Reflections Between Waves

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This Surfer Finds Meaning Between Waves & Doing Good

BY GRIFFIN HULKOWER

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

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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.

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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.

Yew!

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

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

2017-06-12T03:36:25+00:00
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Full length video released in BIO tomorrow! 
We cannot be more proud of Marialena Santos and all her accomplishments as a leader and teacher in Bahia Roja! 
This project was made possible thanks to @reef WE HEART program and @tyhaft ! Thank you REEF for coming down to Panama to make a difference in the local communities of Bocas del Toro. We spent an epic week with a crew of REEF employees that contributed not only this story, but a new playground for the Solarte Community! #WEHEART#GIVEANDSURF

Also special thanks to educationispower.net for making Marialena's dream to go to university and be a teacher possible! 🙏🙏🙏Help us ride 🏄 the strong 2017 support momentum into this year! 
Thanks for all you have done to help us and the Bocas community smile, learn and grow! 
LINK: https://www.razoo.com/organization/Give-And-Surf 
#giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #surf #surfing  #travel #grateful #givethanksLooking for internship opportunity? Gain meaningful hands on experience either on on-site in Bocas del Toro or by working remotely. Limited internships available for driven and compassionate leaders! For more info: http://giveandsurf.org/internshipspanama/
#giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteering #volunteerabroad #explore #boatlife #surf #surfing #travel #grateful #givethanksNo Uber necessary.
📷: @barkerfoto 
#giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #island #islandlife #boat #carefree #soakingupthesun #relaxed #getaway #surf #surfing #travel #grateful #givethanksTake the plunge this year and volunteer!

Learn more: give and surf.org/volunteer/ 📷: @barkerfoto with the @changingtidesfoundation Family!  #giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #volunteerwork #underwaterphotography #visitpanama #explore #surf #surfing #travel #grateful #givethanksJust one of the many small wonders in Bocas that inspire us. Blink and you'll miss it.  #giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #surf #surfing #travel #nature #mindfulness #grateful #givethanksThe great thing about Give & Surf is that it allows us to get to know the community and people we are helping. We want to start introducing you to the kids that you help support on a regular basis  #TinyToroThursdays🐂

Come to Bocas del Toro for the gorgeous sunsets and Edi's smile! 
Join the family: http://giveandsurf.org  #giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #preschool #kindergarten #surf #surfing #travel #grateful #givethanksThe learning and fun never ends when school does in Old Bank thanks to the @sunshineheroesfoundation community center! 
Keeping the kids engaged in mind and body, five days a week!  #giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #surf #surfing #travel #education #grateful #givethanksThere are so many ways to get involved with Give and Surf. Choose your own adventure as a volunteer, intern, gap year student, or as a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certified teacher!

Learn more at Giveandsurf.org  #giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #surf #surfing #travel #bluewater #splash #swim #chooseyourownadventure #adventure #grateful #givethanksCross that resolution to live abroad off your list! Get TEFL certified in 2018 and have the opportunity to teach and live abroad!

Apply Today: http://giveandsurf.org/tefl  #giveandsurf #panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #surf #surfing #travel #tefl #grateful #givethanksAlert to Friends of San Diego! 
Pave the 🌊 of STOKE and donate that surfboard you didn’t use all 2017 to a very deserving future ripper in Panama! 🏄🏾‍♂️🏄🏾‍♂️🏄🏾‍♂️
Thanks to the king of stoke @yehudabenhamo we are doing a surfboard drive for the next few weeks so leave a comment or DM Yehuda to get the drop off info in Leucadia! #donateaboard #staystoked #pavethestoke #giveandsurfWalk to the other side of the bridge and join us for a gap year in 2018!

Learn more: http://giveandsurf.org/gap-year-programpanama/

#panama #bocasdeltoro #giveback  #nonprofit #nonprofitlife #nonprofitorganization #volunteerlife #volunteer #volunteerabroad #explore #surf #surfing #travel #gapyear #grateful #givethanks

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