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WB Surf Camp Team

Rick Civelli

Rick Civelli

Founder / President

Read Rick's Bio

As a kid, Rick Civelli spent his summers clamming, fishing, and of course surfing. Without realizing it, his appreciation for environmental conservation was ingrained before his teens. He graduated from UNC-Wilmington with his Bachelors in Environmental Studies. During college and after graduation he worked as a marine science educator at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. For three years he developed and facilitated programs while teaching thousands of adults and children about the wonders of our coastal ecosystems. During both his undergraduate and graduate studies, he was an assistant director for UNCW’s Marine Science Summer Camp Program.

To broaden his professional development he later worked as a permit and enforcement officer for the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management. Taking a different approach to environmental conservation, he reviewed and permitted coastal development projects, and issued fines for remediation of impacted coastal resources. Rick sat on the Board of Directors for the Society of Masonboro Island and is a member the Surfrider Foundation, and the NC Aquarium Society. He also spent 3 years pursuing a Masters Degree in Coastal Geology from UNC-Wilmington’s Center for Marine Science where he studied coastal processes.

In the winter of 1995, Rick developed a marine science educational learn to surf program for our local aquarium which he called “Surf’s Up”. Since then he has taught thousands of students of all ages the sport of surfing while enlightening them of the wonders of our coastal environment.

His travels have brought him to surf and study coastal processes and habitats all over the world. He has explored coral reefs in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Anegada, Antigua, Bermuda, Jost Van Dyke, St Lucia, St Thomas, St John, and St Martin. He has swam with sea turtles in, Tortola, Baja Mexico, Barbados, and Costa Rica, sharks in Looe Key national marine sanctuary, sting rays in the Bahamas, and dolphins off Key West Florida. He has surfed up and down the east coast from Nantucket to Block Island to Cape Hatteras to Sebastian inlet. He has also caught many epic swells on the West coast from Morro Bay to Tourmaline San Diego. On several occasions Rick has also ventured to the North Shore of Oahu, where he visited famous surf breaks including Waimea Bay, Pipeline, Sunset and Sandy Beach. He was also lucky enough to see the huge Dec 2002 swell hit with up to 60′ faces!

With his love for surfing and utmost respect for the ocean and it’s resources, Rick has developed this unparalleled fun experience known as “WB Surf Camp.”

Jen Civelli

Jen Civelli

Founder / Vice President

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Jen’s first experience with sea turtles was the beginning of a lifelong commitment to sea turtle conservation and taking care of our oceanic resources.  She started volunteering at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Hospital & Rehabilitation Center in 2001.

Jen has fifteen years of experience in higher education as an instructor of Chemistry at both Cape Fear Community College and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  Jen loves to teach and educate today’s youth and young adult population, especially in the field of sea turtles and coastal conservation.

Jen’s passion for the marine environment started living along the California coast while in college.  Jen received her Bachelors’ degree in Biochemistry from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.  Her passion followed her to San Diego State University where she earned her Master’s Degree in Chemistry.

Jen loves to travel and experience new environments and cultures.  She especially loves warm-water surf destinations where she can spend time in the water with her husband, two sons, and two dogs.  Jen can often be found on a sporting field cheering on her boys’ games!

Tim Pirkey

Tim Pirkey

Operations Director

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After graduating from Northern AZ Univ. with a degree in Speech Pathology, Tim began his camp career in San Diego with YMCA Camp Marston. After a summer camp season there, he transferred to Camp Surf, staying for 12 years. He developed his leadership style while helping staff and participants enjoy a safe and fun experience. Tim leads with a fair, calm, capable style that lends itself to a learning environment.

Tim has a very strong background in public safety, lifeguarding and situational awareness. Having been a Red Cross and USLA certified lifeguard for nearly 30 years, he enjoys teaching and maintaining camper and staff health and safety. He loves surfing but doesn’t need perfect waves, as it’s more about just being out in the water for him.

Tim’s other interests include mountain biking, road cycling, swimming, cooking, gardening and reading. He played collegiate volleyball and has an extensive coaching background in youth club volleyball. He and his wife Kristie (also a collegiate volleyball player) are animal lovers, with two rescued ‘fur-babies’ for the moment and plans to adopt more in the future.

