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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
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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

Five Hours of Fishing: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Fishing isn’t an activity that I would normally spend a day doing, but Elisha’s Dad Willard is an avid fisherman so we couldn’t bare to watch the fishing boats leave the dock in San Juan del Sur without jumping on one.

While in San Juan we stayed at Gran Oceano hotel for $52 per night.  The rooms were small and basic, but very clean.

Room 103 at Hotel Gran Oceano

Hotel Gran Oceano has huge outdoor garden and pool that was perfect for relaxing while being entertained by Reuben the Yellow Naped Amazon parrot.  He could say “hola” and laugh – which he especially liked to do after biting you.  He could also cry like a baby.

Elisha’s Feathered Friend Reuben

Gran Oceano offers fishing charters at a cost $300 for 5 hours for a boat that can take up to 6 people.  The trip typically ncludes a meal, snacks, beer and soft drinks but since the Gran Oceano boat was already out, the owner set us up with a friend of his at a discounted price of $200. We had to supply our own beer and food, but felt $200 was a real steal.  We were in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica just the day before and the same package was $800.

Serious Fishermen

Sailfish are currently in season.  With the Gran Oceano boat bringing in 4 sailfish and releasing 2 marlin the day before we went out we had high hopes.  Our day started out slow but once the fish started biting the Captain could barely get one fish filleted before we hooked another.

Willard reeled in the 1st one!

I hooked the next.

A proud father holding his daughter’s first fish!

Willard and I pulled in 4 yummy tuna and Elisha brought in a nice dorado.  She did very well considering this was her first time ever deep sea fishing, she had only one eye and Willard, the Captain and I were all yelling instructions at her in two different languages.  Unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to catch any sailfish on this trip, but we sure had a great day out on the ocean!

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