A few of us were chatting a few months ago about leadership. Some of us find it easy to think of ourselves as leaders due to responsibilities we hold at work or in our social circles. Others of us shy away from thinking of ourselves in those terms and prefer a flatter or more collective approach to things. But, leadership is important. Whose lead are you following? Who is following you? (And I don’t just mean on Twitter). Someone once said that we all look like sheep from the front, but like shepherds from behind. I kinda like that.
So, in the week that we took the keys for Davina the camper-van I received an unsolicited email from someone who’d been following this blog for a few months. They’d found it after initially contacting SBS earlier in the year about the possibility of using the camper-van for something they were exploring. Once they discovered that she was off the road whilst SBS decided what their longer term plans for the van were, a Google search or two lead them to us. Just as one pioneering project seemed to be slotting into place, this email contained the germs of an idea that sounded intriguing.
The email was from a guy called Stephen who works with Scripture Union (SU). They are a long-established organisation and one of their specialisms is running summer camps for teenagers. Stephen is a keen skier and qualified snowboard instructor who had been running camps out to Austria and who wondered what a surf camp could look like?
We met up to chat over some burritos and hit it off like a house on fire. Very quickly it became evident that he had things really well thought through. Genuinely, if I’d had the time, energy and inclination to sketch out some ideas on a blank sheet of paper I think my results would have closely mirrored Stephen’s. SU had: the expertise; the camp-site; the infrastructure; the disclosure and child-protection systems; the web-site; and brochure capacity, etc to make things happen. Soul Surfers and Christian Surfers UK had a few local surfers who would happily get involved in sharing the stoke of surfing and the great outdoors and, where appropriate, be able to tell stories and convey something of how our personal faith is intertwined with all of that. Now, we just needed some surf instructors.
I contacted Sam at Coast 2 Coast Surf School about the idea. I wanted to be entirely transparent and ensure he wasn’t feeling hood-winked into something or to be seen to be aligning himself with organisations with whom he may not necessarily share a belief system. I’ve known Sam for years and our friendship has developed on trust. He was totally up for it and after a couple of weeks of email traffic, the two of us caught up for a post-surf blether in the car park a few weeks ago with some fellow Soul Surfers. We chatted and laughed heartily till the stars came out and we were shivering. Sam knows that I just love it when friends from different parts of my life meet one another and something fresh begins to spark off their individual passions. We can gainfully employ the surf school for a week and guarantee them revenue whilst knowing that the teenagers who attend the camp will receive excellent surf tuition as well as experiencing some other activities which may well include the likes of stand up paddle-boarding and coasteering. SU also wanted others to endorse this new initiative and asked if Soul Surfers, CSUK, Coast 2 Coast and Central would be willing to do so? A resounding “yes” came from all of us.
So much of what Soul Surfers has become is about friendship and partnership. We always said that if we bought the camper-van then we wanted to hold it loosely so that others could experience what she has to offer too. It seems entirely fitting, therefore, that Davina will be a creative retreat space throughout the camp. Whilst our stories with Davina have percolated slowly over several years, this camp has fallen into place in a matter of weeks. All the details will be going live on SU’s website and brochure at the end of the month and I’ll update you whenever that happens.
Our inaugural surf camp, or ”SUrf Camp”, will be happening at Scoughall by North Berwick in the first week of the Scottish Schools’ summer holidays 2014.
I love it when a plan comes together. Especially when you can just see the enthusiasm of all involved!