Co-Founder/CEO at WAVES International
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The Inertia

Surf and volunteer on your next surf trip in 2013. Join the movement of surf philanthropy and surf activism.

I used to get the funniest looks in NYC when I told people I use surfing to make the world a better place. The nonprofit scene in New York is a vibrant one, but not exactly full of surfers. Not yet, at least. Nowadays I can get away with using voluntourism and surfing in the same sentence. And receive fewer funny looks.

Visionary surfers have been using surfing as a platform for over 25 years, like the Surfrider Foundation. Find a chapter near you, or start one. SurfAid has been addressing the ‘sucky-ness’ of Malaria and much more for over 10 years. Killing it. Waves for Water is going way beyond bringing water filters to remote places in the world. Stepping up in NY/NJ, W4W mobilized Sandy relief has been huge.

But then there’s an even newer breed of surf nonprofiteer that’s fueling the movement of surf philanthropy. Many are making strides toward connecting surfing and sustainable development. I happen to be a founder and director of one such organization, WAVES for Development – we believe surf travel should benefit the people and communities where it happens (starting in Northern Peru). Now starting our 5th year, programs focus on community outreach, environmental health and entrepreneurship empowerment. (Oh yeah, and we’re holding a social entrepreneurship contest to hire our next program lead – you could win a year in Peru).

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Ever wonder what you can do to help the local surf scene, beyond leaving a board, t-shirt, or wetsuit behind? Think about it. There are probably more organizations and people out there you’ve never heard of that can use your help. Besides surfing, what are you passionate about? Helping local kids w/ English or learn how to surf? Demonstrating and explaining your care for the environment? Permaculture? The importance of the coastal heritage of not only your home break but ones around the world? Health issues? Art? Video? Photography? There are, and have been, surfers addressing these issues and using these tools. Some for years. I challenge you to find one (or more) that you care about and be a part of.

Whether it’s helping out in your own backyard, with hurricane relief and beach clean-ups or, traveling to Africa, Indo, Latin America or wherever the movement is picking up steam. Below are some organizations and people I’ve come across over the years. Hopefully you’ll see one that gets you excited to get involved. Check them out. Fully aware there are likely others that I’ve either forgotten or don’t know about and should be added to the list – go for it in the comments.

Without further ado: a Liquid Future in Indonesia, Alto Peru in Peru, Best Day Foundation in the US, Beyond the Surface International with partners in India, South Africa and Peru, Center for Surf Research at SDSU, Christian Surfers International around the globe, Groundswell Society, Mision Mexico in Mexico, Operation Amped around US, Project WOO in Nicaragua, Resurf Project starting in Israel, Save the Waves around the world, Stoked Mentoring in NYC and LA, SurfAid mostly in Indonesia, Surf for Life in Central America, Surfrider Foundation with over 80 chapters around the world, Surf Resource Network in Liberia and the US, Surfers Against Sewage in the UK, Surfers Environmental Alliance based in CA & NJ, Surfers for Autism in Fla, Surfers for Cetaceans worldwide, Surfers Healing in US/Canada, Surfers Medical Association CA based, Surfers Without Borders from US, Surfing 4 Peace in the Middle East, Surfing Doctors from Australia, Surfing for Change in CA with global perspective, Sustainable Surf in CA and surf contests globally, Valpo Surf Project in Chile, Walu International in Papua New Guinea, Warm Current in the Pacific Northwest supporting projects in Africa and Latin America, WAVES for Development in Peru, Waves for Water around the globe, Waves of Health in the DR/Haiti, and WiLDCOAST in Baja California / Mexico.

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So what are you waiting for? Drop them an email, a phone call, a tweet or a message on their wall and let them know how you’d like to help. In the case that you have more money than time for volunteering, make a contribution to leverage those who do. They’ll be stoked. I know I would.

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