(Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School Group enjoying surf lessons this November)
Safari Surf School recently enjoyed hosting an engaging group of 25 students, parents, and teachers from the Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School in Montana for a one week long Surf-Yoga-Service “cultural immersion adventure trip”.
Take a look at this photo. Imagine being the photographer trying to organize this classic image. Imagine producing 25 surfboards, leashes, bars of wax, and sufficient skilled instructors to handle this awesome mob! We were able to organize housing, feeding, and transporting this gang to daily yoga sessions, service activities, recreational treks, and, of course, dinners out on the town. Talk about bringing your own crowd!
The Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School is a small private residential boarding school for adolescent girls ages 13-18. The school provides high quality therapeutic services, education, and experiential opportunities to adolescents and their families. Opportunities for creative expression are provided through various classes and workshops, as well as adventure field trips to local and faraway destinations. Executive Director Corey Hickman explained “Our goals for these types of excursions is threefold; cultural immersion, service, and high adventure. We want to teach kids how to have fun in healthy ways. The phrase ‘high on life’ may be overdone, but that’s exactly how we want the girls to feel when they depart. Oh yeah, and we keep them very busy!” I shared with Corey one of my favorite quotes on surfing “There are a million ways to surf, and as long as you’re smiling you’re doing it right.” Corey smiled back and said “so far so good!”.
(Chrysalis Group Warmup!)
Although surfing was surely a highlight, as mentioned, the kids were busy busy busy with many other activities! Each day included a different community service event. Over the week long trip, the group planted trees with Costas Verdes Reforestation Association, assisted in painting the local elementary school and then enjoyed lunch with the kids, completed the sustainability tour at the Olas Verdes Hotel (the lovely home of Safari Surf), and visited the Nosara Refuge for Wildlife. Of course, we also had to get in some zip lining, a waterfall tour, turtle watching in the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, yoga classes (thanks to in-house instructor, Kimber Kinley), and a soccer game with local students (which they won!).
(Reforesting the coastal ecosystem with Costas Verdes Conservation Association)
(Painting and lunch at the local elementary school)
From the ‘behind the scenes’ perspective, accommodating this massive group was a welcomed and completely rewarding undertaking. The Safari Team, headed up by general manager Jeffrey Baltodano, worked long hours keeping things rolling smoothly. Chef Maritza and her mother provided fantastic ‘tipico ’ cuisine using all fresh and local authentic ingredients. Kimber Kinley took time from her busy global travel schedule to spend the week teaching surfing, yoga, and helping with every detail. And of course, the entire team of Safari Instructors were masterful at keeping everyone wet and salty! School Director Corey enlisted the capable assistance of Emily Philips, a Nosara devotee and director of her own private boarding school program called ‘Echo Springs’ in Idaho.
(Emily and Corey with students Lizzie and Lucy)
(Safari Surf staff doing what they do BEST!)
Corey told me that the Chrysalis School takes two ‘travel abroad’ trips a year. Over the years they have visited 24 different countries. I told Corey that when you come to Safari Surf School in Nosara we guarantee “you will get hot, dirty, wet, change colors, and be renewed”. On their last day I asked Corey how it all went. Smiling he replied “so far, so good”.
Thanks for coming guys, we had a blast!
As a business owner, I understand the importance of recognizing employees who “keep the lights on” with daily operations. Having a happy, healthy, reliable and productive team of operators, instructors, managers, staff, strategic partners and other stakeholders – year in and year out – are key to the success of our business. It would be impossible for Safari Surf School to maintain its success record without a team that feels valued, motivated and appreciated for their work. And while we live a charmed life surrounded by surf, we still take time to get together as a company and have a little fun. So, how do businesses recognize employees for their hard work and achievements? For a few, that answer is travel.
Many companies offer annual top producer recognition platforms, which may vary from extravagant holiday parties to exotic travel experiences. By way of “Circle of Excellence” programs, team-building experiences are oftentimes tied to destination travel, allowing businesses to reward excellent employee performance while strengthening relationships between leadership and contributors. If this sounds like your approach, my question to you is this: Have you ever considered Costa Rica as a destination of choice? From proximity to the United States and lower total costs of travel, to rich experiential travel choices, happy people and a blissful atmosphere, there are a number of factors that make this Central American landmass a great option.
