Out and About

Jul 1, 2014 6:57 PM by Jeanette Trompeter

Out and About: Surf School

It's summertime and that means heading to the beach for kids all over the central coast. Some, though, are diving into a life-long love of the coast by learning how to surf. We get Out and About at Surf School in Avila Beach, and find out you're never too young to take on the Pacific.

It's summer camp, California style. Up and down the central coast, kids young enough to barely master dog-paddling in a pool are finding the courage to tackle surf school. Van Curaza and his team of surf instructors teach the kids on land first, showing how to begin on their bellies and end up on their feet. "Cobra," he says, which lets the kids know they need to get into their cobra style pose on their bellies. "And then we're going to pop to our knees," he says.

Each child follows his instructions and gets to their knees. From there, they make their way to their feet, standing on their boards on the sand. "Bam," Van says to 5-year-old student Enzo Engle, who made great progress in just one week, "This, up for style, look where you're going. Yes!" Van makes some slight adjustments to Enzo's posture but for the most part it looks like Enzo is ready to head out and give the waves a go.

Enzo, Bailey, Rocko and Hayden range in age from 3 to 5 and are developing a love of the ocean, early. They're getting it from Van Carrazo's surf school in Avila Beach where Van says passing on his 40-year passion to younger generations is a blessing. "This is where I started and just the skills and the element that started from here has taken me to riding some of the big ones," Van says of his own beginnings at Avila Beach.

But when you're dealing with kids of any age, it's not always easy to instill excitement when fear can be looming just below the surface. That's where a good coach can make all the difference. "The more they begin to trust you and more importantly listen to you," Van explains, "then we can get them to accomplish the things that we need to do which is build a trust by getting familiar with the environment."

"He is just really patient and he waits, where I'll push them into the waves and dump them one time and then they start crying and the day's over and we're crab hunting the rest of the day," parent Jeremy Engle admits. He's started surf lessons in Cayucos when he was to, but loves watching an expert like Van teach his kids.

There is an advantage to starting surf lessons young. Kids have a lower center of gravity and balance can be achieved more easy, and they're NOT afraid to take the learning process step by step. Five year-old Bailey said it worked for her. "I was getting on my belly because I was a little scared and then I got up, then I went on my knees and I stood up."

The challenge of starting so young, can be a short attention span. But once they get the thrill of tranferring their lessons on land, to the long board they're hooked. When asked how many waves he thought he caught, 5-year-old Enzo exclaimed "20!" with a proud smile and a high-five.

Carazo says a main focus for his lessons is to "eliminate all fear," and avoid creating "the one long lasting memory that will keep them (the kids,) from continuing on." But by the response of little Enzo when asked if he thought he'd continue surfing he said, "Yes! My whole life!"

For information on Van's surf school, click here.

For information on others on the central coast, click here.



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