If this beautiful little film doesn’t shake you out of your cynical slump, I don’t know what will.
NorCal filmmaker Perry Gershkow documented a very special day in the lives of young students from Malcolm X Academy, in San Francisco’s notoriously rough Bayview neighborhood, as they headed to the beach with a handful of Bay Area legends like Eddie Donnellan and Tim “Timmy G” Gras from the MeWater Foundation; Mr. Big Dog himself, Ian Glover, of Big Dog Surf Camp; Nate McCarthy of Marin County community hub Prooflab; as well as Ocean Beach chargers Matty Lopez and Bianca Valenti.
The MeWater Foundation works to “educate, inspire and empower youth and families through the magic of mother nature,” using a particularly great E.E. Cummings line — For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourselves we find in the sea — as the star it steers by. They offer inner-city youth and parents the opportunity to attend camps like Big Dog’s, in hopes that the great outdoors, and especially the ocean, become lifelong loves.
Here’s Donnellan: “Exposing kids to the basics, like the ocean, the mountains, and just being outside and being ‘mindful,’ allows them to be free and to find simple joy, while at the same time challenges them, both physically and emotionally.”
And if the mountains and ocean don’t get them psyched, the force of positive nature that is Big Dog Surf Camp’s Ian Glover will. Often referred to as “The Fourth Gudauskas” for his ridiculously good vibes, Big Dog has a way of making smiling, shaka-throwing groms out of even the most shy wallflowers.
As World Oceans Day wraps up, we’re reminded of how remarkable and precious the ocean is, and how its value can be seen in the faces of these kids, some of whom are enjoying the water for the very first time.
“After all the years of working in San Francisco, in these neighborhoods, it’s so great to pull everyone together and have a special day like this,” Tim Gras says in the film. “To watch these kids who couldn’t swim, or who’d never been in the water or out of these neighborhoods — to get them out at the beach to have a good time and smile and maybe get a few waves. To have a moment, a positive moment, and watch these kids smile. That’s what it’s all about.”