MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The weather was ideal for a day of surfing. The sun was high and shining bright, a nice warm breeze blew through the air and the water was cool to the skin; a great combination for day filled with fun. Although the North Carolina weather can be temperamental at times, there are still plenty of ideal days for surfing before the summer is over.
As Marines, sailors and their families gathered on Onslow Beach, the bright colored surf boards and swim suits speckled the area as they attended the Quiksilver Surf Camp held, Aug. 6.
The event was set up by the Marine Corps Exchange Headquarters Buying Office, in conjunction with the main exchange here. This year marked the third year Quiksilver has sponsored the free event for the base.
Surfers Wes Laine, Brad Harrell, Bernie Wheeler, Jay Williams and Jon Kleintop, were the instructors at the event teaching adults and children how to surf.
Laine was once in the top 10 of the Association of Surfing Professionals world tour. Now retired from professional surfing, Laine works for Quiksilver as director for surf camps.
“I enjoy this a lot,” said Laine. “It’s a way for us to give back. I love working with the kids. My favorite part is seeing the look on a kid’s face when they stand up on the board for the first time, it’s priceless. For a lot of these kids, this is the first time they’ve been in the ocean and on a surf board, and its fun to watch their expressions go from one of fear to one of joy as they learn to surf.”
The camp provided everything for the participants.
“The boards we are using are soft top boards,” said Laine. “They are made out of body board material and are much softer and safer for learning how to surf. The sizes of the boards range from 6-feet to 10-feet.”
Laine said they try to do the camp at least once a year and every year the turn out continues to grow.
“The idea for a surf camp was presented by a buyer and we jumped all over it,” said Bernie Wheeler, surfer and sales representative for Quiksilver. “Any time we can do a free camp, we love doing it for the Marine Corps. Who wouldn’t want to give back to the military? We love interacting with the kids, and we are all kids at heart. We look forward to coming back each year. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”
Wheeler said they are thinking about hosting two separate camps possibly over two days, a Roxy Surf Camp for the girls with female surfers to instruct, and a Quiksilver Surf Camp for the boys with male surfers to instruct.
“Seventy-five people participated with the surf camp this year,” said Carol McReynolds, softlines divisional manager with the exchange. “This is quite an event for Marines and their families. It’s a great and wonderful opportunity to surf with big name surfers. We don’t typically get too many vendors who will sponsor free events like this, and spend their time and money.”
It was easy to see by the smiles on their faces, that everyone who attended the event was in chipper spirits.
“This is my first time trying to surf,” said Bryce Dillon, an 8-year-old participant. “I really liked it, it was fun. Standing up on the board was pretty hard. It took me nine or 10 times before I could stand up for the first time, but I’m going to keep trying to surf.”
As the event concluded, participants slowly made their way to shore and the Quiksilver surfers grilled hotdogs for everyone.
“The biggest benefit from this event is it introduces kids to the beach life and surfing,” said Rowena Lee, main exchange manager. “It gets them out of their comfort zone, lets them know hands on, that any one can surf and builds memories that will last forever.”