Raising four boys on the North Shore of Oahu provides a lot of opportunities. Especially if your kids love surfing. However, living in a surf-centric culture can also provide plenty of negative influences. Enough that some families that we know keep their kids away from surfing–at least surfing at the competitive level. Finding positive role models is a challenge in the surf community, and we have seen plenty of good kids go off the deep end when they find a little fame in surfing. Yes it is sad, and sure–these are legitimate concerns.

We didn’t set out to raise groms…My husband Dave and I are both from the Pacific Northwest, and we were both active in more traditional team sports growing up. (Dave being especially passionate about soccer–and playing up to the professional level.) Moving to Hawaii for his Medical Residency, Dave started surfing, and we both fell in love with this island life. Still, we signed our young boys up for soccer, assuming they would love the sport. But they didn’t. Instead, they wanted to surf. And from the time they caught their first wave, there was no going back. 
Eventually, they begged us to trade in their soccer cleats for more surfboards…and the rest is history.

So–we have chosen to embrace this grom life. (Dave did a little grieving over the loss of soccer, but still has hopes in our two year old! :)) Now, most of our days are spent between the beach and the local skate park, and at this point, we think it’s great. We are aware of some of the potential pitfalls of the surf lifestyle, but we will not walk in fear.

Building a strong foundation in eternal things at home, we believe our boys are prepared to face everything they may encounter at the beach or elsewhere. We do stay close to our boys, and keep open conversations with them as they face all of the things that a competitive surfing life brings.

So, when we’ve been asked if we are sure this is the life we want for our growing boys, we can say with confidence–YES! And if you are raising kids in a surfing community, we encourage you to: First–Leep those kids close, and raise them well, and then…LET THEM SURF! To back up our feelings, we thought we would list—FIVE WAYS THAT SURFING IS GREAT FOR KIDS. ;

 

1. Kids who grow up surfing, grow up strong. They build muscles, lung capacity, and the ability to endure under pressure. I have never met a wimpy surfer.

2. Surfing produces character. Waking up before dawn, shivering in the water (a little less of that here in Hawaii, sorry to rub it in…) is not for the faint of heart. Facing intimidating waves, overcoming fears (sharks, drowning–these are all real dangers in the water,) and entering into the competitive realm of surfing are all incredible character builders. I can’t think of a sport that builds more courage and strength of character than surfing.

3. Surfing is a sport that can last a lifetime. Surfing doesn’t end with high school or college. If a kid grows up surfing, you can be sure that he or she has a healthy activity to do the rest of their life. You can’t say that for many sports.

4. Surfing CAN absolutely draw a kid closer to God…Our sons tell us about great times of prayer and even worship as they sit on the water, surrounded by God’s awesome beauty. During the difficult pre-teen and teenage years, when the world is screaming so many messages at a kid–finding a quiet place to commune with God can be invaluable.

5. Surfing can provide a great opportunity for kids to do ministry. When a kid is on the water, training with a group (or at a contest, ) and DOESN”T use bad language, get ANGRY at results, or act selfishly, THEY STAND OUT. Without a word, you can often spot a Christian in the surf community. People want to know what makes them different. And sometimes they ask. My favorite example of this happened last summer when my thirteen year old, Josiah, sat on the beach between surf sessions, and led another young teenage boy to the Lord. It happened very naturally, following some months of this other boy observing my son on and off of the water. They sat talking, and before you know it, the other kid began stopping his friends as they walked by saying “Hey–stop! you gotta hear what Josiah just told me! You should become a Christian too!” Hopefully, this same scene is happening on the soccer fields, and in the gymnasiums all over the world as well. But as for our family–we couldn’t be happier, or more convinced that surfing is truly a great sport for kids.

**I hope you’ll visit me and my surf-loving family at my blog: /www.thegrommom.com. I’ll be posting here at the WOW site regularly as well, so I hope to get to know many of you as well!
FEEL FREE TO COMMENT BELOW? Tell me if you’ve found any positives in your own kids’ surfing, or feel free to ask a question!! ALOHA, and Happy New Year!!