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Youth Surf Competition: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– The next generation of surfers

On Sunday afternoon the San Juan del Sur Youth weekend was approaching the grand finale of events – the Youth Surf Competition.  

We had some free time left until the competition started and I noticed things got a little quiet on the beach.  I thought that maybe the group was fatigued after all of the weekend activities, but when I took a closer look around at the young surfers I realized they were getting their game faces on.  After all, there were 4 brand new Firewire surfboards on the line.  To put things into perspective the value of one Firewire surfboard is equivalent to four months of the average Nicaraguan salary.

– Surrounded by women, but he’s focused on one thing…victory!

– Pre-contest board inspection to pass the time

The best waves of the day were forecasted to start around four o’clock so we tried to relax and wait for the show to begin.  Time seemed to drag in anticipation of the competition as the young athletes sat quietly gathering their thoughts.  

Finally it was time to go!  The contestants and coaches grabbed their boards and made their way to the water.

– Coach, Safety Coach & athlete head out into the waves

– Super Grom = Super Confident

Just minutes had passed between quiet reflection time and kids riding their first waves of the heat.  There was no lack of energy now.  There was hardly a time when there wasn’t at least one surfer up riding a wave.  

There were four heats in the competition:

  • Juniors (14-16 years old)
  • Groms (11-13 years old)
  • Super Groms (10 & under)
  • Girls (all ages)

All the kids saved their best rides of the day for the competition, but a few of them really stood out. The volunteers and competitors whistled and cheered from their places on the beach.  Some rides were so spectacular we just looked at each other in surprise and admiration and at times almost forgot to cheer.

– Coach & athlete celebrate a good session

Once all heats were complete the pressure switched to the judge’s table.  Cory and Kelly knew the significance of the Firewire boards to these kids. Kate from Chica Brava stands behind the judges with a look of trepidation on her face.

– The judges reviewing their scores

The young surfers paced back and forth trying to relieve some on their nervous energy. Looking at their faces you could tell, that for them, time was standing still.

– Trying to be patient

– Waiting and hoping

Just when it seemed like the winners would be announced the draw started for the raffle. There were a dozen prizes to distribute amongst the spectators. The grand prize went to one of the young surfers.  He won a beautiful Eberly board that was donated to help raise money for the weekend activities.  For this one surfer the wait was over, but there were other competitors still waiting patiently to see if they too, would walk away with a new surfboard of heir own.

– This is one happy surfer with his new Eberly surfboard

One by one the top four surfers for each heat were announced and we had another first for the Share the Stoke Foundation.  The first board that they gave to a girl internationally was here in San Juan del Sur.

– Mandy presenting the Firewire board to Virginia

I’m still not sure how it happened, but I had the honor of presenting the board for the Super Grom (10 years and under) category.  Gabriel was one happy 8 year old!

– Our 8 year old Super Grom winner Gabriel

Our Junior winners Norlan and Sebastian were equally as excited to receive their Firewire boards and were happy to pose for photos and do some interviews.

– The winners with some proud parents

– Interview with our Super Grom winner

The 1st Annual San Juan del Sur Youth weekend was a great event for everyone involved and I’m happy to report that the Share the Stoke team is already talking about next year’s event.

Please remember to vote for Share the Stoke Foundation on the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook.  The charities with the most votes are eligible to receive grants valued between $10 000 – $250 000.

Click HERE to watch the video.  Click HERE to vote.

I would like to give a big shout out to In Nica Now’s stand in photographer – Nicole Williams from Share the Stoke.  These last three posts would not have been possible without your amazing photos. Thanks pal!

Our talented Photographer/Surfer at Remanso Beach

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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