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Kelly Potts: Maui Surfer Girls

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

When you put 20 teenage girls together, what do you think is the best activity to do while dressed in costume: surfing, sliding down a tsunami jumping castle with a black Labrador retriever, night roller-skating, or having a dance off under the stars in a spotlight?
I’m not quite sure what would be the topper, but I know our campers at Maui Surfer Girls (MSG) had a blast no matter what we were doing, including the 19 incredible females who worked it.
In 2007, I was a guest professional athlete who came to MSG by way of my clothing sponsor at the time. They wanted me to stop by the camp and hang out with the girls for the day. I walked into the campgrounds, played a little volleyball, kicked a soccer ball around, and practiced balancing on the Indo boards. I surfed with, ate food with, and made art with the campers, and honestly did not want to leave.  I really enjoyed what camp was all about, and decided I’d like to work there the following year. Little did I know I’d be an MSG ambassador for the rest of my life.
Without fail, the first few days at camp the girls are shy and reserved, which makes me just about fall over laughing, because I know that by the third day it’s like being stuck in the hen house with 40 clucking chickens. Girls I thought would never crack a smile, or say a word the whole time, turn out to be the comedians, or become the most charismatic of the bunch. I love to see the girls’ transformation in three weeks — seeing all the potential.
What really makes me proud to be an MSG-er is how it brings together girls from all walks of life, who are all going through similar bouts of uncontrollable hormones, and self image issues, and it gives them an empty canvass to let go of all they think they know about themselves, and create and find who it is they’ve always dreamed of being.
What may have been surface-y conversations at the beginning turn into incredibly meaningful and deeply contemplative conversations toward the end. The girls see the greater picture in life — that some things we may have valued as important may not be, so much, in the grand scheme of things. I would be left in awe by how these girls truly thought about things. All they needed was for one door of thought to be opened. I ended up learning so much from those brilliant minds.
It’s always great to get a girl that is super coachable. Who will do exactly what I just told her to do on the very next wave she catches, and it works! The progression is so fast and so extreme that I almost run out of tips by the end of the third week. At that point, it’s up to them to learn through experience.
But what’s also really great is having those girls who are more timid in the ocean, or maybe had a bad first-wave experience, and they get scared or stuck. I like the challenge of bringing a young girl back to the channel, taking deep breaths with her, looking around at the beautiful view surrounding us, and reassuring her that if she took the next step and went for one more wave, that she was meant to be a surfer. If not, that’s ok too, not everyone was meant to be a surfer. That usually gets them motivated. They want to be a surfer, so they go for the next one, and et-voila!, they’re ripping down the line, smiling and hooting it up. That’s what you’ll hear a lot of at MSG: cheers, whistles and laughter. No fussing, no fighting, just pure positive energy and adrenaline rushing through the air. It’s the best buzz anyone could ever have.
~ Kelly Potts, prAna Ambassador
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