It’s the moment when a surfer first stands up on a board that sticks out in their memory. The moment when a surfer is no longer shaky, when they bend their knees with their feet flat on the board and look ahead, gliding through torrents crashing around them. It’s the moment that truly draws a surfer in.
The surfer stands on top of one of the most powerful forces in the world and navigates through it, experiencing control of the elements difficult to find elsewhere. It is truly a wonder how surfing can become integral to a person’s life.
The community aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is made up of people from different walks of life, some of which have spent their whole lives on a surf board and others who have never seen an ocean before their arrival to the area.
Surfing brings a sense of self-assuredness to a person, along with an increase in self-esteem, said Cpl. Chase Dale, an anti-tank missileman with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and a frequent, longtime surfer. He noted how surfing increases one’s physical attributes as well their mental strength, by building endurance and stamina.
Dale has been surfing since his youth and spends most weekends on the coast. As a southern California native, surfing was a part of his curriculum in school. He finds surfing is a great, positive (sport) and provides a great workout.
“Surfing is exhilarating,” said Dale. “There’s no other feeling in the world like standing up and riding a wave. It’s an intense adrenaline rush. It’s something you have to feel for yourself.”
Dale said surfing is also a humbling experience. While it boosts your confidence when you conquer a wave, the conditions always change and you never ride the same wave twice.
“It keeps you from getting cocky,” Dale said.
Onslow Beach brought Indo Jax Surf School, based in Wilmington, N.C., aboard the base to give members of the community the opportunity to experience surfing.
The school rents surf boards to beach patrons, along with holding a variety of classes to teach all aspects of the military community about surfing.
Chris Usry, the manager of Onslow Beach, noticed steady requests for surfing classes and surf board rentals throughout her three years at Onslow Beach.
“We’ve been trying to find a surf instructor for a couple of seasons,” said Usry. “We kept hitting walls, but eventually we got lucky. Indo Jax Surf School reached out to us. (Jack Viorel, the owner,) wanted to come out and get involved with the base. He has a really great interest.”
Indo Jax is a charity driven organization that reaches out to many. They hold surfing classes and workshops for orphans in India as well as teaching classes for children with autism, cystic fibrosis and the visually impaired.
Aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, the surf school holds private surf lessons, group classes and a surfing day camp for children. They also hold Na Lu Warriors, a free surf therapy program for wounded warriors.
“It seems like a good fit,” said Viorel. “I feel like we have a lot to offer the base. We have a nonprofit organization along with our business so we were able to offer (some) free programs.”
The Surfing Safari Camp is a traditional surf camp for children 8 years old and older held 9 to 11 a.m. The camp began June 11 and is scheduled to continue until August 24. The cost of the camp is based on the parent or sponsor’s rank, discounts are offered for multiple children who live in the same household.
“The program gives children a positive outlet to get attached to,” said Viorel. Viorel added some of his instructors spent their childhoods in the military community, and now act as positive role models to the children. Some became involved in surfing to help handle the stress of a parent’s deployment.
All instructors wear uniforms, are trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. They go through a highly competitive probationary period before they are hired. Viorel said his instructors are good surfers, patient and understanding to a student’s needs.
Na Lu Warriors is scheduled every Friday 10 a.m. to noon. It offers wounded warriors a low-impact sport that is very active and exciting, said Viorel. It can help boost morale to service members faced with limitations.
There is also a free project for the children of deployed service members in the works called the Kamali’l Surf Camp. They hope to focus on the therapeutic values of the ocean. The two-day camp is looking to open to 25 children who complete a small essay about their deployed parent.
“Surfing is pretty hard, but once you get the hang of it you feel like you can do anything,” said Dale. “People say they’re scared of the water or they are scared of sharks, but I guarantee once you get out on the water and stand up, you’re going to be hooked. I’ve taught a lot of people how to surf and they still do it because they absolutely love it. Surfing is an amazing feeling.”
For more information about surfing programs available aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, contact Onslow Beach at 440-6546 or visit www.mccslejeune.com/beach. For more information about Kamali’l Surf Camp, email Chris Usry at firstname.lastname@example.org.