As we celebrate the 4th of July, I would’ve been celebrating our 20th anniversary teen surf camps. It would’ve been opening day today. This is the first summer in 20 years that I don’t have 24 eager teenage girls and 12 staff in my care. These teen surf camps have become my family, a supportive community that has defined me for the past twenty years. MSG has tested me as a leader, teaching me to never give up or stop learning.
This is a collection of my favorite images of a camp tradition that embodies the spirit of MSG: our opening day ocean ceremony. It seems to capture that joyous sisterhood bond of a shared love and respect of the ocean and all the adventure that it brings into our lives.
Girls from all walks of life coming together holding hands in this circle is a potent moment. Some girls sitting on surfboards for the first time in their lives, while feeling supported holding hands with a new found friend at camp, who is equally shy and awkward on day one.
I’m definitely reflective on this day. I’m missing not sitting in this rejuvenating circle, washing off the stress of airport runs & weeks of camp planning.
I also grieve the loss of my sweet mom. I remember years of her telling me the day before camp starts, “Darlin’ I’ve sent the angels from Arkansas to Camp. Y’all are in good hands.” She’s now one of those angels protecting us, as I steer MSG, merit willing, into the next twenty years of surf camps.
I also want to honor Lucy Woodward for being not only a witness of 19 years of this wild journey and evolution of Maui Surfer Girls, but a consistent cheerleader (“stick with it Dustin” camp skit goofball & “organizer of our lives”, & how can we forget, “my second brain”.. Here here Lucy Woodward for dedicating over half of your years on this planet with all of us crazy Maui Surfer Girls!