While the surf raged on, the locals made the beach a better place.
(Editor’s note: This story comes from a surfer in El Salvador that SURFING publisher Ross Garrett recently bumped into while on a vacation to his country. While the event didn’t exactly happen ON International Surfing Day, we are even more stoked to see that it has had a lasting impact around the world)El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America, lies within an untold number of excellent surf spots ranking from world class, right point breaks, like Punta Roca, to wedgy beach breaks and volcanic reefs.

The local population of talented surfers is rapidly growing, despite lately surfing rapid growth in El Salvador, it still has not yet received the support it deserves, the primary reason is the lack of an organization geared toward the benefit of this sport. Back in 1994 was created the ASOCIACION DE SURF DE EL SALVADOR (ASES). There was plenty of work to be done but did not receive the attention or support necessary as an association.

For this reason, now in 2005, more than 10 years later, a group of surf related friends came together to revive the Salvadorian Surfing Association from its "Dark Period" which came about when local surfers read in "Surfing Magazine" the article announcing an International Surfing Day, and organized the FEDERACION DE SURF DE EL SALVADOR (Salvadorian Surfing Federation) to make the positive direction of the local surfing community a priority.

The first activity planned by this newly founded Federacion was to invite surfers and friends to clean the El Sunzal Beach, a popular point break north of La Libertad.The goals of this First Salvadorian Surfing Day were many. While the beach clean up was the primary objective, the coordinators wanted to create a positive experience, for the local community as a whole. The event also allowed the local community to see surfers not as the stereotypical "Surf-Bum", but as youth concerned with the environment and the sport, ultimately, the aim was to put surfing in a positive light among non-surfing community members, specially the youth.

The organizers faced the challenge of putting the event together in less than two weeks, by making flyers and distributing them in coastal communities and by contacting the local media, they were able to reach willing volunteers.

The crew of 60+ worked hard for their home break
The days leading up to the clean-up were filled with enthusiasm, unfortunately the day of the event, June 25, 2005, many of the surfers from San Salvador who surf the waves the most, were not present. In addition, businesses that cater and profit from surf tourism were absent. There were however at least 70 people coming from nearby beaches communities, as well as tourists from different countries who willingly lend us a hand.

Within three hours they filled 45 trash bags with debris that laid on the beach, after the clean up there was festivity and games, such as 3 legged sack races and relays with prizes donated by local businesses. For the El Sunzal Beach community the biggest reward was to witness a diverse group of people coming together, and enjoying what they had accomplished.

We all cleaned, sweated and sunburned together, all the while enjoying ourselves like never before. At the end, local residents and businessmen congratulated the coordinators and participants of the event, and asked if this sort of activities could be organized more frequently, never before realizing that cleaning their beach could be so rewarding and fun at the same time. Foreigners who happened to be around ask to be notified by e-mail of future clean-ups

In retrospect, this activity lifted our spirits and gave us a new energy to continue working to benefit our communities and the natural environment of El Salvador, our hope is that this type of project will promote a new generation of surfers generally concerned with their beaches and mostly clean waves, lastly, the El Sunzal Beach locals would like to thank everyone who participated for their positive initiative that inspired our own, hoping it is the first of many to come.

Hauling the trash from the beach