Special Needs Summer Camp — “If I can surf, I can do anything”

IndoJax Visually Impaired Surf Camp, Courtesy of Jesse Stephenson
IndoJax Visually Impaired Surf Camp, Courtesy of Jesse Stephenson

IndoJax Surf Charities is building self-esteem and confidence in children with special needs

“If I can surf, I can do anything,” is the axiom of IndoJax Surf Charities, entering its eleventh year of teaching disadvantaged, medically fragile, and special needs children how to surf.

“It’s an incredible journey to witness how surfing and the ocean can change the lives of others for the better,” said Jack Viorel, founder and director of IndoJax Surf Charities. “We often remind our campers, “If I can surf, I can do anything.” Having seen so many success stories of children with special needs, we believe that phrase more than ever.”

Over the past decade, IndoJax has empowered with higher self-esteem and confidence over 5,000 children facing a variety of hard-life challenges, including visual and hearing impairment, cancer, autism, loss of parents, and other special needs.

“The biggest thing we see is a growth in confidence,” said Viorel in an interview with North Carolina Press Release. “Children generally start our camp with a sense of reluctance, even fear. Probably the most powerful thing we do is help children get out of their comfort zone, face a little bit of fear, and succeed. This gives them valuable tools for everything else in their lives. Surfing is the vehicle we use to walk each student through the process of building real self-esteem.”

Viorel’s organization will offer eleven camps over the next twelve months, all based in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, except one camp each in India, California, and Nicaragua.

“Wrightsville Beach is a beautiful beach and has fantastic conditions,” said Viorel. “The surfing community and businesses such as Blockade Runner Beach Resort are so supportive of our charity work. The surfers and residents seem to be motivated to help the less fortunate. I think Wrightsville Beach is a very special place.”

IndoJax Surf Charities offers the camps at little or no charge to participants. Blockade Runner is hosting and contributing a highlights and awards show in August to help cover surf camp costs. Other key supporters include the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation, United Healthcare, and Live Oak Bank. Donations can be made to specific camps at this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/indojaxsurfcharities

“There are lots of success stories,” said Viorel. “One that stands out is a kid from our Visually Impaired Surf Camp. He started the first year we held the camp and returned for several years. He became so accomplished at surfing he was an instructor for a year before heading off to college. Imagine that, a blind surf instructor.”

Parents are heavily impacted by the surf camp experience. “Some parents are overly protective of their special needs child and don’t let them try new things. Our program teaches them that their child can do a lot of things if just given the opportunity,” said Viorel.

See full interview with Jack Viorel here.

Surf Camp 2018 Schedule

  • May 29-31: Boys & Girls Clubs – Wrightsville Beach (In memory of Taylor Epps)
  • June 12-14: Autism – Wrightsville Beach (In honor of the Don Bennett family)
  • June 26-28: Children of Belarus – Wrightsville Beach
  • July 17-19: Visually Impaired – Wrightsville Beach
  • July 24-26: Special Needs Children – Cayucos, CA
  • July 31-August 2: Access of Wilmington – Wrightsville Beach
  • *August 20: Surfers Healing – Wrightsville Beach (*Program assistance)
  • August 14-16: Childhood Cancer – Wrightsville Beach
  • August: Mauli Ola Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis – Wrightsville Beach
  • November 2018: Nicaragua Outreach
  • April 2019: Surf Safari for Orphan Girls – Kochi, India

For Surf Camp reservations, visit indojaxsurfcharities.org.

 

Source: North Carolina Press Release, Raleigh NC

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