not at a high level and then showing them that no, that isn’t the case. You will surf and if you want to put in the time to learn, you will surf very well. Is extra special. Retitroducing an injured athlete to any sport whether it be surfing, mountain biking, skiing or any of the other sports we do will always be something extremely powerful for us.
Santa Cruz was super legit. I had so much fun. The whole team, from all the watermen to High Fives staff, was fun. It was cool to go on a trip with a bunch of strangers and everyone turn out to be awesome people that I could get along with. The surfing itself was a ton Of fun. Im very excited to get myself a board and start surfing more often!
High Fives Athlete # 480 Brenden Doyle
We have been surfing in Santa Cruz for a number of years now, and have never had issues with locals. Some breaks develop a reputation for being unfriendly to anyone who isn’t a local on a traditional surfboard. That has never been a problem in Santa Cruz. However, this year we did notice something quite neat. Not only were the locals and the town of Santa Cruz cordial to us being in the water and sharing waves with them, they were totally stoked!
A local news station came out to shoot a story on us being there and riding waves, The Search and Rescue of Santa Cruz volunteered their time to come hang out and help out and they even donated a beach chair for us to get Athletes into the water. You could feel the shift from people being okay with adaptive surfers on their local waves to them being excited at the chance to share a wave with someone on a unique watercraft who had been through a life-changing injury.
At the end of the day, Surfing is cool, and adaptive surfer is surfing.