A week of surf camp was not enough. What an unexpectedly amazing week we had in Long Beach, NY. Magnolia has always loved surfing, we have been getting adapted surf lessons since she was 6 years old. She is now 11. While living in California we would have weekend excursions to La Jolla to surf. She absolutely loved it. Its funny because in one of the hardest times of our lives, we discovered this amazing opportunity for her. It was when she was in a clinical trial. You know, the one we made a documentary about…you can find out more about that here…
We would drive to San Diego from Los Angeles, take Magnolia to the clinic, get prodded, poked and frustrated. Then we would go to the beach.There wasn’t a specific adapted lesson for her, we created one.
Now that we live on the East Coast, we wanted the same experience for her. Last year, AJ came across a nonprofit called Surf For All in Long Beach, NY. also close to where Magnolia’s grandparents happen to live. We did the surf camp, again Magnolia loved it. So AJ signed her up again for this summer.
It is hard to put into words why this week of surf camp was so amazing, but I’ll try. Dr. Jeanine Sorenson runs the camp, from the moment we walked up, everyone is welcomed with open arms. Jeanine sets the tone for everybody. If a neurotypical kid comes over to the Surf for All booth, Jeanine makes sure to include her surfers into the conversation. She is a model for inclusion. Jeanine has so much love for those with disabilities, she should give a Ted talk. The instructors that work for her are young surfers teenagers to twenty somethings. They care for the kids in the program and make the experience for them. Let’s be honest, kids like Magnolia get left out a lot. Yes, even with us pushing inclusion, including her ourselves, she is still left out. This instructors are young, they hang out with the kids, they are buddies, they swim with them, jump waves, coax them into the ocean and keep them safe. They were wonderful and adapted to Magnolia and everyone else with ease. You will notice that she made everyone carry her, she was a little timid by the shore break but also loved being carried. It truly is an uplifting experience. I found myself just staring in awe. My heart was full.
That isn’t all though. Surf for All is a part of the surf camp Skudin surf. There are tons of kids a part of this camp. They are watching and learning how the instructors interact with kids like Magnolia. By the end of the week, Magnolia had several kids come up to her and tell her she did great, congratulating her on her trophy, not because they were told to, but because she was watching them. Instead of ignoring her (very common) they interacted with her because the coolest surfers they knew, showed them how cool Magnolia and kids like her are.