We Laughed, We Surfed, We Kicked Butt!

Saturday, August 24th, 11 kids took their first surfing lesson with Camp Kudzu South GA. The weather was perfect for this new program offering and there was no better place to be than on North Beach of Tybee Island to witness this amazing experience for our participants ages 8-18! Our participants included past campers, new campers from this summer and some who this would be their FIRST Camp Kudzu opportunity ever.

Each session started with a quick ground lesson to understand how to paddle, how to pop up and the proper stance for surfing. Immediately following the lesson on the sand, everyone checked their blood sugars before entering the water. Faces of hesitation moved quickly into faces of excitement as one by one the participants stood up and successfully rode into shore.

The morning session comprised of 6 participants 3rd -6th grade. The Go Pro footage caught amazing conversations on the water including one participant asking another about his Dexcom and one sharing a story with a surf instructor how him and his “best friend purposefully tipped a canoe while at session 2 of Camp Kudzu”, and then proceeded to laugh contagiously as he recalled the memory of his first week of camp this past summer.

Between the smiles and the laughter, it was very clear the importance this opportunity provided. Kids openly discussing their diabetes was impressive, out in the water, on a surfboard, waiting to catch their next big wave.

The afternoon session included four teenagers ages 15-18. The waves had picked up at this point, but in no way did it deter these teens from trying something new and different. The opportunity to get out of their comfort zone, challenge themselves both physically and mentally was impressive.

Towards the end of the afternoon session a few participants just wanted to sit on the beach and talk about what else they wanted to do as a community. They discussed how they are always looking for new and different low carb snacks and how they love to cook. Though we were technically there to surf, it was obvious that the sheer time to be around someone else living with diabetes provided a safe space to just be normal.

Our amazing group of volunteers, some veterans of Camp Kudzu; some brand new, help support the surf instructors by receiving the surfers at the beach, carrying their boards and sending them back out for another wave. I was blown away by their compassion and desire to make sure these kids had every chance to get up on those board during the day. Some traveling 5 hours that morning for this opportunity- What a group of cheerleaders!

Parents and families stood on the beach witnessing their child surfing also has a great time. Chatting and introducing themselves to one another proved to be a great way to build their own support system with other families who understand their journey.

As the Community Outreach Coordinator in Savannah, this event really hit all the areas I am looking to offer for a program. A place to build community amongst ourselves and others, as well as, inspire our kids to do something new, different and powerful. This event offered the time to educate each other and the community at large about what our families journeys look like and in the end, I am certain our day surfing has empowered these kids to know they can do anything.

I am extremely excited to offer this program again next year and serve more children living with type 1 diabetes.

A HUGE shout out to all the community who supported our Hang 10! Surfing program:

Tybee Surf Lessons
Everyday Diabetes Center
HucaPoos
North Island Surf and Kayak
Tybee Fire Rescue
The Original Crab Shack

See you on the water,

Cyndi Satlow
Community Outreach Coordinator , Savannah
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