Andrea Diaz, the founder of Waves Costa Rica Surf Camp, has a passion for teaching kids how to surf in Tamarindo, a beachside town known internationally for its popular surf scene and proximity to Ollies Point and Witchs Rock, two of the best breaks in Costa Rica. She grew up in a small village near there, and the sport of surfing took her around the world as she represented Costa Rica as a former Women’s champion and member of their international team.
So to give back to her community Andrea created the Surf for Youth Program. “Our goal is to introduce surfing to kids who otherwise could not afford to try it. We encourage kids to use the sport as a way of life, to live healthy and stay in school.” Part of the requirements for participation is that student must have good grades, good conduct, and be role models in their community. The program is not to train them to be professional surfers, but to teach them the discipline, the effort, and the determination that it takes to ride waves. “Since there are no ‘after school activities’, the Surf for Youth program keeps the kids busy, focusing their energy in a positive way,” explains Diaz. One of the highlights for the kids in 2012 was getting to meet 3 time world champion surfer Lisa Andersen and learning CPR and surf rescue techniques.
The owner of CR Surf Travel Company, and CRsurf.com, Greg Gordon, had first met Andrea in 1999, when the website was just starting to send out Costa Rica surf reports to the world. He knew that Andrea was a talented surf instructor who had put her life into her surf school and camp. They worked together on sea turtle volunteer projects and other environmental and community issues for the next decade. When the Surf for Youth Program started, CRsurf.com was first to not only promote the events but help translate the press releases from Spanish to English. Now in 2013 they are one of the official sponsors of the program.
CR Surf Travel Company is a sustainable surf tourism business. They are a member of 1% for the Planet, volunteer with the Surfrider Foundation, and are registered in California as a Benefit Corporation. Benefit Corps are certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. (B Corp certification is to sustainable business what LEED certification is to green building or Fair Trade certification is to coffee.) Sponsoring the Surf for Youth program was an easy decision according to Mr. Gordon. “It is a joy to help Surf for Youth with their endeavors to teach the next generation of surfers coming from Costa Rica, and help these kids learn valuable social skills while gaining an appreciation for the ocean and the environment.”
Since the program is still in its first year, Surf for Youth is asking for help from the international surf community. The kids in the program don’t live close to the beach, their homes are in the rural backcountry of the Guanacaste region. Visitors to Tamarindo can contribute used boards, leashes, swim trunks, wax, and rashguards at the Waves Costa Rica office in front of the Best Western Vista Villas. Participants also need funds for travel expenses and meals, and a few are looking for sponsors so they can compete on the national Costa Rica surf tour. Local shaper Carton Surfboards has offered to shape boards for the kids for $200 each. Mrs. Diaz hopes that one day “one of these kids may end up on the international stage representing Costa Rica, and they got their confidence from attending our program.”