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Posted by Rick Civelli | 11.28.2011 | Teen Camps

California Teen Travel Surf Camp Blog: Matt Loveless

The central coast of California is an undiscovered gem with frosty, friendly, wayfaring northerly surfersinstead of the flocks of crowds in the warmer southern locales. As I collected my belongings at the San Louis Obispo airport in the one-belt baggage claim, no bigger than a drive through, I knew this trip would be packed full of unique charm. Once we gathered our new surf friends (campers) and established the “dome, sweet dome” of our eucalyptus forest campsite, it was time to begin the adventure of a lifetime.

One of our first expeditions was to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Not only the biggest of its kind, it also happens to be one of the most compressively amazing places I’ve ever seen. It was a preview of the watery fun we enjoy. I could have stayed for hours at each exhibit. The glow of the jellies, the grace of the sea turtles, even the awe-inspiring immensity of each habitat and its coastal dwellers captivated my full attention. There’s just something fun about watching a sea otter playing in a kiddy pool. But nothing truly compares to the opportunity to fully experience a place by being a part of it.

Each day as we surfed, so many aquatic visitors came to greet us. Pods of dolphins swam by our line up on numerous occasions. Seals and juvenile sea lions played in the waves with us. Pelicans the size of small Cessna airplanes dove for fish, exploding the water around us. Whether it was kayaking through the sound, hiking through the dunes and coastal forests, or standing on countless waves, the vast beauty of the ecosystem we were completely immersed in remains forever imprinted in my mind.

For me this trip was the real California. Not the palm tree lined streets and movie star images we conjure at the mere mention of the state itself. I’m pretty sure the hulking man with the ZZ Top beard I saw surfing ten-foot waves on his SUP board was a west coast Viking. It’s a tough place and the people are too. They’ll also give you the shirt off their back if you needed it. The true aloha of surfing seemed to permeate each niche of everywhere we were lucky enough to visit, greeting us with smiles at every turn.

It’s easy to have fun with your friends, and that’s what our group became. Every day and every adventure was tackled with a full smile. We had the best times, whether it was surfing shoulder-high waves or cruising on boogie boards in the shore break. That bond is inherent to the true spirit of surfing. All that matters is that you are sliding on waves with your friends. Further proof that the best surfer is the one having the most fun. And for two magical weeks on the central coast of California I was lucky to be in a group of the best surfers on the planet. Aloha!