Home/Uncategorized/NEWSWAVE 2017


Eli Kurtz
Gap Year Volunteer

This past year, I was lucky enough to spend three short months of my life in Bocas del Toro, Panama, with the Give and Surf team. Back in June, after graduating high school, I had decided that I wanted to take a year off before going to college. With no defined plans, I kept the idea of making the most of my time front and center. It was amazing how a relatively short plane ride to Panama, took me from a place where I felt like the world moved around me indifferently, to somewhere where I felt I had a part to play. Not only that, but I noticed other patterns falling into place, as I continued my stay. I ate, but I ate differently than at home, catching lobster and fish that became my dinner. I slept, but differently, going to bed early and getting up even earlier so as not to let any part of the day go to waste. And I worked, but this was different too. Boating every morning through the mangroves to a small school, jutting out of the coastline into the bay, was relaxing. More relaxing than any other “work” I had done before. Not just relaxing, but meaningful as well. I genuinely impacted the community I lived in, in a positive way. And at the same time, I was discovering for myself a new way of living. The things I put my time and energy into seemed actually important. Whether teaching, surfing, fishing, hiking, or exploring, every activity engaged me in a way that was refreshing compared to how I had felt before arriving in Panama. I learned how to be present. This lesson is invaluable, and Give and Surf truly helped me get to where I am now, confident in my own abilities as I go forward.

Message from Neil

2016 left me feeling full of gratitude for the fluidity in which the Give & Surf ship sailed from start to end. This is thanks in large part to the “amazing crew” we have on board. It is incredible that as a team the operations of the organization seem to run seamlessly from day to day in such a challenging environment. This is a testament to everyone’s commitment to holding themselves responsible to giving their all to the people of Bocas del Toro. It has been so inspiring to see the outreach from others to join forces with us because they recognize the genuine devotion we all have to making the world a better place. You can’t fake this!I am incredibly proud of the sustainable direction we are steering into 2017. We are making a major commitment to getting local community leaders involved as we employ local teachers, submit our application for non-profit status in Panama, and drum up support from local and national government agencies.

Filled with gratitude,

Just some of 2016’s highlights!

  • Expansion of the scholarship program to over 40 high school and university students
  • Expansion of the Bahia Roja preschool to 5 days per week and addition of Marialena as a full-time lead teacher thanks to Education is Power!
  • Construction of the Boca del Drago two classroom primary school addition complete with solar-powered electricity
  • Construction of the new teacher’s house on Solarte
  • Construction of the Bahia Roja playground and water system
  • New Gap Year Program.
  • Over 200 volunteers joined us! Come Volunteer in 2017!


The Give & Surf Experience made by volunteer Sofia Santos of Portugal!

  • Zach Simon,  California
  • Eli Kurtz, Massachusetts
  • Spencer Gray, South Carolina
  • Joan Berger, Maryland
  • Jackie Bira,
  • Thomas Dempsey, California
  • Daniel Silveira & Melissa Richardson, California
  • Heather Dumford, Canada
  • Kelsey George, Texas
  • Francis MacGIllivary, UK
  • Eunho Lee, South Korea
  • Interns:  Dylan Vahradian, California
  • Olivia Daniels, Clemson University
  • Beryl Pereira, Benedictine University
  • Nakasi Herbert, University of Georgia


  • Dylan Vahradian, California
  • Olivia Daniels, Clemson University
  • Beryl Pereira, Benedictine University
  • Nakasi Herbert, University of Georgia

We are just a few weeks into the new year and already have some amazing projects planned! Come Volunteer and be a part of it all!


  • Old Bank Summer Camp & After-school Program at the Sunshine Heroes Community Center: thanks to the support of Sunshine Heroes Foundation we are providing summer camp at the center completed in last November!
  • Cristobal Community Center & Computer Lab: we are excited to be hosting the amazing group of Carl & friends again this year to complete this community center in February!
  • Cristobal Primary School Addition: Surf for Life will be joining us again in a few months to complete a much needed primary school for the deserving community of Cristobal.
  • Expanded extracurricular activities including more English classes, sports & enrichment classes, teen mentorship programs, & more!
  • Further expansion of the higher education scholarship program: February is the month to give to our continued education scholarships, we ask you to please consider providing the gift of education in 2017! Donate below ↓

February is Back-to-School month!  Our annual online campaign and Bocas event will raise money to support higher education scholarships.
If in Bocas please be sure to come to our 4th Annual Event!Special thanks to Mono Loco, Paki Point, and Bocas Bambu for your support!
We are already receiving donations at the below link! 


Eric Adams for making all the Giving December gifts and new uniforms for all of the Escuelita kids for the 2017 school year
Sunshine Heroes Foundation for funding a new summer camp and after-school programs in Old Bank for all of 2017!
Over 50 people who contributed to our Giving December Campaign. We raised over $12,000!
All those who donated to the purchase of a new motor! Special thanks to Education is Power for matching! 

