A few weeks ago, I signed up to go to surf camp. With a “$100 off surf camp” voucher and the excitement of finally learning to surf, I was ready to rumble. Little did I know that the reason it was such a bargain was because well…it’s winter in Australia. The main day of surfing ended up being somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees.
On Friday night we arrived after a four-hour bus ride to camp and immediately had to get into groups of 7 so that we could get into our cabins since it was SO COLD. I ended up rooming with a few girls from my study abroad program, a few from USYD, and one from the University of Wollongong. We promptly named our room of course. We were Hotzone/Bikini Bottoms because we never really decided. Shout out to room 6!
Saturday morning, we woke up at 8:30 AM to eat breakfast. There I met my surf instructor Jack. He is an amazing guitarist, which made being awake at 8:30 a little more bearable. By 9:30, we were (supposed to be) in our wetsuits. Let me tell you, putting on a damp wetsuit when it is 50-some degrees outside is not fun.
Surf Camp was in a town called Gerringong, New South Wales, right along Seven Mile Beach (such a clever name right?) and was perfect for beginners because there plenty of room, well kind of. A group of about 40 college students were broken into groups of 10 with an instructor. Jack has lived in Gerringong all his life and grew up surfing on Seven Mile. He taught us the basics and sent us out into the water.
We experienced offshore wind, which means that the wind was blowing towards the shore making the waves crazy. Katie + insane winds + a 7 foot 4 surfboard = a small girl being blown across the beach. But in the first session of the day, I managed to get hit in the head with someone else’s surfboard, potentially break my toe, and stand up on my own!
If I thought getting up early to go surfing was hard, going surfing again while you’re already cold and wet is 500 times harder. Mustering up the strength to put on my still dripping wetsuit was easily the hardest thing I did all weekend. This run was absolutely amazing. Though the winds were still bad, we surfed with the sunset. I wish that I had a mental snapshot to share with you all because it was amazing. On my very last wave, I landed a 180, which is where you jump and switch your feet on the board. When we got back for dinner, I ate an insane amount of food.
That night, we went to a pub about a 5-minute walk away. They warned us that the usual crowd that hangs out there is from 50-80 years old but it was amazing! There was a live band and a huge dance floor. I even watched an older man unsuccessfully try to pick up a woman on the dance floor and I heard there was a bar fight after I left. Who knew?
On the last morning, we got up at 7 to get ready to surf for the day. There was no wind and it was so much easier to surf.
So there it is. I learned how to surf and I survived a weekend at surf camp… barely! I have never been so hungry, sore, or cold in my life but I can’t wait to get back out there with a surfboard in hand.
Photos courtesy of Surf Camp Australia and Niki Kingston.