One of the main goals at our teen surf camp has always been to create opportunities for leadership and personal development. In 2004 we launched our youth leadership program or “Counselor in Training” (CIT) program. Being selected as a CIT has become more and more competitive through the years, and quite an honor if selected.
We are excited to announce our 2016 CITs (listed with their hometowns), congratulations to:
- Montana Rynda- Toronto, Canada
- Bebe Engel – Saint Louis, Missouri
- Ava Barker – Elm Grove, Wisconsin
- Lane Radovan – Hanalei, Kauai via Park City, Utah
The CIT program is a month long – a one week leadership course followed by three weeks of helping run our surf camps. Their responsibilities as a CIT include two important camp roles. They are a “cabin mama” for the 4-5 campers in their cabin. Additionally, they are a “beach captain” that helps assist their assigned surf instructor with loading boards on our vans and providing encouragement and coaching to the girls in their surf pods. It’s a big job, as the CITs are on both during the day and night with the campers. If they do a great job, they are asked back as a 2nd year CIT and if they’re staff material, they are asked back for a paid position at camp. Through the years we’ve had about twenty-five CITs go through the program and six of those CITs have earn paid positions at camp. Lucy Woodward is now one of our highest paid camp staff, as a assistant Camp Director! We joke that Lucy is working her way up the corporate ladder at MSG!
The CIT program is also a great work experience to put on a resume or college application. I’ve written several college application reference letters for past CITs. I’m proud to say that two of our CITs have both gone on to attend Stanford University, Molly Ashkenas and Kit Ramgopal. I’d like to think that we played an important role in their continuing education.
The History of our CIT Program
In 2003, my best friend from college, Celine Russo, came out to help me run the camp. In 1999, we both graduated with degrees in Adventure Education and Wilderness Therapy. Celine just finished working for Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy based in Oregon. She led backpacking trips for kids with substance abuse or mental illness diagnosis’. Meanwhile, I also had experience leading canoeing and backpacking trips for at-risk teenagers at the Voyager Outward Bound school in Minnesota, as well as climbing trips for Camp Green Cove, an all girl summer camp in North Carolina. With both of our combined outdoor leadership experiences, we decided to create our own outdoor leadership program with Maui Surfer Girls.
In the spring of 2004, we explored the surf and camping spots on Kauai to host our 1st year CIT program that June. My godfather Mark Hubbard was kind enough to help us store camping gear and be our on-island resource and guide for our future Kauai surf trips.
Five CITs were selected our first year: Molly Askensas, Lucy Woodward, Beryl Manning, Marissa Gonzales and Hesper Shin. They were a great group of girls with leadership potential and an adventurous spirit. After all, we were beach camping on Kauai’s eastside and charging the challenging surf islandwide. It was the perfect balance of leadership training, while improving their surfing skills. My expertise was helping the girls develop their surf skills to be comfortable waterwomen. My goal was to guide them as potential surf coaches and cheerleaders alongside their surf instructors at camp. Celine helped lead journaling and experiential activities that helped the girls become aware of their leadership style and identify their strengths and weakness’ as leaders. Celine was a very skilled facilitator and always preached playing to ones strengths as a leader.
From 2005 onward, our CIT training was held primarily in Hana, Maui. We also took the girls on overnight camping trips and hikes into Haleakala. This became a great rite of passage, as some of our CITs had never done an overnight backpacking trip. Although Hana offered us a quiet retreat to facilitate leadership training, the surfing aspect seemed to get skunked for waves. So from 2014 onward we’ve been running our CIT leadership training trips based in Lahaina since the waves are more consistent for practicing their surfing skills.
Next summer we’ll be celebrating our 11th year of CIT programs!
Check out some of our favorite CIT pictures !!!