Kristin Mein and Kaypea Jewelry for their amazing Give & Surf earring collaboration.

We are thrilled to be have three new faces join the team in 2017! 

Jaz joins the team as our Director of Education. Originally from Buenas Aires, Argentina. Jaz has a background in early childhood development through sports and has taught children skiing, wakeboarding, surfing, and paddle boarding. Her energy in and out of the classroom keeps the children (and volunteers) smiling and enjoying new experiences.
Our new volunteer house capitan Nico is making Bocas home as our Volunteer Coordinator. He will be guiding volunteers to epic adventures both in and out of the water in 2017!
We have Dylan to thank for the development of our cultural immersion workshop program. Mr. Dylan joined us as an intern this fall and is back to lend his skills and insight into making Give & Surf a better organization as our Development Coordinator!




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Girls of WOMP, Women's Outreach Mentorship Program, taking the podium during the inaugural COPA Féria Del Mar hosted by @bocaspaddlingcluband and held this past weekend in epic 🚣conditions! #wompbocas #giveandsurfWhat a beautiful day spent in Old Bank with the community thanks to program director Zuleika and her band of supporters! 
The day was presented with ❤️ to raise awareness of bullying and support the Aguilas Doradas, a character building program focused around expression and creativity! #giveandsurfVolunteer Story Time PART 3 with Taylor Love, @taylorklove, from the USA and volunteer from July 15th-August 15th 
What would you say to someone considering coming down here? 
GO! It’s a professional organization that truly serves the local people. The staff here are true leaders in the community! #giveandsurfVolunteer Story Time PART 2 with Taylor Love, @taylorklove, from the USA and volunteer from July 15th-August 15th 
Most memorable experience?

Too many favorite memories! My favorite was reading this animal book to the kids in BR. We all acted out every animal and I laughed until it hurt. #giveandsurfVolunteer Story Time PART 1 with Taylor Love, @taylorklove, age 27 from the USA and volunteer from July 15th-August 15th 
What drove you to come here?

I was looking for a volunteer opportunity in Central America. I found Give and Surf on the internet, did some YouTube research and decided I would love to volunteer with this fantastic organization. #giveandsurfNever lose touch with your inner child, the innocent part of you that thinks you will pop every bubble in sight! @sunshineheroesfoundation #giveandsurf ...
#panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #surf #surfing #travel #grateful #givethanks #gratitudeKids discovering happiness in education is an everyday affair at Old Bank's community center thanks to our dear partners and supporters of @sunshineheroesfoundation who not only funded the build of this beautiful center, but also the staff and program expenses to run a summer school, after school program, and more that never existed before a year and a half ago! #gratitude #giveandsurf¡Bailando! Gotta get the wiggles out somehow with these energetic pre-schoolers💃🏼❤️❤️#panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback #nonprofit 
#nonprofitlife #volunteerlife #volunteer #grateful #surfing #surf #nonprofitorganization #travel #explore #givethanks #volunteerabroadSending immense gratitude to Rose Johnson, @rose_grace2406, an intern this past summer who worked her tail off with Emilie, @emjstreet, to develop programs for our new community center on Isla Cristobal! 
She has this to say to anyone considering a volunteer or internship opportunity with us!

That it is an unbelievable experience and unlike most volunteer experiences and internships, Give and Surf allows you to have a deeper connection with the community. As an intern I was pleased with the fact that Give and Surf gave interns real responsibility which I think is rare within the internship world. Give and Surf is also a lot of fun and Bocas is a great place to work and play. #giveandsurfProud to announce that we have co-created ▿INDIGO BENEFIT FESTIVAL▿@indigo_festival a day of music, art, yoga, documentary, and more to celebrate life and raise money for education in Bocas Del Toro! 
The day features a gang of amazing musical performances and creatives from near and far who will convene on Encinitas to celebrate life under the Indigo sky!

Music Lineup ↠↠↠↠↠
Rambo []
Feather and Dot [@featherdotmusic] 
The Verigolds [@theverigolds]
Todo Mundo [@todomundoband]
The Moves Collective [@themovescollective]
Wicked Monk [@wicked_monk]
Andre Gallardo [@renchmonkey]
Grayson Schreiner [@thegreatsilversun] ▵Yoga and Market Lineups to come!▵ Made possible and supported by our favorites at
Culture Brewing [@culturebrewingco]
Eve Encinitas [@eveencinitas]
Ironsmith Coffee Roasters [@ironsmithcoffee]
Harvest Peace [@harvestpeace]
Head over to Facebook and search events for Indigo Benefit Festival or visit website

Don't be there, be here! #indigofestivalFeeling the stoke last month at Bluff with Alonso, an active, surf stoked member of our SOMP: Surf Outreah Mentorship Program led by none other than @guacamole13 #giveandsurfClass 🤡 ing around with our Bahia Roja preschoolers is a volunteer favorite! Make sure to express yourself and the infinite capacity of your imagination through humor this Monday! #giveandsurf

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