Burton Girls

Learning to Surf with the Chill Foundation

by Kristen Fejtek

Can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday than playing in the sand, riding some waves, and learning life lessons from new friends?

Thanks to the Chill Foundation, I had the opportunity to do just that at Redondo Beach with a rad group of kiddos from the Los Angeles area.

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Surfing is intimidating. So many factors can lead to your success or failure within the sport. I had surfed only a handful of times previously and these kids looked like they knew their stuff. I’m sure it didn’t start that way, but at week five of the six-week program, they were already well on their way to becoming skilled surfers.

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Chill was started with the mission to inspire youth to overcome challenges through boardsports.
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It was clear that the group had built up tons of confidence not only in surfing, but in life, thanks to their instructors from Perfect Days Surf Camp and their Chill Foundation Program Coordinator, Allison Peters. If you’re unfamiliar, the foundation was started by Jake and Donna Carpenter—Burton’s founders—with the mission to inspire youth to overcome challenges through boardsports. 23 years later, and the non-profit has branched out from snowboarding into a variety of activities, including skating, paddleboarding, and today’s activity: surfing.

It was a beautiful morning, with plenty of good waves and great weather for getting out there. We started the day by suiting up the kids and played some team-building activities. Everyone showed perseverance while sharing more than a few laughs. Once it was time to surf, the kids grabbed their boards and showed me a thing or two in the water. Most of the kids charged in and told me exactly how to set them up to catch that perfect wave. Not everyone was as confident as the others though—my newest gal pal, Jasmine, feared diving into the waves at first. After showing her the ropes a few times, she finally got the hang of it. I’d have to say hands-down the highlight of my day was when she excitedly asked me to watch her dive in.

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All boardsports take a large amount of courage, responsibility, patience, persistence, and respect. I found that Chill introduces all these lessons to the kids during their time on a board. When the day began, I was psyched at the opportunity to encourage and inspire these kids. Every individual that I met was filled with supportive words of advice for me on my first day on a wave in years. In the end, I’d say I learned a lot more from them than they learned from me.

I could not think of a better way to spend a Sunday than joining the Chill crew of Southern California for a surf session I will never forget. I had no idea a day spent surfing would turn into such an influential day for myself, but it did. Life is full of surprises. ∆


The Chill Foundation helps youth build resiliency through targeted lessons and challenging physical activities. It serves approximately 1,600 kids annually in 15 North American cities. To donate, volunteer, and learn more, visit www.chill.org.


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