Buccaneers Backpackers & Chintsa, East London 14 – 17 July 2011
Organised by Michael Dennison, his team at Friends of Chintsa and hosted by Buccaneers Backpackers, this weekend’s Development Surf Camp was a huge success and an amazing experience! Unravel Surf Travel and The Surfer Kids were fortunate to be a part of it! Check out this ZigZag Surf Mag Article about the Friends of Chintsa Unstressed Surf School!
To write about this camp is a daunting task, simply because SO MUCH was given, received and happened, that the chance of leaving someone or something out when delving into details is an all too likely possibility.
However, this Surf Development Camp was so special, and so many things deserve mention, that not writing about it is out of the question.
After many setbacks and much difficulty we managed to pull off one of the greatest things yet in the world of Unravel Surf Travelling. We initially arranged for the Kruger Park Trip to happen after the Development Camp but when the camp dates were changed we had to make a plan. Reinder would drive The Surfer Kids 731km from base camp on the farm to Buccaneers Backpackers in Chintsa West, while Jenya and myself would drive down from St Lucia, just below the South Africa – Mozambique, border to meet them there. Our Hilux Bakkie would initially have been available but now that the camp dates were changed we needed extra transport for The Surfer Kids. Benni, our Outreach Coordinator, arranged for a bakkie from a friend of his, but this offer was then cancelled last-minute. Literally last minute. Eish.
Benni and three of the kids ended up going to East London by bus while Reinder grafted to make other plans. He took the four smallest kids and loaded them in his own Ford Fiesta, or Buksie as the name goes, with the surfboards strapped into soft racks on the roof.
Everyone made it there but I will never be able to really convey just what an incredible journey getting there really was. And that was just the start of the weekend.
The last few kilometres of the road to Buccaneers really makes the roads here on the farm look like highways! The kids were out of the car even before Reinder turned the key and they were down on the beach in a flash! Excited to explore the wonderland of the beach and the Buccaneers camp site!The rest arrived later that afternoon and we started setting up camp, a stone’s throw away from the beach, protected by dunes and surrounded by the indigenous Eastern Cape bush and Guava trees.
You can only imagine what an adventure this must have been for The Surfer Kids! Some of them have never been this far away from their home, the rural Afrikaans community of Friemersheim between George and Mosselbay. Now they were camping with us in the Eastern Cape! With other groups of Xhosa speaking kids, surrounded by pristine beauty. They were beyond excited to experience the potential for adventure of the Chintsa beach and lagoon! The Surfer Kids were incredibly happy to be there and it is obvious to see that real effort is put into making Buccaneers an incredible place to be!
Spontaneous mingling between the kids from the different groups started happening on the second day, after two or three group surf sessions and some other really awesome activities. Some of The Surfer Kids from Unravel Surf Travel even came to me at the end of the weekend, out of their own accord, and spoke about the friends they made. Just think about that for a second. Let it tingle your mind. Black Xhosa kids from the rural Eastern Cape and Coloured Afrikaans kids from the rural Western Cape…
This was what the weekend was all about! For the kids, from different cultural backgrounds, to teach one another what we have thus far taught them. They are a bigger inspiration to one another than we could ever hope to be…
On Friday Mike took the kids out in groups on his Rubber Duck Motor Boat. We surfer and surfed and the kids even jumped into an icy cold swimming pool after all of that! Saturday we watched a local Surf Contest and later that same day we organised a contest for the kids with some cool sponsored prizes. A qualified Doctor also visited the Camp to instruct and demonstrate correct life saving CPR techniques. He even got all of the kids to practice on a dummy!
Food was provided and prepared by means of sponsorship organised by Friends of Chintsa, private individuals from the local community, local restaurants and Buccaneers Lodge. We are all deeply grateful! Thank you to all of the people who made it possible and provided for our most basic needs that weekend!
By Sunday we were sad to leave and reluctant to say goodbye.
But as always the end of one adventure is just the beginning of another.
After a last surf session we packed the Bakkie and Buksie and set off on the N2 towards Groot Brak Rivier, on the other side of George.
Just as we hit Port Elizabeth, about half way into our drive home, Buksie gave a splutter. We hit the hazards and did our best, but Buksie stayed in Port Elizabeth and everyone except Reinder continued toward Groot Brak.
Port Elizabeth & Jeffrey’s Bay 19th – 24th July
But all clouds have silver linings. It just so happened that Reinder found himself a very nice place to stay and a way to avoid being ripped off by a big dealership, who quoted him double what he eventually paid a fully qualified local mechanic to do.
Whether you decide to call them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ you can always look at things from different angles.
‘Coincidences’ do not really exist. Port Elizabeth ‘just so happened to be’ the location of our International Surf Association (ISA) Surf Riding Instructor Accreditation course the following weekend. So if Reinder had to break down somewhere, Port Elizabeth would always have been the perfect place!
I returned to PE two days later and while waiting for Buksie to be fixed, Reinder and myself drove an hour to Jeffrey’s Bay to catch some of the Billabong Pro Surf Action. Unfortunately the event was kept on hold (due to lack of waves) until Saturday morning, which was when our ISA Surf-Riding Instructor’s course started in PE. We did however watch the finals via the live webcast on Sunday Morning and it was great to see Jordy Smith win!
We returned to PE for the ISA course on Friday night and we met our host, a PE local who moved here from Holland. What an amazing person he is! I met him through the Couch Surfing Social Network. Without charging us a single cent he accommodated us, in a separate room with two comfortable single beds, for two nights. Some people like to believe that these things do not exist because as long as they perceive the world as a selfish and dangerously unknown place, their own selfish habits are, in their own perception, tolerable.
But Couch Surfing does exist and, in most cases, you do not even need to sleep on a couch! Hosts offer separate bedrooms and even separate apartments on this incredible and truly global social network. As long as you are prepared to make a very small commitment (not financial but conscientious) toward an unselfish community, you have the very realistic opportunity of being able to travel all over the world and never have to pay for accommodation.
The ISA Instructors course gave us valuable insight into the art of teaching someone how to surf and it is good to know that we now have the International Association’s stamp of approval upon our Surf Operations. The course was presented and led by Tasha Mentasti, a very experienced Surfer and Surfing Instructor and an incredible source of knowledge and wisdom. Current SA Women’s Champion Nikita Robb also joined the course and meeting these two accomplished surfers really inspired us. The entire experience was great to have!
And so we returned from an extended Surf Camp. During the first half of which we taught The Surfer Kids (and some new found friends) what we know. While in the second half we were taught a little something of what the Universe knows.
We remain open and receptive of what the world, the Universe, or if you prefer, God, has to teach us and we are committed towards passing that knowledge on and receiving it from everyone we work with.
We look forward to the 2011/2012 International Surf Camp! You can find updated information about that camp here! And be sure to check out the action packed 2011 / 2012 International Surf Camp Program!
Also be sure to have a look at our Outreach Page with updated information regarding our Outreach (or ‘Not For Profit’) Activities!
Thank You to my Unravel Surf Travel partners Reinder and Jenya and Thank You to Benni for being a great Outreach Coordinator. Once again a HUGE Thank You to Friends of Chintsa and Buccaneers for helping to make the Surf development Camp a reality! Also a big Thank You to ISA and Surfing South Africa (SSA) for your vote of confidence in the Unravel Surf Travel Surfing Instructors, Reinder and myself.
Once again, enjoy these amazing photographs and keep a special Thank You for Jenya who took them with great care!
We must all thank the Universe for somehow, through much apparent chaos, always making everything work out just the way it needs to.
Yours in Surfing Love and Life