Surfers are known for their deep connection with the ocean, but many of these athletes create waves while fighting for animal rights, erasing poverty throughout the world and battling those intent on destroying the environment. Here are six great surf-focused charities that make the cut.
Sustainable Surf: Los Angeles and San Francisco
Sustainable Surf partners with Surf Industry Manufacturers to create greener surfboards. Unknown to many, the process of building these boards is hazardous, and 75 percent of surfboards made of polyurethane are toxic to humans, the environment, and animals. Sustainable Surf builds boards from at least 40 percent recycled foam—collected, grinded, and reformed by Marko foam—and an epoxy resin with 15 percent biological content. With this technology, Sustainable Surf is able to transform waste into gnarly, eco-friendly surfboards.
WAVES for Development: New York
This nonprofit is a vehicle for surfers to find opportunities in volunteering, traveling to surf, community-based tourism and grassroots initiatives. It’s a ‘network of partnerships to help traveling surfers, coastal community members and grassroots organizations effectively work together.’
WAVES originated on the beaches of northern Peru in late 2004. The acronym stands for Water, easy access and conservation of water; Adventure, a healthy, meaningful relationship with the environment is encouraged and this non-profit helps with entry fees for low-income young surfers; Voluntourism, combining surfer’s passion for the sport, traveling, and volunteering; Education, WAVES helps coastal communities use their natural environment to create educational opportunities for youth, encouraging them to surf and be respectful of the ocean; Sustainability, teaching people how to live and travel in a sustainable way to keep resources alive for generations to come.
Surfers Healing: Virginia Beach, VA
Surfers Healing is a non-profit that holds surf camps for children with autism. It’s run by Israel and Danielle Paskowitz founded Surfers Healing for their son Isaiah, who has autism. Isreal grew up surfing around the world in a bus with his family and he is passing the power of the ocean on to more than 4,500 kids and their families each year at coastal communities all over the country. Surfers Healing is now a nationwide, grassroots non-profit organization, and while it serves thousands, it thinks only in terms of ones. ‘One child, one family, one day at the beach.’
SurfAid: Australia, New Zealand, USA
More than 15 years ago, when SurfAid was founded, it has gone from a grassroots charity to one of the most successful NGOs in the world. The idea of the charity came to Dr. Dave Jenkins and his friends in 2000 following a firsthand experience of the horrible living conditions in the Mentawai island chain. Since then. SurfAid has become a model for remote-region marine emergency relief the world over. Boat captains, medical professionals, relief workers and surfers work together to distribute aid and alleviate suffering in one of the most volatile and hard-to-reach places on Earth.
Operation Amped: Del Mar, CA
This non-profit is aimed at giving back to those who’ve been wounded in service to our country, helping veterans with disabilities ranging from traumatic brain injury to amputations to post traumatic stress disorder. Clinics are held pairing veterans with a surf instructor to teach them the fundamentals of surfing. At the end of the day veterans, instructors and volunteers built camaraderie by sitting around a campfire, singing karaoke, eating s’mores or having a jam session. Many veterans use surfing as an escape while others surf as a part of their new lifestyle.
Surfrider Foundation: San Clemente, CA.
Surfrider is the Big Kahuna of surf charities, starting up more than 30 years ago by a handful of surfers who rode the waves in Malibu, California and felt that the ocean was being polluted. They organized a group to protest the threats to their local surf break and now the Surfrider Foundation protects much more than just surfing.
Surfrider has built a network of coastal defenders who transform their passion for the coastline partnering with national experts in law, policy, and science—producing more than 300 victories.