Who says summer camp is just for kids?! This August I spent an amazing six days at ArtSurfCamp in Carballo, Galicia, Spain (NW corner of Spain on the coast). The surfing was great, the people were fun, and the location was perfect.
Wait, I thought you were backpacking, A…? Why are you going to surf camp? Because why not? I love being on the beach, surfing is fun, and I was in Spain already. Also, six days at surf camp meant six full days I didn’t have to think about feeding myself. Done.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I was excited to be spending a week on the beach, becoming a pro surfer (okay, maybe just trying to catch a wave without falling on my face), and hanging out with new friends. Well, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my trip so far.
I instantly became friends with my three beautiful, hilarious roommates and the other awesome guys and gals at the camp. The staff was always smiling, making us feel like part of the family. There was an oceanfront bar and hostel and the surf school was out back with all the boards and wetsuits. There was also a sweet set up in the backyard with a slackline, a mini skate ramp, and a nice grassy area where you could stretch and play around.
Every morning we would wake up and go surfing for a couple of hours, hangout and have lunch, go back out in the water or relax in the afternoon, and then do various group activities in the evening before dinner.
For the surf lessons I was in one of the intermedio groups, and while my surfing might be intermediate (which really just means I’ve stood up before), my Spanish is definitely not. I tried to follow along as best I could, but I told my instructor he better translate when it’s something important. You know, like SHARK or something…
All of the monitores were pretty young, some of them locals from Galicia and others from different regions of Spain. They were all super chill and you could tell they really love their job. It’s exhausting, but as one of them said to me, it’s not really work because they enjoy it so much. They all really knew what they were talking about too; I was impressed by how confidently they explained the currents, the winds, the weather, etc. and how all of that affects the waves. I realized there’s a lot I don’t know about the waves, although I’ve been playing in them my whole life.
The first day was a lot of theory and a quick jump in the water just to see how it felt, and then the second day we really dove in (see what I did there?) We started out surfing in the whitewater so we could easily catch the little waves and try to stand up. I was feeling good about myself once I was standing up on all the little white water waves… and then they wanted us to actually go into the line up… Oh. You mean I can’t just stay in the kiddie pool? I was doing so well here.
I forgot what it felt like to get punched in the face repeatedly by a giant wall of water and then spun around like you’re stuck in a washing machine. The current was so strong one day, I was literally digging my feet into the sand, just trying to stay in one place and not let the water hurl me backwards, never mind actually trying to make progress moving forwards with my board. But the struggle became worth it every time I was able to beat the current and make it far enough to turn around and catch a wave.
It was such a fantastic feeling to be back in the water, playing and surfing. It has been way too many years since I’ve spent this much time in the water (or been anywhere near a surfboard). And while I was not fond of getting tossed around when the waves got bigger, nothing compares to the complete and utter joy I felt when I finally managed to paddle into a bigger wave, catch it, stand up, and actually ride the open face of the wave. Freedom in motion.
Aside from the surf lessons, there were loads of other fun activities at the camp like bumper balls, stretching, surf training (on land… picture above), and a giant slip n’ slide!
There was also a karaoke party one night which was hilarious. Some of the guys got REALLY into it with wigs, fake instruments, and screaming fangirls in the audience. I wasn’t going to do it because I was too embarrassed, but I got roped into the fun in the end.
When we weren’t singing our hearts out making fools of ourselves (which happened surprisingly often, not just at karaoke), we were playing beach volleyball, sitting at the bar taking in the view, or just hanging out enjoying the beach.
I also managed to squeeze in a little parkour session! There was a boy at the camp from D.C. who does parkour, so after surf training we ran around the backyard doing various challenges and obstacle courses. I was so destroyed after surfing and training but as soon as I started doing parkour, I felt refueled and wanted to keep playing for hours.
Overall, it was a fantastic week. From surfing and partying/singing at karaoke night to sitting at the open-air bar watching the waves and having a post-surf cappuccino in my comfy sweats, it was the perfect blend of high-energy fun and chill relaxing moments.
Whenever I have an experience like this, it is hard for me to leave. I love making new friends when I travel, but I hate saying goodbye! We spent six fun-filled days together, surfing, laughing, slacklining (falling), singing, having our meals together, partying together, but it was time to move on to the next adventure… Hopefully our paths will cross again soon.