When the sun is shining, the waves are rolling in and the day is begging to be enjoyed, you can bet you’ll find a solid lineup of surfers waiting to catch the perfect set of waves. But it’s not just the adults who are setting their sights on the shoreline. Instead, kids of all ages are paddling past the break and right into the action as they help usher in the surf culture for Charleston area’s youth.
Excited to know more about the who, where and when, I caught up with five young shredders as they headed to the beach to catch the afternoon break and fill me in on how they got their start surfing the mellow waves of the Lowcountry coast.
With their school, Sullivan’s Island Elementary, a short walk from the sand’s edge and weekends spent enjoying the beach, surfing has become second nature for these kids growing up in the Carolinas. It’s no surprise that they all got into the sport the way most kids do – watching their parents. All five kids were inspired by their dads to jump in the water and paddle out and surf for the first time.
And while an obvious love and respect for the ocean resides inside each of them, their favorite part of surfing comes down to catching waves with friends – plain and simple. For this group in particular, four boys and a girl, they get together as often as possible to hone their craft and have the time of their young lives.
The youthful energy is undeniable as you listen to them talk about their many adventures of their 17 years of combined of surfing experience. For the two older boys, Liam and Wyatt, both 11, they excitedly tell of the time they tandem surfed on a long board one summer, with Liam adding with a laugh: “I had a broken leg in a cast the whole time.”
Two of the 10-year-olds, twins Cameron and Dubose, started surfing only two years ago and have both already claimed first place in their individual competitions. And finally, fellow 10-year-old Peyton has not only enjoyed surfing both coasts of the United States but has taken to the waves in Costa Rica, where he lived with his family for over a year.
“I’m lucky to be able to surf here and in Costa Rica, because I love the ocean,” Peyton pointed out.
As for the only girl of the group, Cameron said getting other girls out there is more difficult than it should be.
“The hardest part is getting out there in the first place,” she said. “After that, the fun doesn’t stop.”
But the lack of interest from a majority of the other young ladies to join in on the fun hasn’t kept Cameron from holding her own with the boys, thrashing through the surf and inspiring the younger females looking on from the shore.
It isn’t all sand and surf for this group of high-energy school kids either. When they aren’t hanging at the beach, all five are still full-blown athletes, using their talents in a myriad of other ways. From soccer to BMX to skating, if it involves an adrenaline rush or a fast-paced atmosphere, they want to be front and center.
As Wyatt put it: “We love anything with wheels or a board.”
At the end of the day, it’s exciting to see that the surf culture in Charleston is rising among the ranks of the younger kids, bringing a passion and dedication to a sport that has been enjoyed around here for decades. With the increased interest, the hope from everyone involved is that programs will soon abound to support the continued growth of the sport. While there is an obvious need for more, there are local surf shops, such as Ocean Surf Shop in Folly Beach and Parrot Surf & Skate in Mount Pleasant, that support local kids catching rides as early as possible, going as far as to sponsor some of them in local competitions. Carolina Surf Club welcomes members of all ages but tends to be geared toward a more mature group of surfers. And finally, the Sol Surfers Surf Camp offers lessons throughout the summer for beginners 6 years and older.
Kids and parents alike expressed a desire to see more surf clubs in an area that is home to several incredible beaches. But this doesn’t stop this group from hooking up at the hottest surf spots to work on their newest moves – like kicking out the tail of their boards or catching a barrel – techniques they all hope to master.
Now is the time for these kids to make their mark on the Charleston surf community. Whether it’s surfing their favorite beach break-out in Folly or staying a little closer to home in Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island, they’re more excited than ever to take full advantage of the upcoming summer and chase the sun beyond the horizon. But more than anything, they’re looking forward to a surge in wave-riding friends their age.
“We get to be out there with our friends, making turns and cutbacks,” said DuBose, who wants to see more surfers his age showing up each day. “It’s fun.”
Who could argue with that reason to start surfing?
The genuine desire to share the energy and thrill of catching waves and the satisfaction of perfecting a new trick is a welcomed sentiment to see from the youngest generation. While I knew their talents and skills would blow me away, it was their attitude, excitement and energy out of the water that impressed and inspired me most.
By Krysta Chapman