Reflections Between Waves

Home/Uncategorized/Reflections Between Waves

This Surfer Finds Meaning Between Waves & Doing Good


Give and Surf Panama Bocas del Toro Griffin surf

Finding Common Ground: Reflections Between Waves in Bocas Del Toro 

One of the main reasons that I chose to come to Bocas was the close proximity of good waves and good vibes. My gap year is feeling triumphant as I continue to have great experiences on the road. With regards to the “giving” aspect of Give and Surf, I have helped out at escuelita (the Give and Surf school) and have been a part of the Surf Outreach Mentorship Program as well. Neil Christiansen has teamed up with Juan David Issac of Mono Loco Surf School to make it possible for local kids in the community of Bahia Roja to surf three times a week. With boards donated by other organizations, Mono Loco, and travelers passing the torch on to the next wave of rippers, we have the foundation of a great program (including enthusiastic volunteers).

SEE ALSO: Behind Give And Surf: Why I Chose To Be An Ambassador


The first day of the program, I was plucked from my dock at 9:00 a.m. island time to be greeted by the kids. Introductions came through a few ‘holas’ over the sounds of the boat engine. We pitter-pattered across the surf to Mono Loco. Neil and Juan David allocated about an hour to properly introduce the group, program, safety, and surfing etiquette. The first session was heaps of fun. All of the kids varied in abilities from having surfed once or twice – to more – to never. My partner was one of the most experienced ones, so I felt less guilty about taking waves for myself, only after he caught one. Enselmo and I spoke briefly between waves. I would either offer tips or make small talk. After the session I reflected on the experience; the initial thoughts rotated around my awkward conversations in rusty Spanish and how reserved the kids seemed to be.

Give and Surf Panama Bocas del Toro Griffin volunteer

Since that first session I have grown to understand the reservations I encountered with some of the indigenous people on Bocas. I learned that a great deal of rich gringos have taken advantage of those we work with, whether it be in pursuit of a development project or as their employer. I understand now that even though you come with great intentions and are willing to give, it does not mean that the people you intend to help are going to greet you with open arms and immediate gratitude. It takes time to build relationships especially when someone has been wronged in the past. After being here for over a week now, I feel like I am settling in. I know more names and faces, and continue to learn about so many people I come across, especially the group of surfers.


I think that people tend to idealize the notion of volunteering as bringing forth some great epiphany. This seems to be true in some cases, but I feel my experience has been much more subtle. Totally immersed in nature, surfing allows you to share something with those around you. I am able to settle on common liquid with kids from completely different socio-economic statuses and social norms. In times of grief and turbulent waters I found relief in surfing. I was able to be present and appreciate what is in front of me, despite an underlying discontentment with my situation. Now, to see these kids completely hooked and wanting more, I am faithful that this group is tapping into the same relief from life’s harsh reality. The drive to give yourself to the sport is extremely powerful. The hunger for improvement is only temporarily quenched and returns anew, perhaps stronger.

Words do injustice to fully convey the experience of surfing. Therefore, sharing it with someone else gives your specific relationship something unique, a feeling that is understood, something beneath the surface that is pure joy. As long as surfing is passed on, joy will follow. Neil, the other volunteers, the kids, every surfer, and I will continue the sport as long as possible. In a world that is in a constant flux, we are graced with the experience and its eternal existence. Surfing is an eternal force. It brings happiness, wisdom, relief and opportunity. Something this rich will never die.


Learn more about Give and Surf programs & volunteer opportunities in Bocas del Toro.

Make a tax-deductible donation through our Fuel The Future fundraiser.

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

Stay Connected And Join Our Newsletter!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest Give & Surf news

You have Successfully Subscribed!