(Photo by Stan Pusieski)
In 2009, a small group of friends began organizing donations of wetsuits to organizations in Peru, Chile and Mexico as a way to support programs providing youth with opportunities to experience and appreciate the ocean.
This past Wednesday, the Warm Current program brought that opportunity to Florence during a special Youth Surf Camp at the end of the South Jetty.
Nearly a dozen young surfers, most with little or no experience on a surfboard, got practically one-on-one attention from volunteers, who spent time teaching technique and the basic fundamentals of surfing.
The event, free and open to youth ages 8 and older, also provided all gear, including handmade surfboards and wetsuits — a necessity in the more chilly Oregon surf.
Over the last four years, the organization has been holding youth camps along the West Coast, primarily in Washington and Oregon. Since 2009, more than 300 wetsuits have been donated to organizations that provide underserved youth with access to the ocean, both locally and around the world.
The goal is to help youth build self-esteem, self-confidence and leadership skills, as well as teach stewardship, appreciation and education about ocean ecosystems.
The day began at 10 a.m. with youth getting geared up and learning basic technique before an hour of surfing from 11 a.m. to noon, with a pizza lunch provided by the Siuslaw Surfrider Chapter.
The next Youth Surf Camp will be Friday, July 21, at Devil’s Punchbowl State Park in Otter Rock, from 1 to 4 p.m.