First Time

by Breana Jonson

It’s a windy morning, and my eyes are burning from salt spray and sunscreen. But I hardly notice. My focus is on the breakers a few yards in front of me. “Almost there!” My instructor cheers me on, turning around on his surfboard, as we paddle through the last of the swells and out into the big waves. Wow, my arms are tired. I stop in a calm spot to just breathe. I squint and watch as my instructor positions himself in the spot where the waves break best. He beckons to me to join him, and I paddle myself over, eying the waves warily to avoid being wrecked before I even start.

This is my first time surfing, and I felt like I earned a new level of epic just by walking across the beach with a surfboard— never mind that it’s a beginner board the size of a baby orca. “This is yours!” he hollers at me over the sound of water crashing on water. I glance behind me and see a giant swell headed my way, ready to break. It’s only about a meter tall, but to me it looks seven stories high, at least. I swallow and feel adrenaline shoot through my veins. I paddle forward with every ounce of my strength, expecting every moment for the wave to overtake me and send me breathless into the rage of foam and sea. For one eternal moment, I can feel the spray on my calves and shoulder blades as the wave rushes relentlessly toward my body.

I close my eyes and gasp as the wave clutches me in its steel grasp. Then, suddenly, I feel myself rise and shoot forward—zero to sixty in half a second. I grip the board with white knuckles for a second, then take a deep breath and gather my wits. In one decisive movement, I clamber awkwardly from belly to my knees to my feet. I look down—and I can’t believe it! I’m standing up, riding a wave. I feel the wind in my face and grin. Adrenaline turns to thrill as I watch the foam rush inches below my feet. A few seconds of unparalleled ecstasy, and then it’s over. The wave dies and the board drops into the water below. I slip backwards into the water and come up, wet, half-blind, and happy.

My teacher catches the wave behind me and paddles to where I’m clinging to the board, still absorbing the thrill of those moments on the wave. “Woah!” he splashes a little in his excitement. “I can’t believe you stood up on the first wave you ever tried to ride!” I can’t believe it either. I’m hooked on surfing, forever drunk on the magical feeling of nature’s roller coaster.

There are a lot of reasons that most people never try surfing, and few of them are very good. Honestly, most people never get out there and learn because they don’t really know what surfing entails, and they have no idea how fun it is at any level. I never thought I’d be remotely interested in riding a wave, and now it’s one of my favorite things to do. I’m glad someone dragged me out there and insisted I try it! To be a surfer, all you need are some good waves, the determination to learn and someone to show you the ropes.

Are you ready for something new and exciting? Is a predictable trip to the beach just not enough for you this year? Give surfing a try! Cross off that bucket list item and make some amazing memories in California, the birthplace of modern surfing.

Wondering how to begin? Start with finding professional help. Surfing is an incredible experience, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not familiar with wave patterns or don’t know the basics of California’s tides. Even just by choosing the wrong time of the year, you may find either no waves or waves that are much too big for beginners. Fortunately, California’s coast is filled with surf professionals ready to help you succeed.

The best place to find a surf instructor is Southern California, where the waves are ideal for beginners and the water is generally warmer. You can get your first taste of the thrill of surfing with an hourly class, which range in price from $50 to $100, depending on class size. If you want to get the full surf experience, there is TheCaliCamp, a surf camp with a weekly price of $999, including accommodation and all the gear you need.

Whatever you choose to do, be careful—surfing is highly addictive!

This blog is powered by TheCaliCamp – surf camp for adults based in Southern California. Inspired by our guests and our own adventures.

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