A Surf Camp Tell All (told by a very bad surfer.) Part One
“Want to go to a surf camp?”
This question has been posed to me before. And the polite, American in me always says “yeah, it’s a possibility”, when on the inside I’m more like, “you know, I think I’d rather hike a nice mountain, work with rescued elephants, or throw myself into moving traffic before I sign up for what is, to me, a pretty scary sport, FOR SEVEN DAYS.”
I’ve tried surfing. Twice. (Technically three times, but the third experience left me scarred, so I pretend it never happened.) My boyfriend is a borderline professional surfer. I want to like it. I especially want to like it for him. And I’m sporty! I like to exercise, run, do yoga. You name the sport, and I probably would join you for a match. So why don’t I like surfing?!
Funny enough, guess where I am this week, on my own free will?
Rapture Surf Camp in Bali.
There are worse places
How did I end up here? I wasn’t drugged or coerced into the decision. I’ve always wanted to see Bali, and Indonesia was the perfect destination for a holiday with a few different stops. So I agreed to do a surf camp, Kris (my guy) agreed to do a yoga retreat, and everyone is happy. At least that’s the plan…
And I want to share the experience with YOU. Because in a way, I’m hoping this endeavor will help me conquer my fears. Or at least get over myself a bit more. So why not hurl myself into a weeklong intensive with some surf teachers and a lot of insecurities?! Let’s do it.
The first day started with a great breakfast (overnight oats with fruit) and a nice cup of coffee, on a big communal table, surrounded by benches with loads of comfy pillows. As luck would have it, I arrived on a Friday night and the surf lesson on Saturday was a day-long affair. Day trip to the beach, morning surf, lunch break, afternoon surf, TA-DA. Full surf day.
As I sat in the shuttle, packed in amongst the other amateur surfers, I was a mix of excited and scared. Excited to be with a bunch of other people who were terrible, and seemed pretty unphased by their lack of skill. They’re in Bali, splashing around in waves, surrounded by energetic, kind people and beautiful weather. What’s not to love? (Why can’t I absorb this attitude?) But also scared to hurl myself into unpredictable waves, tethered to a giant foam platform I definitely don’t know how to control.
So I spent the 30-minute drive taking it all in, and trying to adopt the positivity of the other “campers”.
As we got to the beach, awkwardly hauled our boards to the water (beginner boards are *almost* impossible to carry. Motivation to get better!), and circled up for a warm-up, I was making a concerted effort to channel the excitement rather than the fear. And with the help of my encouraging, honest instructor Finda, I jumped in and tried to start surfing.
First couple waves: fail.
I have this nasty habit of looking behind me, at what seems to be a GIANT (aka tiny, beginner) wave, and getting too scared to do anything properly. Hence my instructor kindly telling me, “Don’t look behind you! I’ll tell you when to paddle and when to stand up.” Funny enough, after a few more attempts, I ended the surf session catching a beautiful wave allllll the way into the shore.
I won’t lie, day one felt like a challenge.
But the biggest take away came from Finda repeatedly yelling, “Don’t look behind you!” Not to get too deep here, but is this not a pretty accurate life lesson for those of us who’ve had a bad experience with something in the past? I had one pretty lousy, scary surf session in Portugal, where for .00045 seconds, I thought I was dead shark bait. And every time I turn around to look at a wave, that’s what I think about. So of course I wasn’t able to do my best. I was scaring myself into failing, before I even tried.
So yes, “real” surfers have to turn around and look at the waves behind them. (It’s kind of a safety thing as well…) But for now, I’ll work on getting over my own darn self, and stop looking behind me.
Because, after all, I’ve got Finda telling me to “paddle paddle paddle”, giving my board a nice push into the wave, and nothing but seven days of time in the water to work on the rest. Besides, doesn’t your neck start to hurt after always looking backwards?