“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
I have always loved water. Mom says she couldn’t get me out of the tub as a child. My pre-teen years were spent literally IN the community pool, the deeper it was the better. By high school I had discovered summer camp at the beach and despite the 6 hour trip by train and then 2 more by bus, somehow I managed to convince my parents to send me to camp TWICE every summer. Once was just never enough for this mermaid… (God bless their souls for allowing me to go, I’d never sent my child if I were them 🙂 No camp counselor could get me out of the water, no matter how hard they tried. Out of necessity, a “remain in water for as long as possible” one, I even made friends with the local lifeguards and “assisted” them with preventing campers from drowning. Since I was always taller than everyone else my age (#giraffeproblems), it wasn’t that difficult to guard kids from drowning when water was up to their chest (aka my waist).
In my 20s I lived in Florida, California, and Rhode Island but it wasn’t until I moved to New Hampshire that I got bitten by the surfing bug. Yup, apparently that bug bites even in cold waters. Actually…I tried surfing once in RI. My model/surfer roommate that summer had a board and let me borrow it and try catching a few waves in exchange for feeding his baby snake while he was away on a photo shoot. The snake thrived under my TLC, while I got whacked on the head a number of times at First Beach in Newport, RI when I decided to be a smart ass one day and surf hurricane swell…but I love water and they say bigger waves are easier to catch, why not try 🙂 (Please don’t do this at home – snake or hurricane swell!!!)
So I started living a mile away from the beach in NH and saw the surfers. And drooled over them riding waves for about an year. I really wanted to learn how to surf but since I’m not a natural at ANY sport and to be honest I’m quite clumsy, I needed lessons! I found out about Ladies Night Surf Camp at the local surf shop, they had rave reviews online, so there I was, young at heart, back to camp once again. Little did I know that surfing would change my life! To this day when I pass through NH, I have to stop by Summer Sessions Surf Shop, look at the beach, grab a coffee (they have the best iced coffee on the beach), and say “Hi” to the crew. If they only knew how much love I harbor for them and how many lives they have influenced with surfing!
I took my first lesson with the guys at Summer Sessions early June last summer. I was going through a very difficult time personally at that point and I was spending a lot of time at the beach pondering/meditating. I was “at the beach” until I caught my first wave, afterwards I was back to my regular camp state of “you couldn’t get me out of the water”. I’d take both camp sessions in a row on Wednesday nights (no, normal people don’t do that :-), I’d stay in the water between sessions to practice my paddling (cold, no I’m not cold), I’d do private surf lessons on weekends, I’d rent gear whenever I could and try catching waves on my own. My mind didn’t need meditation any more, it needed water. A friend that summer told me “If you are sad, paddle out. If you are still sad, you haven’t paddled enough.” So I listened. Sometimes I’d just paddle out when it was completely flat and lay there and stare at the horizon. I’d do dawn patrol at sunrise and certain days when life got too tough, I’d go out at sunset again. Here and there, I was able to catch a wave on my own, most often surfing by myself looked more like drowning.
I loved Ladies Night so much that I kept going. I still do. I met people, I made friends. I enjoy the social aspect of it. I’ve surfed with ladies from 17 to 70. (#partywave featured above) The boys guarantee they’ll have you up and riding a wave on your first session…and I can vouch for that statement to be true…if they could teach this long-legged, zero balance “giraffe”, they can show you the ropes too! Even the 70 years old lady I surfed with once popped up on her first lesson, to the complete and utter disbelief of her husband #3. I always wonder if he was more surprised by the fact that she still went for the class after he warned her multiple times she’d die, or that she wasn’t actually drowning and would outlive him in the long run 🙂
Jenness Beach is the safest, most mellow place to learn how to surf, and it just happens to boast the most beautiful colors at sunset right when you are in the water laying on your board! The instructors are such a sweet crew with so much love for the sport and they truly care about your safety and positive experience. They cheer so much for you that I joke with them they almost make me believe I’m a good surfer and give me too much confidence 🙂 (Only for that ego of mine to be drowned by Mother Nature with the next 6ft wave I try to surf.)
Ladies Night Surf Camp is offered every Wednesday (June to Sept), 5:30pm and 7pm at Summer Sessions Surf Shop, Jenness Beach, Rye, NH. Follow them on Facebook to learn more about events and promos at the shop!
And when you visit say “Hi” to Ry. Ty, and the SS crew and tell them Maria sent you!