play / 2021

Surf Bus at The Shore

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by The Surf Bus Foundation

We aim to create four high school surf teams of fifteen students each and offer sustained coaching support from regions of Los Angeles historically blocked from ocean access. Our project begins with an immersive surf camping trip to historic surf spot, San Onofre State Beach, for 60 student athletes. From there, we will host consistent monthly surf practices and twelve overnight weekend trips to The Shore Hotel in Santa Monica to get "contest participation ready" for the Ohana Nalu Surf Series, a group of six contests during the school year.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles
  • Other:: Gateway Cities

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

We want to diversify the contest line up by creating a more equitable and supportive surf environment for young surfers of color. Generations of potential surfers are missing from Southern California’s ocean wave line-ups because of the legacy of segregation in LA between communities of color and the coast. The result is a sport known for its homogeneity rather than one representative of the variety and diversity of the the ocean. We posit that creating and sustaining four inner city high school surf teams, with an emphasis on training for contests, will help young Angelenos feel a unique sort of freedom, success, and adaptable control over their environment that only the ocean can facilitate.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

We are taking a proven model of contest development already available to our local Santa Monica high school surfers and applying it to four unique groups of teenagers from different areas of Los Angeles: Valley Plaza in North Hollywood, Hazard Park in East LA, Algin Sutton in South LA, and Huntington Park in the Gateway Cities of Los Angeles. These four regions have strong Teen representation at the park and rec departments served by Surf Bus Foundation. The initiative kicks off with an immersive camping trip in San Onofre–the most special surf spot in all of Southern California and a welcoming place for beginners. Out-of-class nature experiences make a lasting difference for youth and we want to set the tone with this “peak experience” before the common stressors of a new school year commence. The teams of student athletes will receive direct support from Surf Academy coaches and Samohi peer-to-peer surf team members. Each team of 12 students will have a unique weekly schedule of combined fitness requirements, monthly community surf sessions hosted by Surf Academy and Surf Bus Foundation, and a monthly weekend stay at The Shore Hotel in Santa Monica for immersive surf contest training. Finally, our athletes will represent themselves, their team, their school, and community in 6 surf contests over the school year. These events are regularly scheduled “peak experiences” meant to help a student hone their craft and provide a low-stakes way to measure their surf progress.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

104
Direct impact
9,600
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

Success for Surf Bus at The Shore is helping our student-athletes to sustain their ocean relationship and become first generation Angeleno surfers in their families. Success looks like our teenage surfers helping to transform what contest surfing looks like; to transform what the community at large thinks of when asked, “what does a surfer look like?” Our Surf Bus high school student-athletes could be the start of a surf/ocean love legacy for their families and communities that spans generations. Ten years of surf team cultivation by Surf Academy has resulted in an across team retention rate that burgeoned from 30% in 2010, to 85% in 2020, with half of these students being first generation surf Angelenos. We have watched, year after year, as one ocean/surf curious child inspires their siblings to start surfing, parents to take lessons, grandparents to come watch surf practices, and extended families gather at the beach for the excitement of contests (and even participate).

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Success will be measured two ways: personal skills development/attendance (of the individual) and the high school surf team performance over all. We use beginner, intermediate, and advanced skill cards to measure progress in 4 areas: ocean safety, swim skills, surf skills, and fitness. The season begins with an ocean assessment that tests athletes in these areas so coaching staff know how to focus workouts for the individual within a larger practice. Skills tests are repeated every six weeks. Surf contest participation and final placing is a second metic. Each competitor represents themselves and their team in heats. Surfers must strategize together to create the best heat outcome for the team, and still work to maximize their own growth/meet their goals. Integration of personal and group success is learned by positively utilizing potential failure. An individual with stand out performances may not be from the team that collectively finishes the best across a surf team season.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

Surf Academy: Coaching staff, contest training curriculum, and hosts of the Ohana Nalu Surf Series. The Shore Hotel: Provider of lodging, meals, and parking for all our immersive weekends in Santa Monica over our year of training to compete.

Which of the play metrics will you impact?​

  • Youth sports participation
  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Parks with intergenerational play opportunities

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to LEARN