Posted by Rick Civelli | 07.30.2008 | Teen Camps
2008 Teen Costa Rica
Our Costa Rica Teen Camp started with a collective gathering of the campers and I in the Atlanta airport. After several round trips of goofing off riding the terminal train and getting to know each other, we boarded our plane headed for Liberia. Landing in a foreign country, not knowing what to expect, is always a thrilling experience as I read these expressions from the faces of the campers. All the campers were stoked to be here and excited to be living in the moment, waiting to see what could happen next. A car ride in a third world country alone can be an adventure in itself. Once in Tamarindo, we unloaded at our oceanfront hotel. The place was incredible, not to mention its location on one of the best beginner and longboard waves around. We immediately went for an all out shred fest straight out from the camp.
What was unique about this trip was the privilege of having a few experienced campers who already knew how to surf and were simply looking to experience new and better waves. Four campers and I took off the next morning in search of a better wave south at Avellanas. Without a guide our first day, we decided to explore and ended up finding a sick left reeling off the reef to the left. Nobody was on it, as we soon found out why, with the tide dropping and parts of the reef becoming exposed, we each caught a few steep drainers to the inside and finished the session off over on main beach. This trip back to camp got our hopes up for the days ahead as our driver explained that a swell was supposed to hit in the next day or so. We always finished off each day with a session out front in Tamarindo and an amazing local meal consisting of everything fresh you could imagine.
The next day we scored Playa Grande to the north head high with only one other person out. David was our local guide and stoked to be surfing with us as well as we were with him. Some barrels, airs, and meaty goodness were bountifully shared amongst all six of us. We were awakened to Day 3 to the arrival of the much anticipated swell. A quick decision with the helpful staff at our hotel ensured that we would score. And that we did at a more renowned local spot called Marbella. The ominously dark pebble beach set the tone for the double overhead gnar beach break that lay before us. We never realized how incredibly heavy the wave was until we made it out and the first set came out the back, catching us all off guard. Luckily, we had local shredder Luis with us. After some of the biggest, heaviest surf of our lives and some humbling moments, we decided to head further north to “Little Hawaii,” a short jog across a river mouth from Avellanas. This wave was incredible. Holding the size, Little Hawaii was a reef/point break that wrapped in between two underwater rock formations emptying you a couple hundred yards down the reef in a little sandy beach. The hollow first section followed by a rippable shoulder workable all the way into the inside had all the boys pushing their surfing to the next level.
Marbella was the call once again the next day as we surfed countless hours with some friends we met from Cali. Pictures taken, barrel after barrel shared, and coconuts and stories passed around on the beach afterward characterized this day in paradise.
Each afternoon we would meet up with Jenn, Taryn, and the other campers and have yet another Tamarindo session, sharing stories about the day. We also decided to go on several adventures. The canopy tour through the jungle following an epic quad adventure up the mountain was amazing. Monkeys, kids, ziplines, and shenanigans made for a unique and unforgettable experience. More amazing surf followed with the swell remaining head high for the next couple days.
Next, a boat ride to the much anticipated Ollie’s Point and Witch’s Rock greeted us with an amazing backdrop of giant headlands lining the coast, sea turtles swimming on the surface, and tuna feeding off a bait ball only a couple hundred yards off the coast. One look at Ollie’s and we were in the water within seconds. The wave was perfect with a first section so hollow you could pull in and eat a ham sandwich, followed by a racy section that opened up into a destroyable wall all the way into the bay. We surfed until our legs were jelly and headed to Witch’s Rock. It was awesome being able to surf these amazing waves we grew up seeing in movies with this group of campers stoked on every perfect wave that rolled through. Despite the millions of jellyfish, we surfed for several hours as overhead sets rolled through with a dead wind. The conditions were perfect. The afternoon followed up with an incredible sunset snorkel cruise with the rest of the group where we explored the reef, made new friends, and Jenn and Taryn took turns hassling me for everything imaginable. I would not have had it any other way.
Our final group session consisted of perfect clean chest high Avellanas with Rafa behind the lens capturing memories for us all. The next morning we were up dawn patrolling La Cacita just across the river from Tamarindo before we had to board planes for our trip back to reality. Above all, the trip was an amazing time for all the campers and counselors to improve our surfing, make new friends, experience a different culture, and take a moment to realize how blessed we truly are to be able to share the simple joys of surfing and life with people around the world.