Learning from the waves provides a lifetime of education for Steve Wise who shares it with people who want to learn to surf.
“Paddling is the main engine,” Wise said. “They have to build up their strength.”
Until then, Wise and other volunteers, mainly from Nags Head Church, help surf campers by giving them the push they need to get to the waves.
Wise started Hukilau Surf Camp 10 years ago after a missionary encouraged church members to use their passion for the Lord.
That charge clicked with Wise, who loves surfing after growing up close to the water thanks to the U.S. Navy: Puerto Rico, Cuba, Hawaii and Virginia. He started surfing in Hawaii where his family was part of First Baptist Church, Pearl Harbor.
The first camp was open to youth, and several years later, Wise began offering one for adults.
Wade Marland, an X-Ray technologist and church member, came to that first adult camp in 2006.
“I’d always wanted to try surfing and had never had the chance before,” Marland said. “The waves were really good.”
Marland had bodyboarded and skateboarded before, but surfing always attracted him.
“I love being outside anyway,” Marland said. “I think it’s a cool way to share my love for God.”
Marland has been a volunteer since his first camp. It gives the father of three girls time to surf and allows him to be a part of God’s creation.
“You have this huge body of water that God created,” Marland said. “You have to respect it.”
Long board stability
The longer board that the camp provides beginners offers stability, Marland said.
Wise, who is also a pastor elder at Nags Head, estimated that about 20 to 25 percent of the campers are from the Nags Head area. The rest are either on vacation or visiting relatives in the area.
While the camp is designed to show the fun side of surfing, Wise said, “We’re not trying to hide that we’re a church. Our No. 1 passion is for Jesus Christ.”
Each camp lasts about three hours on a Saturday morning. For $25, about 20 campers learn some water safety tips and how to pop up on the boards.
Over a decade Wise and the Nags Head Church volunteers have helped more than 500 people learn the basics of surfing and water safety.
At most camps Chad Motz, captain of Nags Head Ocean Rescue and a church member, instructs about rip currents and how sand bars form and move.
Each camper is also given a goodie bag with a T-shirt, surf Bible, tide table, instructions on how to buy a used board, etc. Three youth camps and an adult camp are offered each summer. Wise also helps others learn how to do surf camps or teaches groups the basics. A church group is coming from Virginia for a lesson for its high school and college guys.
He’s been to Ecuador to lead a camp at a Baptist facility on the coast and earlier this summer taught a youth group in Florida.
Hukilau is a Hawaiian tradition of using a large net to catch a lot of fish. Huki means to pull and lau means leaf. A large group participated in and in turn celebrated the catch. The camp’s theme verse is Isaiah 51:15 (NAS): “I am the Lord your God who stirs up the sea and its waves roar.”
For more about camp, contact (252) 441-7548 or visit www.surfcampobx.com/.