We take kids with autism surfing. We paddle out together on tandem boards to catch the waves that come our way. That's what we do; that's what we love.
On the surface, our contribution seems simple: each year, our volunteer-staffed camps give over 4,500 children with autism and their families a fun, engaging day at the beach.
But go deeper, and you'll see that a quiet revolution is taking place. Through the simple act of riding waves together, we're defying the status quo.
When we help kids get up on a board, we're challenging preconceived notions of capability. When we encourage participants to dive in, we're empowering them to engage with the world. And when we ride the waves together, we're affirming that every person is a gift.
A Powerful Experience
After 25+ years of taking kids out on the water, we're still amazed by the transformative power of the experience.
Many children with autism struggle with sensory overload; in other words, simple sensations can overwhelm them. The weightlessness and rhythms of the ocean offer a therapeutic experience, a respite from the constant assault on their senses.
Surfers Healing is the original surf camp for children with autism, and we've been serving the community since 1996. Yet what we offer isn't a 'cure', or even 'traditional' therapy. It's a completely different sensation and environment for our participants. We give individuals a chance to encounter the waves, to challenge themselves, to try something new. And since 1 in every 68 US children has an ASD (CDC report, March 2014), our work is more vital than ever.
Our biggest challenge? Getting kids to come out of the water! Once they ride with us, they don't want to stop.
Attending our camps positively impacts children with autism; the experience helps instill confidence and calm. Yet over the years we've seen that Surfers Healing also has a profound impact on parents. Autism parents are always hearing about what their children cannot do. But at a Surfers Healing camp, it's all about what their kids can do.
In the words of one volunteer, “For parents to see their kid up on a surfboard … sometimes, it's nothing less than a miracle.”
Help Make Miracles Happen
Join us for one of our surf camps. We're based in Southern California, but we offer camps across the country, as well as in Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Our camps provide an relaxed, accepting, and welcoming environment – the perfect space in which to risk and grow.
Make a contribution. Gifts like yours allow us to keep our camps free for families, provide qualified volunteers, and expand to new sites each year. It takes approximately seventy-five dollars for a single child to attend camp; that includes life vests, wetsuits, surfboards, beach permits and insurance. And this year, your contributions can help us sponsor families who are unable to afford the trip to attend a Surfers Healing camp.
Serve as a volunteer or sponsor. We couldn't do what we do without the help of our incredible sponsors and volunteers, including a team of amazing surf instructors.