Teaching Groms To Surf In A Remote Part Of The Pacific Northwest

OC Brothers Organize Surf Clinic on Indian Reservation

Smiles all around as the event gets underway

Orange County natives and brothers, Mark and Paul Austin grew up surfing in Huntington Beach. But having family ties to a remote area of Washington State, their parents have lived there for 20 years, they were lucky to be able to surf a virtually unknown wave. When they learned this great wave in the Pacific Northwest wasn't being surfed by the kids who actually lived there year-round, let's just say, nature took its course.

Mark Austin, former professional surfer and winner of the 1990 NSSA National Championship, and Paul Austin, a soul surfer who braves the waves every morning, decided to make surfing a reality for the youths of the Quileute Indian Reservation in La Push, Washington. This July, the brothers held the second-annual "Surfing and Traditions" surfing/kayak clinic, contest and beach cleanup in this beautiful, remote, beachside reservation on the tip of the Pacific Coast.

"This is such a great and available natural resource for these kids, yet many of them had never even been in the water," said Mark Austin, an industry sales manager now living in San Clemente. "With so many bad influences surrounding them, we wanted to give them something else to be passionate about – something positive and exciting."

The weekend's events started with over 50 boys and girls ages 9-18 – mostly Quileute Indians and youngsters from the nearby small town of Forks – coming out to give surfing and kayaking a try for the very first time. The weather was great and the 58-degree water didn't seem to dampen their fun. It was the perfect opportunity for the local kids from Forks to interact with the Native American children from the reservation.

"They were getting slammed and frozen but all of them had huge smiles on their faces and none of them wanted to get out of the water," said Mark Austin. "They were totally stoked."

In addition to surfing lessons, all of the kids got a "Surfing and Traditions" event t-shirt, Surfing Magazine, Future Snowboarding Magazine, stickers, and a very valuable raffle ticket. To congratulate the kids on all their hard work, a drawing was held at the end of the day; prizes included T-shirts, hats, shoes and videos. Smith Sport optics, C1RCA Footwear, Hurley, and O'neill Wetsuits were among the appreciated sponsors.

Mark Austin – stoked on the results of the trip

The Austins say this is just the beginning of a lifetime of surfing opportunities for these youngsters. The Quileute youth surfing program has now been established and volunteers plan on doing a surf day once a week for the rest of the summer. {{{Eight}}} "Liquid Shredder" soft surfboards were donated last year to the Quileute Youth Advocate program as well as more than 15 wetsuits from Brian Bailey of O'neill Wetsuits. Mark and Paul Austin also donated their own old wetsuits as well as a handful of others collected from friends and volunteers.

The weather was just as perfect for Saturday's Surfing and Kayak contest. About 50 men and women showed up to surf and kayak the clean and glassy 1-3 foot waves. The full day of heats included a Men's, Women's, and Longboard surfing division, as well as, a kayak division. All finalists were awarded goodie-bags filled with donations from sponsors and all 4 first place winners were presented with hand-carved paddles created by local Indian artist, Gray {{{Eagle}}}.

The event concluded on July 3 with a beach cleanup hosted and promoted by the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit organization working to preserve our nation's oceans, waves and beaches.

"Every year the Quileute beach is littered with bottles, cans and fireworks during the Fourth of July weekend," said Mark Austin. "The cleanup was a way to show the kids that although surfing is great, it is up to us to protect and appreciate the beauty we live with."