Surfing Charities That Deserve Your Support

With the holidays and the end of the year approaching, many of us take the opportunty to write checks to our favorite charities. With the emergence of new surf-related non-profits dedicated coastal protection, humanitarian and community development and recreation, there is no reason that every surfer shouldn’t give back this year.

Here is a list of surf-related charities worthy of a check or online donation.


WiLDCOAST The conservation team that I run has preserved over 3.2 million acres of bays, beaches, lagoons, and islands since 2000. A 4-star Charity Navigator ranked charity, WiLDCOAST this year mobilized more than 3,000 volunteers to clean up 150,000 lbs of trash and helped to preserve miles of beautiful coastline in Mexico.


Wildcoast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Surfrider Foundation: The granddaddy of surfing charities, Surfrider is a well-managed and effective coastal protection organization that mobilizes its thousands of members to strategically save surf spots and beaches in the U.S. and around the world.

The Surfrider Foundation Logo

The Surfrider Foundation Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

gompers 093

Outdoor Outreach in action.

SurfAid: This humanitarian organization carries out health related work in Indonesia. If you’ve surfed Indo and/or care about the fate of people who suffer from diseases present in tropical paradises than donate to SurfAid.

Outdoor Outreach: This San Diego non-profit is one of the nation’s most effective organizations at getting low-income and at-risk kids into the outdoors. Founder and Director Chris Rutgers, a local surfer, involves kids in surfing, rock climbing, camping and even snowboarding as a way of building self-esteem and providing recreational opportunities for kids who have very few.

Save the Waves: This Davenport-based organization focuses on preserving surf spots around the world and promoting and developing World Surfing Reserves.

Waves for Development: This New York-based charity creates life-enriching experiences in coastal communities in Peru through educational surf programs. Waves for Development is working in some of the most marginalized coastal communities to bring in surfing and get volunteers involved to assist in community development programs.

Crawford at Del Mar 6-29-09

Outdoor Outreach in action.

Center for Surf Research-SDSU: Researcher and surfer Dr. Jess Ponting has created this new academic and action-oriented research center in order to promote more sustainable surfing tourism and manufacturing and to promote great involvement by the surf industry in environmental and humanitarian issues where surfing tourism occurs. Off to a great start with groundbreaking conferences on surfing philanthropy, this is a truly innovative university research division.

YMCA Camp Surf: This wonderful beachfront youth camp located in San Diego County is an ocean oasis that provides recreational and educational opportunities for thousands of kids each year. For many campers their day and overnight camping experience here are their first real contact with the ocean.

Sustainable Surf: This San Clemente-based organization works with surfers and the surf industry to foster and promote recycling and re-use of surfboard materials, and promote better and more sustainable practices in the surfing industry.

Beach cleanup in Chile with Save the Waves.

Beach cleanup in Chile with Save the Waves.

I’m also a big fan of the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of San Diego and the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA. In these challenging times, all of these organizations provide critical and much-needed recreational opportunities for kids and families, including teaching kids to swim – which is key to enjoying the ocean and learning to surf.

SDSU Center for Surf Research “Rising Tide” Symposium

On Saturday I participated in the new SDSU Center for Surf Research’s “Rising Tide” Conference. My talk was titled: “Sex, El Santo, and Saving Trestles: How Surfers Can Make a Difference.”

The conference was described as “an intellectual jam session on surf philanthropy and those who dare to care about surf destinations and their communities.” The conference included talks by Rusty Miller, Dave Jenkins of SurfAid, Steve Barrilotti and Fernando Aguerre. The theme of the conference was “The Audacity of Stoke.”

The center’s founder Jess Ponting is an Australian who has studied the impact of surf tourism in Fiji and Indonesia.

Jon Roseman of the Tavarua Resort, Gary Sirota of Coast Law Group, George Le Baron of Reef and Jeff Wilson of Quiksilver discuss surf industry philanthropy with legendary Ironman Champion Scott Tinley as moderator.

An additional panel on surfing non-profits included participation by Nick Muca of Project Wave of Optimism, Zach Parker of Walu International, Sean Brody of the Surf Resource Network and Dave Aabo of WAVES for Development.

These are all young guys attempting to work in Nicaragua, New Guinea, Africa and Peru on community development projects. All were very thoughtful and committed and to be commended for attempting to link surfing and community health and improvement.

Most people think of surfers and surfing as some sort of cosmic joke. But Jess and SDSU are to be congratulated for demonstrating that surfing is a issue worthy of academic study and that San Diego really is the center of the surfing world.

Thanks to Mariangel Garcia from Ripeando Magazine from Venezuela for sharing the photos.

%d bloggers like this: