Perfect waves. Intellectual discovery. Service work. Three things that certainly hold their own as self-contained pursuits, but when combined have the potential to make something special and everlasting, and if nothing else – unique. Something any surfer would want to be a part of.
That's just what SURFER Senior Editor, Matt George, and Chris Faucher, M.A. Pepperdine, have sought to accomplish with their new program: The Surf Journalism Expedition. As an extension of the non-profit organization, Last Mile Operations, The Surf Journalism Expedition hopes to educate students in the discipline of surf journalism while also affording them the opportunity to travel to the Mentawai Islands, surf perfect waves, and help the communities they visit. Obviously, the crew aims to log some quality water time in Indo, but the expedition, which kicks off its maiden voyage on July 17, centers largely on community service and academia.
"We want to combine adventure with academics," says George. "We have designed a curriculum that involves doing humanitarian work and learning the ins and outs of surf journalism. Classes will be taught by some of the best writers in the surfing world (including Matt and his brother, former SURFER Magazine Editor, Sam George), and some of the best photographers will be holding workshops on board. As a junior-level course, we will also be examining the entire world of writing from techniques to publication."
As far as hands-on service work, George maintains that students will be making a direct impact in the local communities.
"We will continue the work that we started after the tsunami, providing shelter, medicine, general health clinic resource, and anything else they need. We have even developed a canoe program where we deliver canoes – and all of the things they need while recovering. We will be going to shore and doing hands-on humanitarian work."
The program is a three-unit, fully-accredited college course that will provide students with a great opportunity to do something they love while also delivering aid to an area devastated by 2004’s tsunami. George emphasizes that each day will include six hours of classroom time.
"Candidates who come along with us will also be writing for our web magazine," says George. "And the best of the best will be featured in SURFER Magazine."
The Surf Expedition is the latest addition to the Last Mile Operations, a non-profit which has been delivering personal disaster response to devastated areas around the world since 2004’s catastrophic tsunami in Indonesia. The organization has also delivered aid to victims of Katrina, as well as affected areas in Pakistan, Java, and Bali.
"We've been to all these places and we've been able to help people by making sure that aid is taken directly to them," says George. "It usually never reaches these areas because of bureaucracy and corruption."
For their efforts, Last Mile Operations was honored with the Emerald Path Award by The Surfer’s Path in both 2006 and 2007 for “outstanding global humanitarianism.”
While summer offers endless opportunity for unchained students to spend their time as they please, George’s Surf Expedition sounds like a perfect opportunity to score perfect waves, help communities in need, and earn a few college credits along the way. The Surf Expedition is still accepting applications for its maiden voyage so check out LastMileOperations.org for more information.