If you’re a surfer or involved in the surf industry, you’ve heard of Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization that works to preserve the world’s waves, beaches, and oceans (as well as the life that resides within them). For us at Bodhi Surf School, Surfrider has been a shining example of how the surf industry can and must be at the forefront of the environmental and marine conservation movements, and their work has motivated us greatly to combine surfing and conservation within our business model.
Over 30 years of Surfrider
Surfrider was started in 1984 in Malibu, California, by three surfers: Glenn Hening, Lance Carson and Tom Pratte. While the surf and conservation spheres often overlap, the creation of Surfrider was the first official connection between the two. Surfrider’s first objectives were the following:
- To preserve and protect surf spots, starting with their home break of Malibu, but also looking at the rest of California and even outside the U.S.
- To raise awareness and provide educational opportunities for young people about surfing and public safety
- To fight for public access to these surf areas
In 1991, the first chapters were founded, and the group went from a casual advocacy group to a legitimate grassroots activist network. In the 30 years since its inception, Surfrider has tackled a whole host of issues: teaching individuals to protect the beach and coastal environments, monitoring the health and well-being of these important ecosystems, lobbying government and holding it accountable to high environmental standards, educating individuals about water (sources, waterways, consumption, use, and runoff to name a few), and encouraging the reduction of plastic use.
They have had great success — today, Surfrider is comprised of over 50,000 members, has 84 chapters worldwide, and has run over 270 victorious campaigns. They are now widely recognized as one of the “heavy-hitter” organizations when it comes to environmental protection, and they are inspirational to nonprofits and businesses alike.
Learning from Surfrider: Surfers make the best ocean advocates
Bodhi Surf School is a for-profit organization, yet we feel that we have an obligation to actively and vocally campaign for the protection of the coastal environment. Unlike ski hills and gyms, surfers are not normally required to pay for beach access — yet, like any other public area, it too requires maintenance and care! We could not in good conscience “use” the beach and the ocean for our own personal profit without ensuring that we also protect, maintain, and even improve it so that we and others can continue to enjoy it for years to come.
Next, we teach people to surf because we want to share the joy of surfing and because we want people to learn what surfing is all about, yet we also have a great personal interest in ensuring the protection of our “haven” — which means that we have built marine conservation into our surf curriculum. We believe that surfing is a lot more than just standing up on a surfboard and riding a wave, it’s about being a champion for the ocean — being an Ocean Guardian, in other words.
Our honest opinion is that all surfers should be Ocean Guardians — since surfers spend more time in or around the ocean than the average citizen, they know firsthand how dire the situation really is. Whether it’s seeing an endless supply of plastic washing up on shore, getting sick from ocean pollution, noticing the general deterioration of the ocean environment over time, or from simply paying more attention to the stream of bad news about the ocean:
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
- The recent Deepwater Horizon or Refugio State Beach oil spills
- Overfishing to the point of near extinction, like the Pacific Bluefin Tuna,
- Global warming and the warming of the world’s oceans, and exacerbation of natural phenomenon like El Niño
- Oceanic acidification and the death of the ocean’s most basic systems, coral reefs
Donating to the Two Coasts, One Ocean Campaign
As a part of our own Corporate Responsibility Program (which we call our “Ocean Guardian Journey”), we do on-going service in and provide resources to our community through our Service & Surf Saturdays, our Yoga for the Community, and Travelers’ Philanthropy programs. We also aim to leverage our guests’ nature-based experiences with us to encourage them to become Ocean Guardians after they leave us, starting with our Ocean Guardian Pledge.
Yet we look for opportunities to donate our services — what we do best, which is shape responsible and capable surfers — to causes that are close to our hearts. In past years, we have donated to both the Center for Responsible Tourism and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego on multiple occasions, as well as for our annual My Ocean Guardian Journey Contest. This year, we have the opportunity to donate to the Two Coasts: One Ocean — two separate fundraisers, one on each side of the United States, which will support all of Surfrider’s excellent work.
Our donation to both the Montauk and Malibu events will be a 7-day Bodhi Flex vacation for two people, with the addition of:
- A full day boat tour to Corcovado National Park with a local boat tour company who is also the top-rated company within the Costa Rican Sea Star Certification, Bahia Aventuras
- A tour to the infamous Whale Tail, with a typical Costa Rican lunch, guided by Dr. Eric Ross Salazar an environmental expert who has done extensive marine conservation work in Costa Rica through the Marviva Foundation, whose work on sharks has been published in National Geographic, and who has specialized in studying the Marino Ballena National Park.
Each vacation is valued at roughly $2,800, bringing the total donation value to $5600. This weekend is the first event in Montauk, New York, and the second event will be September 19th in Malibu, California. While we won’t be able to personally attend these events, we are very excited to be donating to an organization whose work we so greatly admire.
Don’t forget to start gearing up for the 2015 My Ocean Guardian Journey Contest — we will be giving away a free Bodhi Sessions Surf & Yoga Camp for two people — check out this year’s contest details here!