Connecting With Kin: Transformational Stories #03

Bodhi Surf + Yoga / Surf + Yoga Camp Blog / Connecting With Kin: Transformational Stories #03

Bodhi Surf + Yoga has partnered with Wander Well Podcast to share the transformational stories of the inspiring women who go through the Bodhi Surf + Yoga program. I’m Katie J, the voice and producer behind Wander Well Podcast. In 2018, spent three months at Bodhi falling in love with surfing, writing blog posts, and becoming completely enchanted with Bahia Ballena and Costa Rica in general. So far, we have heard stories from Jen Whalen and Christie Geiss on the Bodhi blog. Jen loved Bodhi so much she decided to host a retreat there in late 2018. As for Christie, she has visited Bodhi on two separate occasions and has found great peace here, including overcoming a debilitating fear of the water.

This month, we are hearing from Caroleigh Pierce the Nonprofit Outreach Manager at Klean Kanteen, the maker of stainless steel water bottles, cups, and food containers.

Caroleigh from Klean Kanteen

Winning a free vacation at Bodhi Surf + Yoga

Caroleigh handles all of Klean Kanteen’s philanthropic donations, gifting, and funding of nonprofits. Her efforts stem from Klean Kanteen’s mission to reduce plastic pollution and get more people outside recreating in nature.

She discovered Bodhi through her work with a nonprofit called the 5 Gyres Institute. Bodhi offered up a Bodhi Sessions surf and yoga camp to be raffled off at the fundraiser. Caroleigh was excited to learn that she would receive five surf lessons, five yoga classes, a massage, a community walk, and plenty of fresh, delicious food — for two people! “That was the first time that I became aware of Bodhi at all and I did some research and was just super excited to be honest. I actually bid and won the trip. And so my husband and I were able to go to Bodhi last January and had an amazing adventure”.

I asked Caroleigh what she expected before the trip to Bodhi and she said as an over-planner she was a bit anxious about how to prepare. “I had a couple of conversations with Travis and the staff about what to expect and what I should prepare. He did such a beautiful job of just calming me down and saying it’s going to be fine. We’re going to have it all figured out for you”. Caroleigh tried to plan out each day but Travis assured her she may be too exhausted to do much more than lay in a hammock and read during her free time, so to keep it open.

Caroleigh meets Bodhi

She and her husband arrived after dark but were so pleased to find Klean Kanteen cups on a beautifully lit table setting. Caroleigh admitted that she sees the world through a unique lens given her work. Since greenwashing is such an issue across industries, she often evaluates an experience or company based on their ability to follow through on their environmental or social claims. She was thrilled to see that Bodhi walks their talk in all aspects of their business. What a welcome!

The next morning she woke to some “interesting animal sounds that [she] had never heard before”. For those of you who have been to Bodhi, you know exactly what she’s talking about: Funky Chickens (aka the Grey-necked Wood Rail)! Despite her unusual alarm clock, Caroleigh woke up excited to start her Bodhi adventure.

Downward Dog at Bodhi Surf + Yoga

Takeaways from Bodhi

I asked her what her biggest takeaway was from Bodhi and she said, “this was not a [typical] tourist experience at all. It was a community building experience. I felt [it] was very clear that we were encouraged to be a part of the community and a part of the people. And I hadn’t really experienced that in my lifetime before”.

Caroleigh travels often, but has never walked away from a trip feeling so blessed and fulfilled. She said the entire community was welcoming. From going to the grocery store to visiting nearby restaurants, she said that she felt they were treated “as a local, not as a tourist”. She went on to say, “I think my takeaway from Bodhi is that I want more of that. I want more of what that felt like”.

Advice for visiting Bodhi

I asked Caroleigh what you should consider before going to Bodhi and she said this: “Whether you are an experienced surfer or you have a more extensive yoga practice, everywhere along the gamut, there’s somewhere for you to feel welcome and safe and that you’re going to walk away a better person”.

She said she didn’t realize the experience would feel so much like family. “It is intimate and small enough that you feel like you’re family. You still have the opportunity to do things on your own and have private time, but you want to spend more time with people, [you] want to learn more about them and you want to experience things together”. Caroleigh is plotting how to get back to Bodhi. As one of their newest board members, she is anxious to get back and bring her daughter so she too can become a part of the Bodhi family.

Learning to surf in Costa Rica

Promoting environmental stewardship

I asked Caroleigh what she would recommend to people who want to live more sustainable lives (and encourage others to do the same) but aren’t sure where to start. Here are some tips she gave:

  1. Meet people where they are at
  2. Seek opportunities to have conversations
  3. Support others who are doing good work and share their stories
  4. Lead by example without being really heavy in the dialogue (which can turn people away)
  5. Avoid sharing unpleasant pictures or statistics
  6. Instead, offer products or services that can help improve lives
  7. Don’t try to be perfect, it’s exhausting
  8. Don’t be afraid to refuse products or services that don’t meet your standards

Caroleigh believes the environmental crisis impacts all of us, and it’s important that we all take responsibility for our actions and their subsequent impact. Both Bodhi surf + Yoga and Klean Kanteen are doing just that, and are in fact working together in a number of ways to do so (see video below for some Bodhi + Klean collaboration).

This past year and a half has been rough for Caroleigh and her family. She so badly wanted to go back to Bodhi during this time but wasn’t able to. Instead, she mentally transported herself to her place of peace. To a place that allowed her to just be. To a place that felt like home. In her mind and in her heart, she went back to Bodhi.

Listen to my full interview here.

Written by Katie Jones

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The article is from a guest contributor. If you would like to contribute on the Bodhi Surf + Yoga blog, please email us at [email protected]