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Posted by Rick Civelli | 08.08.2012 | Teen Camps

2012 Teen Hawaii Surf Camp – Matt Zeboor

The few minutes to relax while waiting for our last airport run has given me some time to reflect upon a trip that has been unforgettable. Fifteen teenagers from all over the U.S., Mexico, and Canada have come to the end of an adventure in a paradise that is difficult to say goodbye to. The people and culture of Oahu have opened the eyes of a very diverse crew of young adults. For me personally, I will miss the Hawaiian breeze and the amazing views of mountains, ocean, and cloud-filled skies.

When I think about all I have seen these teenagers do over the past two weeks, the surfing progression and growth in the water have been so satisfying to witness. The looks on their faces during their first pop-ups, the hoots they yell at each other on every wave, the stories they tell while wrapping leashes on shore, and the anticipation of their next day of surf have all kept my energy level at its highest despite two long weeks of driving a 15 passenger van full of teenagers. The complete stoke with which they lived each day of this trip is the reason I love this job.

During our wrap-up meeting last night, a 16-year-old camper gave her testimony of what the trip has meant for her, and the maturity and thoughtfulness of her statement caught me off guard. She reflected on our present situation of 15 teenagers being thrown together with a common love of the ocean, and how we all grew into a mutually supportive family. Despite the fact that we all have our own idiosyncrasies that might drive each other a little crazy sometimes, she appreciated the fact that we overcame those differences and all grew physically, mentally, and emotionally. Her observations caused me to look back upon our trip and see the growth that occurred beyond our surf experiences.

Our visit to Pearl Harbor gave the campers an appreciation for the history of our nation and the unimaginable destruction that our military experienced here. The teacher in me wished that my students could always be as engaged as our campers were while hearing the powerful stories of the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri. I am thankful that their inquisitive minds were able to quietly contemplate the wartime experiences of our country.

Our excursion to the Polynesian Cultural Center was another activity that inspired questions and opened minds. While watching the campers learn about all the island nations of Polynesia, I appreciated their opportunity to learn about the culture and traditions of so many different islands. The Polynesian focus on family and nature, and the many traditions of music and dance excited the campers and had them all talking about future surf trips to Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. It also emphasized the closeness of our Hawaiian family.

Finally, our visit to the Hawaii Nature Center and our hikes through the mountains and valleys had our campers physically challenged and mentally stimulated. Their community service hours of clearing invasive plants from the banks of the Nature Center’s creek showed me how caring and hard-working they could be. Knowing that their efforts would benefit kindergarten visitors in a few weeks drove them to complete a rigorous task with pride and amazing cooperation. I could not have been more proud of them that day.

My time here in Hawaii is coming to an end as I get ready to zip my suitcase and take my last van ride to the airport. Though my mind looks forward to the rest, relaxation, and comforts of home, my heart will forever yearn for all that Hawaii has given me and this amazing group of young surfers with whom I shared the aloha spirit.