That sounds great, you say, but why would I consider spending this time with a surf school? The answer is easy: Because we offer an irreplaceable experience built around a sense of achievement, centered in paradise, surrounded by beauty, customized to your liking, complemented with experiential options, and soaked in a charmed Pacific coast culture. Do you question the attractiveness of this as an option? Then I challenge you to mention it to a few employees and just watch their eyes light up.
Sure – on paper we’re a surf camp. Our daily office space is filled with beautiful sunsets, tropical landscapes teeming with abundant wildlife and surfboard-toting beachcombers. Yet while surf instruction and beach life are at the core of our operations, Safari Surf School offers so much more than instruction on surf. We are more than a patient, well-trained staff who delivers hands-on instruction, eco-friendly, top-notch equipment and the knowledge to help you catch your first wave. We’re actually providers of customized, experiential travel who can coordinate the memory of a lifetime for the health and well-being of your company’s most important assets – your people. And we do it in the midst of the ultimate in surf culture and latin culture, with ecotourism and sustainability principles front and center.
Wake up to the sounds of Howler Monkeys stretching their vocal cords off in the distance… time for a fresh cup of coffee or whatever moves you. Off to the Safari facility for a pre-surf snack of fresh fruits and banana bread and then meet up with your surf instructor.
So why should you head south with your team for some rest, relaxation and camaraderie? For starters, take a look at cost and proximity. Compare the cost of travel to Costa Rica with other popular, sunny destinations. We’ve witnessed incredible average price drops into the Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport of Liberia, Costa Rica over the last year. All major carriers (Delta, United, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, jetBlue, Alaska Airlines and Sun Country Airlines) now make daily runs into this airport and the average direct flight into Liberia is 5 ½ hours from LA and 3 ½ hours from Houston. Upon arrival, your drive is less than two hours to our beach hamlet, or if you arrive into SJO (San Jose), we’re a short direct 50 minute flight away into Nosara where we pick you up.
Second, this country is quite simply filled with happy people down here. Who couldn’t enjoy themselves within a paradise of smiles and kindness? If this sounds like a bold statement, simply walk over to a post I made a few months ago and read all about The Search for Happiness. Discover how Nic Marks, founder of The Centre for Well-Being in London, created an equation to calculate what he calls the Happy Planet Index (HPI) and proving out Costa Rica as the happiest place on the planet.
When it comes to a relaxing atmosphere and charming facilities, we offer you access to Olas Verdes Hotel, where we serve as anchor tenants. This newly-launched hotel is the world’s first LEED-certified surf hotel and will soon be Central America’s first LEED-Platinum hotel. Olas Verdes occupies several hundred meters of ideal Pacific coastline of the ever-popular Playa Guiones and features seven independent structures, offering 40 accommodations, comprised of 14 standard guest rooms, 10 suites, and four private-entrance cottages. Amazing, right? This is an ultimate corporate playground. Just imagine business meetings where you know that you can play, meditate, relax and still foster a teamwork atmosphere, in an authentic environment.
We have the ability to configure team building opportunities, immersive travel and educational for corporate travel groups, rewarding your company with irreplaceable experiences within the densest region of biodiversity in the world. A short-list of experiential guest activities run the gamut, from deep-sea fishing, volcanic-fed hot springs and rainforest expeditions, to cultural immersion, local fútbol, yoga and massage.
My wish is that if you are evaluating options for business group travel, take into considering a most-unique and rewarding option of travel to Costa Rica, coupled with the great reward of catching your first wave (or dusting off those long-lost skills with some refreshing instruction along the beautiful Nosara beach of Playa Guiones. In a future installment, I am going to elaborate on the Costa Rican culture and atmosphere by elaborating ‘pura vida’ – a term which has been present in the Costa Rican dialect for over fifty years.
So you’ve mastered the basics: you can paddle and catch waves with ease, stand up and drop in and bottom turn. Now what? The next step is learning to create and maintain speed! Speed is one of the most important elements in surfing. Without it, you won’t be able to perform even the most basic moves and turns. It’s the same with skiing, snowboarding, or pretty much any board type of sport; speed is the key to maneuverability.
With that said, here are some helpful tips to surf faster: Checking and Understanding the Waves
First things first! Before you hop in the water, you have to check the waves. Watching the waves and understanding the type of wave / break it is will certainly help you understand how to ride the actual wave. I almost always sit and watch waves for about 10 minutes, especially at new breaks I’ve never surfed before. By watching the waves and how they are breaking you can see where the “sections” that are faster come along while the wave is breaking, where it may close out, where it may soften or slow down, etc. Of course there is no substitute for actually riding the wave. At least seeing how it is breaking before you jump on them will help – especially with watching a few waves other surfers catch and seeing how they ride the wave to completion. Bottom Turn – Stay High!
