Surfcamps are interesting institutions. They bring together people from all walks of life: rich and poor, educated and not, young and old (or rather, mostly young, and certainly always younger than myself), skilled at surfing vs. beginners, men and women. You meet people with completely different lifestyles than your own.
Take the surfcamp staff. They are generally a bunch of world vagabonds that spend the winter season in a surfcamp in the Southern hemisphere and the summer in a surfcamp in Europe. Literally every time I am in a surfcamp I oscillate between envy and pity when it comes to these guys and gals.
On the one hand, I envy their chance to surf almost every day, their seemingly worry-free outlook on life, their unapologetic promiscuous lifestyles (no chance to establish meaningful relationships and endless access to new people that look up to what they do and stand for), the inevitable ripped tan bodies that regular surfing creates and so on.
On the other hand, that’s exactly why I sometimes pity them. Surfing every day looks great on paper, but the lack of intellectual past-times in most surf spots in the world would bore me eventually. Having to meet new people every single week is exhausting (and then saying goodbye to them a week or two later possibly more so), even if they think you are a surfing god. Continuous promiscuity is a soul-eater and a drug hard to kick. Ripped bodies…uhm…granted, really nothing wrong with that in any scenario. 🙂
I think if you time it right, working in a surfcamp for a while is a fantastic life experience. For me though, „der Drops ist gelutscht“ as we would say in German.
Then the guests. Surfing is an equal opportunity sport as the barrier to entry in terms funds required is pretty low. A surfcamp week in Sri Lanka can run as low as €300, including food and board rental (the high end is €900 if you go to the beach villa of La Point surfcamp in Kabalana). Compare to kitesurfing which seems more skewed towards higher income practitioners.
This means you get to meet students, instagramers, lawyers, consultants, policemen and women, aspiring surf photographers, yoga teachers, nurses, digital nomads, social workers, software developers, entrepreneurs (some that have had exits already and others that are beginning new ventures) etc. Assuming you bring curiosity to the table, this is naturally an opportunity to broaden your perspective on the world. At home, we tend to associate with people that are similar to us – surfcamps mix you into a very different social group and it is your task to make the most of it.
Sometimes that is really hard. Whether you have a good or a bad surfcamp experience depends entirely on the group of people present and only to a very small degree on the infrastructure/quality of the surfcamp itself (excluding the surfcamp staff, which is essential to your experience). I was lucky to have met a group of superfun people during my time in Sri Lanka, but there were a few days that were tough. Imagine you can’t surf, there is not much to do at the camp and you don’t sync with currently present crowd.
See next post for infos on surfcamps I visited.
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