My first full day at surf camp started bright and early. I was not too keen to be roused from bed because at some point in the middle of the night temperatures had dropped below the comfortable low of 75 that I had been operating at, and it had woken me up and sent me scrambling for more blankets and extra articles of clothing. I woke up to a bright but brisk morning and a dull ache in my back and shoulders from being tightly curled in the fetal position all night under two blankets and my beach towel.
Breakfast was a relatively uneventful affair, cereal, fruit, toast, and some hot tea and then we all gathered around one of the surf instructors so that basic surfing technique and ocean etiquette could be explained to us.
We also went over the Mojo camp rules, highlights of which include “no anonymous weed smoking share what you got!”, “No shit music”, and “No nudity before 11 am”. Yeah I don’t think we’re at girl scout camp anymore Toto. We were then each given a wet suit and told to gather our things and head down to the beach. The beach we were at was stunning. Much like most of the beaches here there were rocky outcroppings and hills surrounding it, but this beach was much bigger than the small cove like beaches in Sydney and because we were so far out of the city it was very secluded and there was not a commercial establishment to be found. The first day we didn’t see another living soul on the beach. The weather was absolutely stunning the whole weekend, staying in the 80s with cloudless sunny days and cooler evenings.
Empty but beautiful beach as far as you can see
Crescent Head Coastline
Once we were on the beach we were shown proper technique for getting up onto the surf board and how to balance oneself once there. I thought we would get a chance to practice this before going into the water, but after having it demonstrated for us we were given surfboards and sent out into the waves. There were two surf instructors that went into the water with us to help instruct and make sure nobody drifted too far out as Australian rip tides take some getting used to. Everybody just started trying to surf, and if anyone struggled one of the instructors came over to help, usually by picking out a wave for you and then holding the back of your board to stabilize it while you tried to stand up. While balancing on the board takes some practice, I think the hardest part is picking the right wave and getting the timing right so that you can actually ride it in.
I was able to stand up a few times with the help of one of the instructors and then got the hang of it and was able to do it on my own as well. While all this is going on there is a mojo employee standing in the surf taking pictures of everyone with a long lens camera, and you can purchase these pictures at the end of the trip. I did this, but they have yet to be emailed to me, even though we were promised we would have them by monday morning after our weekend. So here are some pictures of me surfing, I was going to wait until I got the pictures sent to me, but its taking forever and patience has never been a strong suit of mine so here are the copies off the website. Pardon the water marks.
Getting a little help from an instructor
And I'm up!
Our first lesson was two hours long, and we had it on the north shore of the beach. After two hours were up we packed up and headed back to camp for lunch. While two hours may not seem like a long time, when you are surfing it really is. Playing in the ocean normally is exhausting, but when you are surfing you are constantly being pushed to the shore and then having to fight your way back out past where the waves are breaking. If you are just swimming, this is difficult but not that bad, but when you have an incredibly buoyant object tethered to your foot this process becomes far more difficult. Even if you manage to duck under a wave, the surf board is still on top of the water, and the wave is going to push it towards the shore and pull you along with it. Getting back out past the waves after you have ridden a wave in is the hardest part, and you are constantly doing this. Not only are you fighting the waves coming at you, but you are also fighting against the rip current which is pulling you towards the rocks, and you are doing this with a surf board and while wearing a wet suit which holds water and makes you heavier. By the time two hours of this is up I was exhausted and ready for some food.
After a hearty lunch and about an hour of lounging around and resting we all headed back down to the beach for our second two hour lesson of the day. For this lesson we moved from the north shore to Big Hill, a different section of the beach where the waves were much bigger.
I got fairly decent at standing up
While this was fun, it also meant that getting out past the waves each time was more difficult to do, and since we were already tired from our first lesson this meant that I wasn’t able to stay out in the water for the full two hours. The most important lesson I was ever taught about dealing with the ocean is if you start feeling tired, get out. While I felt bad not taking full advantage of the time we had to surf, I also remembered this and decided my safety was more important. After this lesson we went back to camp to dry off, shower and have dinner. Dinner was fantastic. I wasn’t expecting much in terms of food on this trip, but I was pleasanlty surprised. For dinner that night we had cheesey potatoes, salad, grilled steaks, and a three bean cold salad. I was the only vegetarian in the group, and for me they fixed a special plate with two huge vegetable kabobs that had been grilled, and a really good vegetarian hamburger pattie.
After dinner everyone got out the alcohol they had bought on the way to camp and headed out to a spot in the woods near the beach where a campfire had been started. I was asked to come along, but I had no intentions of doing this. I was EXHAUSTED. Due to my religious application of sunscreen every 2 hours I had avoided a sunburn, but my face was still freckled, and I was sore and absolutely drained. After dinner I brushed my teeth and crawled into bed. IT WAS 8:30 WHEN I WENT TO BED. In the world of me this is unheard of. The only time I am in bed this early is usually when I haven’t woken up yet (true story- its happened). I have no recollection of everyone coming back to the room around 3 am, turning on lights, changing, and generally being quite noisy. I was even told that some guy snored so bad that it woke up half the room and people started throwing things at him. I have no memory of any of this. Thats how tired I was. No wonder surfers are always so tried, its a HELL of a workout.