‘Fearless Perspectives’ Will Remind You Of Surfing’s Robust Human Impact
Positive Vibe Warriors x City Surf Project make a difference.
You’ve read about City Surf Project on Stab before. Maybe the book they made even sits on your coffee table.
They do great work, these CSP guys. And their recent connection with the Positive Vibe Warriors — the non-profit created by Dane, Patrick and Tanner Gudauskas — cements their leadership in the growing movement to get under-represented kids in the ocean. They celebrated this partnership with the Fearless Perspectives film, which stars two City Surf Project participants who have graduated the program to become surf instructors themselves. We chatted to Dane Gudauskas about the partnership, below.
Stab: How’d you and your brothers get involved with the City Surf Project?
Dane Gudauskas: Our connection with the City Surf Project (CSP) began through Frankie D’Andrea, who we work with at the Positive Vibe Warriors (PVW) Foundation. Nate Lawrence had just created a book that Frankie, a NorCal native, had brought to one of our meetings. We had just finished our last board drive, working with Waves For Hope in Trinidad and Tobago, and with the pandemic and limitations of travel, we were excited to connect with communities in our backyard. The book blew us away. Reading the stories of the impact surfing was having on these kids who lived in this massive city (San Francisco) right next to the beach, yet never really had the infrastructure or support to access the water, was eye-opening. We had the chance to head north and see how their operations were run and what a special crew they had up there. Every day the program is on the beach with kids from the Bay Area.
How many times have you volunteered with CSP? What were your experiences like?
My brothers and I have had three or four beach days with the crew up in SF. The days are fun, meeting early at the offices in the City and watching as the youth file into HQ one-by-one, catching up on everything from school to daily life to expectations of what the waves might be like. Before long, everyone is loaded up into CSP’s big white vans, tons of surfboards on the roof, making their way to the coast. From there, everyone gathers into a big circle for stretching and talking about what they look forward to with the surf.
Surfing can sometimes feel like a singularly personal experience. Even amongst a crowd of people, you feel like you are out there alone, catching waves for yourself. But spending time with organizations like CSP always reminds me of the incredible personal developments derived from surfing that come through the community. Within the pre-surf circle, each of the kids is tasked with chatting to one another, then sharing the conversation with the group. This creates an opportunity for public speaking and real human connection. The camaraderie and group energy always shines brightly, even in the grey and cold NorCal waters.
This film highlights a couple of CSP’s SILT mentors. Can you explain what the SILT program is?
The SILT (Surf Instruction Leadership Training) program is a vocational training program available to high school students who have previously participated in CSP. The students are trained with tools to become successful surf instructors, including First Aid/CPR and lifeguard training. At the end of the six-week program, SILTs receive a stipend for their summer work as assistant surf instructors during their summer camps. For us, a big part of the work we do with the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation is to inspire the next generation of leaders in the lineup and the City Surf Project’s SILT program truly embodies that ethos.
What is the current state of the Positive Vibe Warriors?
Coming into our 10th year of the PVW Foundation, each activation has allowed us to refine how to best support the next generation of emerging surf communities. Our current focus is on our three main partners for this year: City Surf Project, JUJU Surf Club out of Africa, and the Nigerian Surf Team. The work we do to support each of our partners is tailored to the needs of their community, ranging from financial support for their programs, the delivery of soft boards, and also creating unique content to support and amplify the voices and perspectives of the youth participating in these programs.
When you look at the landscape of emerging surf communities, even right here in the US, it’s a very inspiring time, with programs like City Surf Project forming in many of our major cities where surfing hasn’t traditionally been accessible, due to lack of exposure or water safety, equipment or ocean experience. There are so many amazing leaders in these spaces looking to make a difference within their communities, sharing surfing with the next generation, and it’s having profound effects on the next generation’s personal developments.
It looks like the kids are using some PVW soft boards in the film. How are you guys approaching the soft board market?
Over the past few years, my brothers and I were thinking of ways to create a way to sustainably support our passion projects of the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation. Through our experience of doing the board drives, and seeing which boards were most effective in providing the best introduction experience within any community really, it always came down to the soft board. That is the access point into surfing. With that in mind, my brothers and I dug into building a soft board brand powered by what has inspired our journey all along — sharing surfing. Ten percent of all PVW board sales go to the PVW Foundation, supporting emerging surf communities and youth water safety programs. All boards are built in the USA and made from recyclable foam.
Positive Vibe Warriors Softboards is family-owned and operated, and it has been a great learning experience understanding the nature of the business as well as providing us a tool to bring to these communities and support the work they are doing. For us, it is more than just creating a board for someone to ride, but most importantly building a culture around bringing people together and empowering the next generation of surf.
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