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Fishing, Swimming & Surfing in SJDS with Share the Stoke Foundation

In our previous post we mentioned that we needed your help.  After volunteering at a Share the Stoke event this past weekend, I witnesses first hand the difference that this foundation can make in kids lives and their community.

Share the Stoke Foundation (a non-profit dedicated to empowering at-risk youth through the sport of surfing) is one of 2500 charities that has been nominated to participate in the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook.  Up for grabs is $5 million in grants. Of the 2500 charities participating in the contest the 196 most voted for will receive grants ranging in value from $250,000 for first place down to $10,000 for 100 of the charities.

Cast your vote for
Share the Stoke Foundation
by clicking
 
here!

If everyone flexes their social media muscle we’ll have an incredibly positive and exciting follow up post for you at at the end of September. Please take a few extra minutes to spread the word about this great organization via your Facebook account, email distribution lists at work and home, Tweet about it, share it on your blogs and Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Tumbler & Instagram accounts. 

– The Stoke Team on their way to Nicaragua

The 1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend kicked off Saturday morning with a garbage clean up at San Juan Bay.  Only kids that took part in the beach clean-up were eligible to participate in the weekend festivities.  We had a great turn out and managed to collect over 260 pounds of garbage in only a couple of hours.  This event also gave us some time to start building a camaraderie between the kids and volunteers. 

– Some of the crew who took part in the garbage clean up

Later that afternoon Cory and I had the privilege of escorting a group of 18 kids out on a fishing boat. Almost half of the group had never even been on a boat before.  A few of the girls actually held onto each other and screamed when we went over some of the bigger rolling waves.  The trip was much more fun and exciting than we had envisioned.  Thank you Casa del Sur for putting your charter business on hold and taking us all out on your boat.

– Getting ready for our fishing trip

– Almost everyone took a turn as Captain

Sunday events took place at Playa Hermosa which just so happens to be where the TV show Survivor was filmed for two seasons.  Our day started with swimming lessons. It may seem odd that a group of kids that live so close to the water need swimming lessons, but the sad fact is that most Nicaraguans don’t actually know how to swim – which results in multiple drownings every year. 

Given the size of the waves the swimming lessons turned out to be more of a “How Not to Drown Class”. Fortunately it didn’t take long before the kids started to get comfortable in the water. Once that happened they had almost as much fun as the volunteers.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– A little bigger waves than we hoped for swim lessons

Playa Hermosa, SJDS

– “How Not to Drown” Class

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Susan connecting with a couple of local girls

Next up were beginner surf lessons for the kids that felt comfortable in the waves.  I noticed one of the girls that raised her hand indicating she didn’t know how to swim was taking surf lessons.  She actually ended up entered the competition and with the coaching and encouragement of the Stoke girls she caught her first wave.  It was hard to tell who was more excited – her or the Stoke girls – but in the end it was probably the Stoke girls.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Maria didn’t win the surf competition, but she did win a skateboard from the raffle

Many of the kids were new to surfing, but managed to get up and ride their first waves ever. Volunteers whistling and shouting words of encouragement. The morning had an emotional effect on many of the volunteers, adult surfers and onlookers alike.

Playa Hermosa,San Juan del Sur

– An emotional moment for the Stoke girls

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– So close…yet so far!

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Almost there…

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Great effort

The experienced youth surfers took time to warm up for the afternoon competition – or in some cases just goofed off.

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Show off!

Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur

– Sharing a wave

Susan, Nicole and Michelle from Share the Stoke collected two suitcases full of school supplies to give out to all of the kids that were at the beach on Sunday.  The kids were super stoked! One of the volunteer teachers in town told me that she was just as happy to see the much needed supplies.

1st Annual SJDS Youth Weekend

– Susan trying to maintain a level of controlled chaos

1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend

– Happy recipients of school supplies

All that was left to do was prep the Firewire surfboards for the main event …. the Youth Surf Competition!

1st Annual SJDS Youth Weekend

– Putting the final touches on the prize boards

Share the Stoke Foundation Sponsors the 1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend

Half a dozen years ago Kelly Kingston attempted to sell one of her used surfboards on Craigslist.  With no serious offers Kelly decided she’d prefer to give her surfboard away to a deserving kid, rather than sell it for less than it was worth. Kelly changed her ad to read “free to a kid who sends me an email explaining why they deserve to have my surfboard”.  

We all learn from our experiences, but sometimes an experience can change our path in life. 

As expected Kelly was bombarded with emails. But what Kelly didn’t expect was the genuine level of need within her community. This experience helped Kelly realize that she wanted to help kids in her community stay off the streets and in the water and with that Share the Stoke Foundation was born.

– Totally stoked!

A year after giving away her 1st board Kelly and her partner Neily were in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua enjoying a surf vacation.  My friend Cory took the girls out surfing and they updated him on what was currently happening with Share the Stoke.  They had spent the last year raising money, begging for donated boards and giving those boards away to kids in Florida. It didn’t take this trio long to come to the realization that Florida was not the only place with kids in need and at a crossroad in their young lives.  With Cory’s help Kelly and Neily were able to find a deserving, up & coming surfer who would receive the first board in Nicaragua.  Share the Stoke had gone international!

Fast forward a few years, 5 countries and 74 boards … 

Kelly is back in San Juan del Sur with 6 of her friends sponsoring the 1st Annual “With A Little Stoke From My Friends” San Juan del Sur Youth Weekend. This is where I enter the story as an enthusiastic volunteer that ironically can’t surf and truthfully can barely swim.  

The goal of this weekend was to ensure that all kids in the community could benefit from this event. In order to participate in the weekend activities the kids were required to help in the beach cleanup – we removed 260 pounds of garbage in just a few hours. Other scheduled activities included a fishing trip, beach volleyball and swim and surf lessons – all culminating into a youth surf tournament.  Firewire surfboards were awarded as prizes to the top surfers in each age group.

– Kelly & Cory with participants of the Youth Surf Competition

Share the Stoke Foundation has been working very hard to increase the number of boards it provides to deserving kids each year. They have also been working very hard to find a board sponsor and luckily they’ve finally found one.  Firewire has stepped up to the plate in a huge way by committing to donating 100 new boards in 2013, 200 new boards in 2014 and 300 shiny new boards in 2015! Now that Share the Stoke has the product, it’s time to focus on fundraising so they can distribute these boards to the children that deserve them.  

Stay tuned for my follow up post that will describe how YOU can help!  As a heads up I won’t be asking you to donate money – I’ll actually be asking you to do something that takes less time and effort than tying your shoes and costs absolutely nothing.  

Your participation could result in Share the Stoke being awarded up to $250, 000 of grant money. 

My post will be published on September 6th and will also include detailed stories and more awesome photos of the activities that took place this past weekend!  (Photo credit for all event images goes to Nicole Williams.)  

Please check out the official Share the Stoke site and help spread the word about this great organization by liking them on Facebook. Share the Stoke Foundation and I are counting on you to help make a difference in the lives of some really amazing kids!

Kudos to Share the Stoke Foundation and the volunteers that made this past weekend all possible!  I’d also like to thank the team for allowing me to share in this very special event that had such a positive impact on so many children in my community.

– Kelly – President, Share the Stoke Foundation

– Neily – Vice President, Share the Stoke Foundation

– Lauren (Behind the video camera) Stoke Volunteer

– Nicole – Stoke Volunteer

– Susan – Stoke Volunteer

Matthias – Stoke Volunteer

Cory – Event Organizer

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