Beach Rays Interview

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give and surf

We recently featured Give and Surf, a non-profit based in Panama, who’s mission is to empower the people of Bocas del Toro, through education, infrastructure and surf. After reading the article we had posted, Neil (founder of G ive and Surf) made contact with us and we were able to learn more about him personally as well as the great initiatives the organization is conducting. This is what he had to say…

Where did your love for surf come from and what is your earliest surf memory?
My love of surfing and the ocean started in the quintessential Jersey Shore town of Deauville Beach. Thanks granddaddy for being a genius and building this sea cottage fifty-five years ago. As for my early childhood it was spent doing all things Jersey: drizzle castles, sandy pants, yelling ice cream man, shake and baking friends, and surfing on my boogey board. That’s how kids started surfing when I was a child, not air reverses before the age of braces. For us it was surf on your boogey board until you were too heavy to do so anymore and then take out your brother’s Christian Fletcher Model T&C. So this upgrade came at the age of 12 and I was immediately hooked to a life in which surfing dictated all decisions. I spent the next 6 years in Jersey with great friends having too much fun through flat spells and obsessing over when the wind would blow hard enough to bring mediocre waves followed by one day of epic off shore surf. From there surfing directed my life to places all over the world and eventually landed me in Panama. On a side note Sandy destroyed my town, but not my memories. Things have forever been redefined on the Jersey Shore after this storm and I am looking forward to seeing things improve! Jersey Strong.


What made you leave everything behind in San Diego and head off to Panama to start Give and Surf?
Most would take a snap shot of my life before Panama and classify it as ideal. It was, I lived a block from the ocean in the most beautiful area of San Diego with a high paying, stress free job and surrounded by great friends. There were no complaints and it was the lack of challenges I faced that pushed me to make this decision. I wanted the challenge to help others for a living and do so in my own style. Since the day I put my big boy pants on and started working in the real world, I wanted to do something I could call my own that would benefit and empower someone/something, I just did not know what. So I planned to find out what this was by quitting my job and volunteering in places I could surf. Sitting behind my computer I did not find what I was looking for and ding, the light bulb went off and I decided do it myself. After that it was all over.

How has the organization evolved since its inception?
Starting the organization was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It took a serious toll on me physically and mentally, but from day one fulfilled me in a way I had never felt before. I was stoked. Not because the waves were perfect or sunsets were pretty (which they were), but because I was feeling whole through connecting with people I would otherwise never connect with had this wacky idea never came about. The first two years were incredibly challenging. I personally funded the organization and it lacked support, awareness, resources, and volunteers, but I stayed committed. In the last six months the switch turned on in a big way and things have really come together. The people spoke and volunteers came. To make a long list short we have man handled the following: daily preschool, summer school, after-school program, daily English classes and constructing the following: new school in Bahia Roja, new library, community garden, two bathroom septic tanks, school cafeteria, and much more. This was made possible from groups and volunteers visiting us from around the world. I am still left searching for more support and improving the programs and this keeps me hungry.


How has surfing empowered the kids of Panama?
This is not applicable as our programs are not surf related. The surfing component of the organization is for volunteers to learn to surf. In the future I have plans of adding a surf outreach program for the indigenous children, but at this point we have not involved the children with surfing.

Give and Surf is currently in the process of constructing school buildings, can give us the full details on the project?
Sure thing! We have just finished building a gem of a school for the Bahia Roja community. It was fundraised by a group of high schoolers from Gill St. Bernards who volunteered with us in May. These awesome kids and our family of supporters raised over $10,000 to provide a proper school for the deserving children of this community. They were previously taught in a collapsed school building so this upgrade is a huge addition to education in this indigenous community. In just three weeks we completed the schools, big ups to Daniel,Delfina, Eddie, all the volunteers, and the community of Bahia Roja for all your hard work!