Your initial bottom turn is the key to your entire wave. By timing it right, staying low with a low center of gravity, with legs bent and coiled like a spring, you should release that “coil” spring in your legs to project yourself down the line. This will automatically thrust yourself down the line and high up on the face of the wave. That initial burst of speed is the catalyst for the rest of your wave. As they say in surfing, “Your bottom turn is EVERYTHING.” Once you have propelled yourself forward from that initial bottom turn and you find yourself on the upper third of the wave…this is where you will always reach the apex of speed on a wave. Stay Close to the Pocket (“S” Turns)
Staying close to the energy source (the pocket) is a key factor in maintaining speed, for as the closer you are to the curl or epicenter of the waves power source the faster you will go. The wave will dictate what your next move is but in this little piece I’m going to explain how to keep your speed or if need be, even go faster. (I’ll cover slowing down / cutbacks at another time).
The classic “S” turn, or as we surfers say a lot “pumping down the line,” are terms for generating and keeping our board speed high. The “S” turn is really quite simple and I equate it to a coiled spring that contracts and expands. If you’ve ever watched a surf movie, or perhaps above average surfers at the beach, you notice this when the surfers are “pumping” or expanding and contracting like a coil to gain speed on a wave. While going high on the wave then low, then high, then low – ”pumping” their legs from a bent (contracted) to extended (expand) position in rapid succession – they are creating the speed needed to go faster down the line of the wave. Keep Your Board Clean (and Fins)
Make sure to clean the bottom of your board. This will help you move faster on the water. Believe it or not but I see people all the time with wax marks on the bottom of their boards from boards laying on each other, or whatever other reason. Your fins also have a lot to do with speed, as does the design of your surfboard (yet another article topic coming soon).
Relax and Watch
I cannot emphasize to you how important it is to watch other surfers in the line up. This is a great way to see other people’s styles and also how they “read” the wave while surfing it. Of course this is also a great way to self-teach, too. Just relax and let the waves come to you. Like anything else, practice, practice, practice each maneuver until you have the confidence to know that you can execute whenever you need them. Aloha!
“Team Building, as defined by Wikipedia, is the use of different types of team experiences and activities that are aimed at enhancing social relations and clarifying team members’ roles, as well as solving tasks, achieving results, meeting goals, and improving performance”.
I was surprised not to see the word motivation used in any of the team building definitions I read as I researched this subject. Safari Surfs’ recent trip to Nicaragua certainly motivated me in relation to doing my best. Safari owners Tim and Marsi Marsh have wanted to take the gang on a little ‘employee appreciation’ surf trip for some time. Everything aligned at the end of May, and we were finally able to slip away together for a few days. Our destination was the recently finished La Jolla de Guasacate resort in the wave-rich Popoyo region of southern Nicaragua. Safari Surf School recently launched a new learn-to-surf package in this spectacular location and we were all excited to see it. “La Jolla” means JEWEL, and man does the place ever live up to that description! I do not know if Tim and Marsi ever considered this getaway to be a team building experience, but from my viewpoint this little trip put fresh wind in all of our sails. As we prepare to move into the brand spanking new Olas Verdes Sustainable Surfing Resort next month, Safari Surf has never been more optimistic and stoked!
PETER JEFFRY TIM ALI AND MARITZA PIO JORDANI
The plan was to leave at midnight, get to the border crossing at 4am, and be in the water at 8am. Tim and I had both flown in from the states the same day and we knew we would be a more than a little fuzzy. I arrived ten minutes late at 12:10 am and the crew was all there amping to get underway. The boards were all loaded on top and we jammed into the very capable Safari van. Weird things happen when you have no sleep, you begin to “see things”. But we were adrenalized by the good vibes and energy surrounding the trip.
La Frontera (the border)
“One thing you learn here is patience” – Tim Marsh
Timmy’s wise words reverberated in my head as we approached the Nicaraguan border. I had visited Nicaragua before, but never entered this way (I’d flown into Managua). The first thing we learned was that the border crossing offices did not open until 6am. We watched as a line formed at the checkpoint. When we saw a crowded bus unload its passengers into the growing mob we realized we should be in line, not slouched out in the van. We were planning to lock down the van in a guarded parking area and Bob (La Jolla owner/operator) would meet us on the other side. The scene was chaotic and confusing, but we managed to park the van and join the line for the two hour wait.
