Sunday, August 22, 2010

Surfers Healing Camp 2010

Ashton has always loved the water. Granted, he might not always be the most happiest child in the water (washing his hair was a lovely job chore when he was much younger) but when he got a bit older (five or six-years-old) he had a blast sitting and playing in the water at the beach and/or lake. Over the last three or four years he's gotten more and more brave about going further out in the water and not being able to touch bottom. In fact, last month when we went camping, he'd wade out into water that was way over his head and without a care in the world. Yes, he had a life jacket on, as he can't swim (though he thinks he can ;))

Earlier this year, I had heard about a wonderful organization called Surfers Healing. For those of you that don't know what Surfers Healing is, it's a surf camp for autistic children. It was started by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz. You can read more about Surfers Healing and about why they do what they do at And to read about the local Surfers Healing team that we participated in, go to I figured with as much as a "water baby" as Ashton's become, that he might really like and enjoy this experience. Plus, it's free for the campers! After paying for three weeks of Camp Gonnawannagoagin, a free and fun option seemed like a wonderful idea! So, when the signup page went live in May, I got in right away and signed Ashton up. I heard within two weeks that he'd been accepted!

So, we anticipated this day all summer long and went about our daily lives. Well, the day finally arrived yesterday and Ashton was completely excited for "Surf Camp"! Got him dressed in his "surf gear" (rash guard and swim trunks) and got the car packed up and headed to Granny & Papa's to hitch a ride in their van as they were going with us.

We arrive at Virginia Beach Oceanfront and were immediately greeted by the excitement in the air. You could tell the day was going to be exciting and the weather could not have been more perfect! Hot (but not
too hot), sunny, and just a very light breeze blowing. PERFECT SURFING WEATHER! We were greeted by some volunteers who gave us a wheelbarrow to put all our stuff in (chairs, coolers, cameras, etc) and signed Ashton in and got his goodie bag and free tshirt (and us parents also got free tshirts!). We weren't there long before it was time for Ashton to gear up and get ready for his surf experience!

They put their life jackets on (we had brought Ashton's) and take their picture with their name and time they went out in the water. Then a volunteer came up to us, took Ashton's hand and walked him to the water where two more volunteers took him into the water to meet his surfer, Kalani. I couldn't see Ashton's face at this point but I know he was totally excited! He walked away from me without a care in the world. He didn't care that I wasn't with him! hahaha... independent kid! Ashton went out at 10:24; he came back in at 11:06. He had 40+ minutes of water time! 

He ended up getting to ride the board about 5 or 6 times (one time he rode it all the way onto the sand! lol) and his surfer, Kalani, helped him stand, twice! He spent a lot of time just floating on the board waiting for just the right wave to ride in on. Ashton definitely preferred laying on the board to standing, but you could tell he totally had a great time! Most amazing to me? I didn't see his hands flap or clap the entire time he was out in the water!

Thank you to Surfers Healing, Surfers Healing Virginia Beach, all of the volunteers, organizers, sponsors, surfers and all the other families and children for making this such a wonderful experience for our son! He got to experience something he likely would have never gotten to and he's looking forward to "tomorrow" next year! An especially HUGE THANK YOU to my son's surfer, Kalani! What a wonderful soul; patient, kind, caring and a big teddy bear to boot! Ashton will always refer to you as the "blue surfer"!

And now, for the pics.... (I might be adding one more of Ashton with his tshirt on and with a picture of his lei/medal).

Getting walked out to the water with some volunteers

Ashton & Kalani (aka. the Blue Surfer)

waiting to go back out on the surf board

floating on the board

Riding a small wave in! Ohhhh!

Kalani, trying to "help" Ashton stand!

Ashton getting a hug from Kalani, his surfer

Ashton with his lei/medal (that you can't see, oops!)

hope, surf, heal ~ let's ride!