Any exciting projects happening in the near future?
The most exciting project we are starting is a music program. It is a long time coming and we are thrilled to make rock stars of the children this summer. We hosted a fundraiser months ago and past volunteers Antoonia, Annette, and Amy showed up in a big way raising over $2,500. We are ready to rock with loads of ukuleles, recorders, bongos, guitars, small percussions, and a full drum set. As I am in the states doing less exciting development work, our team on the ground will be starting this program. An infinite number of thanks goes to Daniel David and Logan Roth for getting this program off the ground. Further down the road we will build a team of interns to work with us domestically and in Panama. This means developing partnerships with universities and offering college students and recent graduates the opportunity to gain work experiences in fields related to their interests and majors. Internships will include teaching, non-profit business development, and community outreach opportunities.

Be here! Este Viernes para beneficiar la educación en Bocas del Toro, Panamá.

Póngase en contacto con Casa Nolita para hacer su reserva.

La noche incluye comida por Javier Lamarca de El Mercadito Biologico, un bar abierto, y un after party (desliza hacia la derecha) para celebrar el Birthday Boy @ciciliani!Sending✌🏾to the world from Bocas Del Toro 🇵🇦! 📷 : @barkerfoto 
#giveandsurfTake the leap in 2018 to join us as a volunteer, intern, gap year student, or one of our TEFL (teach English as a foreign language) courses! 
Learn more at to dive in! 🌊#giveandsurf 🌊Come be a part of our world at Give & Surf! 🙏
¡Ven a ser parte de nuestro mundo en Give & Surf! 🙏
#giveandsurf 🎥 por Isa {@sisamitty}Splish splashing around with Dora and her Bahia Roja classmates during our monthly field trip! 
At Give & Surf we focus on opening our students up to feeling comfortable in and around the water whether it is in our preschools, SOMP: surf outreach mentorship program, WOMP: women’s outreach mentor ship program, or our swim program! 
We have had the pleasure of teaching over 80 children how to swim, surf, and stand up paddle board! #staysalty #giveandsurfA standing ovation to the Jones’ Family who came down two weeks ago to not only share some Panama good times with their son, friend, brother, and our volunteer coordinator @party_over_here7, but who also whipped up this beautiful remake of the Bahia Honda bathroom and water system! 🙏
Good choice of color too! #gratitude #giveandsurfWe are riding high! New Give and Surf vessel is on its way 🏠! Dream Boat made possible by @blueparroteasthampton and ambassadors @ashleigh_s_rodman and @caverodman 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏! We are over the moon excited to see all that will be made possible in the years to come for education in Bocas because of our new 🚣‍♀️! #gratitudeAs part of Old Bank’s after school program we have introduced Zuli’s students to life on the water. Here we are SUPing thanks to our partners @changingtidesfoundation! #giveandsurfSurround yourself with people who reflect what you want to be just like the 🌊 and 🌌 are with one another! 
Thank you to all those that made #GivingTuesday a day of gratitude as we reflect on all that has been made possible by our family of support this year. 
Every year we roll #GivingTuesday in #GivingDecember so our fundraiser in our profile and link,, is open to receive your support till the end of the year! #gratitude #giveandsurfJust a few hours left to be part of our #GivingTuesday! 🙏and 👏 to all those that have give thus far on this all important day that supports non-profits around the world! #gratitude

Check link in bio 🔝Please consider giving ❤️ to your favorite non-profit on this #GivingTuesday! 
Just $10 will feed 30+ preschoolers for a day of education and fun at school! 
LINK in bio 🔝
#giveandsurfA very sweet morning alert that Giving Tuesday is TODAY; an internationally celebrated day to support non-profits from around the world!

Every year we at Give & Surf ask our supporters on this day to support our continued efforts with a donation to leave the world a better place for the communities and individuals we cherish in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Link in Bio🔝

Every individual who donates $50 or more will receive a special hand-crafted token of our appreciation by longtime ambassador Eric Adams! #giveandsurf #givingtuesday

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