It finally happened.
I went to Surf Camp!
After the trauma of failing to board the bus two weeks previously I approached Monday 17th November with understandable trepidation – I refused to believe I was going to Surf Camp until I was on that coach! Everything was the same as it was – big double decker coach, yellow wristbands being handed out and 71 keen backpackers all wondering whether our luggage would fit on or not – which once again it did!
The Surf Camp rep came up to us, and without any hesitation found our names on his list and then BOOM we were on the coach!
Surf Camp Australia is located about two hours out of central Sydney at Seven Mile Beach. It’s a proper little camp, with bunk beds, mass meals and a really relaxed atmosphere. It’s run by Australian surfers, it was never going to be anything other than laid back let’s face it! 😉 You have two surf lessons every day – two hours in the morning, two in the afternoon – and by about Tuesday afternoon you ache like crazy already!
I shall spare you the trials and tribulations of how I learnt to surf – except I will casually drop in that I stood up on the board in my first lesson! 😉 Instead, I will treat you to the life lessons that were either learned or reaffirmed in my mind that week. I don’t know if it was something in the water (not going to lie, I swallowed a lot of seawater that week!) or whether I’m just embarrassingly philosophical, looking for deeper meanings in all that I do (those who know me well will probably opt for the latter) but I found the whole experience rather profound.
So, what did Surf Camp teach me? Well…
Start small, aim big.
In the beginning it was the little victories that counted. Catching that first wave. Not nosediving. Standing up for the first time. It really helped me to savour those mini victories, whilst constantly looking ahead to the next, slightly more difficult challenge to conquer.
Encourage your peers.
Praise and adulation from instructors is good, it shows you’re moving in the right direction and gives you that boost that you probably need to keep going. But encouragement from friends counts for way more than you think, and definitely helped me when I was getting frustrated at myself. Equally, I felt like a proud mum when my friends achieved something they’d been pushing for throughout the session. Good feeling 🙂
I made a huge point of pushing myself the entire week. I was adamant no matter how much I ached or how frustrated I got at myself I would be attending every lesson and trying everything the instructors taught us because deep down I knew I was not only capable of that, but that I would leave disappointed in myself if I didn’t. I did not want to leave with any kind of regrets.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT compare yourself to others.
There were about 60 of us surfing in the Wednesday afternoon session, and oh my word some of the guys were good. Like, insanely good. It was hard to believe that they started off at the same level as me on Monday. (In particular there were two blonde Swedish boys – who reminded me a little of the Winklevoss twins – that were already surfing unbroken waves. Me and my humble and slightly wobbly 180 felt more than a little inadequate in comparison.)
It was really hard not to question why I wasn’t that good already too. I spent the whole two hours of Wednesday’s afternoon session asking myself why I was so proud of what I could do when others could already do more than me and do it better. And that wasn’t a good feeling!
It was hard not to compare myself to them, but I had to remind myself I was here to travel for me and me alone. So what if someone was better than me?! That’s life! At the beginning of the week I’d never even touched a surfboard, so the fact I could even stand up was something of a miracle and something I should remain proud of no matter how good anyone else was doing.
It’s OK to make mistakes.
Yes, mistakes are a pain in the bottom. But they’re also good. However, they’re only good if you learn from them. I loved making mistakes while surfing – for one thing they were an opportunity to laugh at myself, which is something I think too few people in this world are happy to do. But secondly they gave me the opportunity to assess what I did wrong, and then to do everything within my power to improve upon that last attempt.
But if you don’t try to do that, it’s not OK to make mistakes. 😛
Try new things.
I am notorious for not wanting to try new things, which is not good. I once cried because someone asked me to make a curry for them and I’d never done that before!
This year for me is all about grabbing the bull by the horns and forcing myself out of my comfort zone, and what better way to do that than by wearing the clingiest wetsuit going (which, by the way, is like stepping into a fish when you first put it on) and trying to stand up on a surfboard, knowing I’m probably going to go arse-over-tit in front of quite a few hot surf instructors.
It was all rather liberating I must say!
Always look ahead.
Something I learned pretty early on is that when surfing it’s a good idea to not look behind you. Don’t look down either. Philosophical moment: you’re not going that way, so you will fall.
Don’t be a dick.
Don’t be that person that gets in the way of others. Nobody likes that person, it’s not funny or cool and will normally just result with a surfboard in the head. With any luck it might knock some sense into you 😉