A surf camp for children with special challenges visited Lavallette last Thursday, delivering a unique experience.
Sponsored by Waves of Impact, a non-profit organization based in California that “exists to show individuals facing exceptional challenges the thrill of riding waves,” the free event entertained 58 participants and their families, according to co-founder Keith Lovgren.
“Lavallette was our first event in NJ. We’ve been doing events in California and Texas for the last two years,” Lovgren said.
A community effort made the day possible, with lunch provided by the Hickory Hog in Point Pleasant and Lenny’s Pizza in Lavallette, stand-up paddleboards from Midstream Kayak and Rentals in Brick, and 19 volunteers, according to Lovgren.
Instructors from Lavallette pro surfer Sam Hammer’s Hammer Surf Camp attended, Billabong donated wetsuits and rash guards, and the Lavallette Borough Council provided beach badges for all attendees.
“Talk about Jersey Strong!” Lovgren said. “We rely on the generosity of our sponsors and local businesses.”
Rob Kelly, a New Jersey pro surfer that Down the Shore recently profiled, volunteered as an instructor.
“Best [surf] session I’ve had all summer! These have to be some of the most stoked kids in the world,” he cheerfully said.
Parents were also excited to see their children having fun in the water.
Pam Wade Peppers commented on the organization’s Facebook page that her son had “giggled and loved every minute of it.”
And it appears that at least one child is now hooked on surfing.
“Last year I could barely get my son to go into the water at the beach. Today, we could barely get him out!” wrote Jen Soucek Mason.
Aside from the joy that the event brought children, their families, and instructors, there is something much deeper about the experience, something that Waves of Impact hopes will resonate with all.
“The ocean is said to help in healing wounds, both externally and emotionally. The unexplainable wonders of riding a wave and spending a day at the beach can make everything see a bit easier. There is something very soothing about being in the ocean,” Lovgren said.