It was about at this point that Luis discovered he did not have his passport. There was no way to sugar coat this dilemma; he had to take a bus back to Nosara. He called his girlfriend Laura to tell her the news and she responding by saying “no worries, I will bring it up to you”!
One of the fascinating things about living here is people watching. I am amazed at the women I meet who are traveling through Central America solo, carrying only a backpack. They speak multiple languages and seem to navigate what I call the ‘third world follies ‘with determination and no fear. Laura is from Australia and she does not speak Spanish, but somehow she threaded together three bus rides to reach the border, and she and Luis made it to La Jolla by 5pm – happy hour! The rest of our merry group trudged through the arduous and hectic border crossing routine and were met by Bob who had arranged for a large van to take us to the hotel.
I’d been to Nicaragua twice before, my last visit was in 2000. I was anxious to see what had changed in fifteen years. Nicaragua and Costa Rica share the Pacific Ocean and Spanish language, but that’s about it. I was astonished at the differences. The Pan American Highway is in excellent condition. The southern portion of Nicaragua is bordered by Lake Nicaragua which is huge, almost like a small ocean. The strategic positioning of the lake creates steady offshore winds which blow all day long.
Huge modern windmills dot the countryside, taking advantage of the gusty winds to create electricity. The cost of living is significantly lower than in Costa Rica; the price of land, goods, and services are a fraction of what we pay in Nosara. We turned off the paved highway and proceeded west on a good dirt road. Once we approached the beach region it was apparent how much it had changed. Dozens of private homes, beach hotels and surf camps, dot the coastline and hillsides. “Surf Colonization” had begun invading the surf zones about 12 years ago. The number of quality surf spots and cheap cost of living began to pull investors away from Costa Rica. In Nicaragua there is no discernable middle class; the rich and the poor coexist under the same sun. The Popoyo region is loaded with great surf spots, many accessible only by boat. Add in the round-the-clock offshore winds and you’ve got surf fever!
Stunning wave-rich coastline = Surf Colonization
La Jolla de Guasacate
The La Jolla resort is the brainchild of Tim Siviter, who also maintains some beautiful rental homes in Playa Guiones. After about a year Tim brought in a partner, Bob Eason, who runs the hotel along with his lovely wife Ditmara. I had a captivating talk with Bob about his experiences over the years in Central America. At one time Bob owned the very successful surfwear brand called Picante, but his heart was in Nicaragua and he eventually sold everything and returned to the simple life he loved. The La Jolla Resort occupies 50 acres of prime ocean view land. There are currently 11 fully appointed rooms with another 12 on the way. There is also a large, beautifully furnished private home that can be rented for groups and families. Additionally there are 114 lots for sale within an exclusive gated community, but hurry – 70 have already sold! The furnishings and amenities are modern and upscale. After our all-night jaunt and chaotic border crossing, we were all swept away by the special beauty and comfort of the place. Bobs heart has always been ‘for the people’ and he is very focused on taking care of the locals. “For 30 years these people have lived at subsistence level with no assistance from the government” Bob points out, “but they still have huge smiles on their faces”. The hotel website: http://www.lajollahotelnica.com.
Owner/Operators Bob & Ditmara Eason
Nicaragua has abundant, incredible surf. The coastline is punctuated with numerous points, coves, reefs, river mouths, and sandbars producing a variety of surfing conditions suited to all ability levels. Many of these spots are only accessible by boat. Each morning our ‘A Team’ explored by boat, while Laura and I set out in search of softer breaks where Safari Surf guests are taken for their lessons. Everyone came back stoked.
The A-Team in action at Colorados
Nicaragua offers a unique cultural experience in a wave-saturated ocean playground. The food, service, and cushy comfort level of La Jolla is off the charts. Non-surfing activities include golf, horseback riding, stand-up paddling, volcanoes, fishing, kayaking, and other custom tours. Grenada is a great day trip for exploring classic colonial architecture, sightseeing, shopping and dining. Bob and Ditmara are wonderful hosts and tend to every detail to insure your comfort and stoke level.
Safari Surfs ‘Nica 2015’ trip brought us closer together and filled us with inspiration.
When is the last time you sat around a table with family or friends sharing good food, talking story, and laughing out loud? Hats off and big thanks to Tim and Marsi Marsh for such a marvelous experience. As Tim said “when it comes right down to it we are a family” Life’s a trip, better pack your bags! We look forward to your visit.