LAGUNA BEACH – Although the phrase ‘soul surfing’ may recall the 2011 film ‘Soul Surfer’, the Laguna Beach Soul Surfing School has been its own separate entity since 2004. But the idea of emphasizing love and devotion to surf invariably remains the same.
Soul Surfing School, founded by leader Chris Williams, offers surf camps, clubs and group and private lessons.
Soul Surfing camps promote the combination of surfing and the Christian faith. According to Williams, the purpose of camps is to “give children time to have fun and relax” and to follow the golden rule of the Bible: treat others as they want to be treated.
“I thought there was an element [to surfing] which provided a lifestyle that was not healthy for children, ”said Williams. “I wanted to have a surf industry with a radical life but no harm to students.”
A camp called Camp Pendleton offers surf lessons and Bible studies for children whose parents serve overseas in the military and who live on Base Camp Pendleton. This summer, Soul Surfing is offering a camp in San Onofre from July 18 to 22. Ten percent of all proceeds will go to the Military Families Scholarship Fund.
In addition to the camps, Soul Surfing runs a weekly summer surf club for kids (ages 8-14) known as the Adventure Club; it does not focus on faith. Run by instructors Troy MacDonald, Taylor Pitz, Mac Chapel and Robbie Dapper, the Adventure Club lasts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a mix of fun, games and surfing.
The Adventure Club’s typical schedule includes a warm-up jog, stretching, running games, surfing, lunch, ocean lessons, and more surfing practice. Students are taken to surf when the tides reach an appropriate median height. Increased confidence in one’s skills to deal with the unpredictable nature of the ocean can become visible from the first few days of practice.
“To be comfortable with the ocean, you have to understand it,” Chapel said.
Private surf clinics and lessons are available for people of all ages and skill levels. Athletes can train for surf competitions or just have fun with friends in a group they can organize on their own.
“We pass on all the knowledge we have on the beach to [the students]MacDonald said.
Williams noted that the movie “Soul Surfer” contributed significantly to the publicity for Soul Surfing School. But at the end of the day, the school has its own unique soul.
“It worked really well,” said Williams, “and we are truly blessed for it.”