Blake Brown

Blake Brown

Program Coordinator

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Born and raised in the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina, Blake has been in and out of tidal salt marshes and on Carolina beaches his entire life. As a kid, his days were spent surfing, playing beach volleyball, spearfishing for flounder and hanging out under the town pier.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina, Blake immediately began working for X-Treme Surf & Skateboard Co. in Myrtle Beach, SC. It was here where he first began giving surf lessons and found his passion for teaching others the surfing and ocean lifestyle. After seven years of managing a high-volume surf/skate shop and starting the company’s learn to surf program, he transferred to Surf The Earth Inc. in Pawleys Island, SC.  Here, Blake helped to build an incredibly successful eco-tourism program which included surf lessons and surf camps, as well as kayak and standup paddleboard tours and lessons.

Along with teaching others about the ocean, Blake’s passions include modern art and film photography using vintage cameras. Blake has been creating and displaying contemporary art since he can remember and finds solace inside art galleries. He also enjoys vegetable gardening and growing his own healthy food. Blake serves on the board of the non-profit Surf  Dreams Foundation that gives disadvantaged youth the knowledge and equipment needed to start surfing. Blake can always be found with his spotted, fury sidekick, a beautiful Dalmatian named Allie.

Rebecca McWhorter

Rebecca McWhorter

Program Director

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Rebecca’s experience working with youth and camps combined with her love for the ocean sparked her interest in working at WB Surf Camp. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia holding both her Bachelor and Masters degrees.

The first time Rebecca moved to the coast she knew she wanted to spend as much time under the water as possible. This spurned her interest in SCUBA diving and she took the plunge and got her open water scuba certification.

Rebecca’s camp management experience includes the YWCO Camp for Girls, YMCA Camp Ocoee and Seacamp. Her time working in the Florida Keys with Seacamp afforded her the opportunity to become certified as a NAUI Rescue Diver and become certified as an American Red Cross Lifeguarding Instructor.

In addition to her time working at camps, Rebecca worked in youth volunteer engagement for Habitat for Humanity. Here she had the opportunity to integrate her passion for travel and volunteer service, developing volunteer programs and leading service learning trips both domestically and internationally.

Liz Shirley

Liz Shirley

Program Coordinator

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Liz’s passion for the outdoors and protecting wild, open spaces began as a teenager.  Her enthusiasm has continued to grow, with over a decade of professional camp experience.  Most recently, Liz worked as a Camp Director for the Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast.  Liz’s professional camp and youth development experience also includes working with The AnBryce Foundation, YMCA Camp Widjiwagan, Wilderness Inquiry and numerous summer camps, environmental education centers and wilderness programs throughout the country.

As a guide, leading backcountry canoe, kayak and backpacking trips, Liz first saw the transformative nature of outdoor programming and its ability to create life-changing experiences.  Through her professional experiences in the outdoors, Liz developed a strong background in staff development, program design and risk management.  She is a certified Wilderness First Responder and Lifeguard.

Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a minor in Leisure Services from Oklahoma State University.  When not planning summer camp, Liz can be found cooking, reading, trail running and exploring the world by foot, pack and paddle!

WB Surf Camp Team

At WB Surf Camp, our team consists of certified surf instructors, camp counselors, and a second to none office staff who bring with them unique experiences, knowledge, and skills. Every instructor is required to go through our extensive training and certification program prior to the start of each season. All overnight camp instructors must be certified in CPR for the Professional Rescuer, Lifeguarding, and First Aid. Together, our employees have over 300 years of surfing experience. Last season we invested over 1,800 hours of professional training into our team to ensure your safe and quality learn to surf experience.

Employment at WB Surf Camp is extremely competitive. Each year we sift through hundreds of applications to select our elite team! All potential instructors must go through our intense three-part interview process, comprehensive background check, and 500 yard open ocean swim test. WB Surf Camp’s founder, Rick Civelli, plays a fundamental role in the hiring and training of each Surf Camp team member.

Our staff includes college professors, high school teachers, marine biologists, and graduate students, to name a few. Our mission statement of environmental conservation is shared by all of us, which is why most of instructors have degrees in marine or recreational sciences.