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Posted by Rick Civelli | 03.28.2011 | Surfer of the Week

WB Surf Camp Surfer of the Week for March 28, 2011 – Bryan Block

There are a lot of people who dream about learning to surf, but there is something about Chicago, IL that breeds people who have an innate desire to get to the ocean and crave surfing. Pat O’Connell from the Endless Summer II, myself, an old childhood friend, and now Bryan Block and his entire family. After last year’s expedition with WB Surf Camp to the enchanting waters of the BVI, Bryan tapped into a part of himself he never knew existed. At the end of one week, Bryan was paddling himself into overhead high surf. After bringing his family to WB Surf Camp this past summer the entire family was hooked. This year, Bryan showed up with his own quiver and a desire to progress beyond that of your average beginning surfer. Bryan is one of the most genuine, kind, hard working, family oriented guys I’ve ever met and is stoked on life. He’s the kind of guy you wished lived next door to you and always carries a smile with him in or out of the water. Being bit as hard as he has by the surfing bug, he just might be our close neighbor one day soon. We can hope anyways…

1. What drew you to WB Surf Camp? I was immediately drawn to WB Surf Camp after an extensive online search of similar companies.  Many of the other surf instruction companies that I contacted offered surf instruction PLUS this and that (other stuff) excursions, etc.  I was looking to learn how to surf from people who are passionate about teaching all aspects of surfing with a pure focus on the ocean and how to respect and care for this precious resource.  In WB Surf Camp, I found a community of people who are highly passionate and skilled at teaching people how to surf, but also have a big heart for the unique connection that we all have with the ocean.  There was no other company that singularly could deliver what I was looking for other than WB Surf Camp!  I am such a big fan, that now my whole family is involved and we feel part of the WB Surf Camp family.

2. Who is your favorite surfer and why? He is most likely not at the top of most people’s list, but I have to choose Yvon Chouinard as my favorite surfer.  I choose Yvon not for his accomplishments on the waves (although his wave count is probably amazing), but for his influence on peoples lives in the context of surfing and life in general.  Yvon is the founder of the outdoor company, Patagonia and his “big picture” outlook on life; people, surfing, business and the environment are a true inspiration.  As a business owner myself, Yvon has also helped me to focus more on what is important, and that is the people in my life.  Like Yvon, I consider myself a “reluctant” businessman.  My favorite surfer to watch and follow over the years has been Gerry Lopez- his connection with Pipeline is truly amazing.  I also like Gerry because he is just passionate about the “ride”, whether it is big or small, wet or frozen (he is also a good snowboarder), he just wants to be out there.  I feel the same way.

3. When did you start surfing and where? I took my first surf lesson in Santa Monica, CA in October of 2009.  Right after that I found WB Surf Camp and signed up for the 2010 BVI Adult Surf Adventure.  I’m definitely hooked!

4. What is your favorite surf break? Well, based on my very limited experience, my favorite break is definitely Tortola, BVI.  I’ve surfed Southern California, Wrightsville Beach and Tortola, BVI.  There is nothing like the hot sun, warm clear water, uncrowded lineup and the very fun waves in the BVI.  To take off on those long rights that carry you all the way across the bay is truly amazing.  It is not just the break that is amazing…the bay, the beach, and most importantly the community of people in that location.  Really Really joyful place to be!

5. What inspired you to start surfing? I have always had a very special and deep connection with the ocean from the time that I was a little kid.  Growing up and living in Chicago makes it a bit difficult, however a few times each year, I am drawn back to the ocean as a place of peace and comfort and joy for my soul.  I also am always on the lookout for ways that I can try new things- I really do enjoy and feel that it is important for me to be a “beginner”.  I never want to get to the point where I fool myself into believing that I have it all figured out or mastered, I always want to be a learner.  I think it also has to do with having a very bad childhood where I had so much adult responsibility on me as a kid.  Learning to surf is one of those things gives me back some of the childhood joy that I never had. Surfing is new to me, it is challenging and fun- and it gives me another path of deep connection with God’s creation.

6. Where was your most memorable session? By far, my most memorable session was this year in Tortola, BVI on the Friday before the rest of the group arrived.  Rick Civelli and I were the only two in the lineup during what was like a six hour session where we were talking away getting to know each other and trading off on clean 4-5 ft. waves.  As we chatted between sets, Rick said, “I think the bay is getting a lot smaller” as a nice swell of over-head set waves came rolling in.  The bay really started pumping!  We continued to talk and paddle hard for the horizon as the bigger set wave came along.  Rick taking off on more waves than me and watching him disappear down the steep faces, but me still getting my fair share of bombs that came along.  I loved that afternoon session with Rick, the intensity ramping up with the big waves, and making the drop-it is difficult to put that feeling into words.  That session will always be etched in my mind.

7. What is the worst wipeout you’ve ever had? I also had my worst wipeout during that Friday session.  I think that I tried to takeoff late on a big set wave that landed me right in the impact zone.  I got worked pretty badly for a while before the waves released me.  I remember Rick commenting on my wipeout.  I told him that as I was under the water getting worked over and over that I had a big smile on my face the whole time.  You can tell that I am hooked because I really do like the wipeouts.

8. What are some of your interests outside of surfing? My greatest interests outside of surfing are my wife Jennifer and my kids Colin, Ethan, Peyton & Sophia.  Staying involved in their lives and doing things as a family is my greatest joy and fills most of my time outside of work.   I also run and workout 5-6 days a week- typically doing 1-2 marathons each year.  I enjoy snowboarding in the winter, skateboarding and biking with the family in the summer.  I coach my boys in baseball and basketball.  We are also involved in church and have many dear friends in various countries around the world, which makes us very involved in what God is doing in the world.

9. What is your favorite movie? I’m not sure that I have a clear favorite movie.  I tend to like the smaller, independent type films that tell a story.  I do also love the big epic films like Gladiator, Braveheart, The Patriot, etc.

10. What is your favorite music? I have always been an alternative rock lover.  Lately, I am big Switchfoot fan and I love Jon Foreman’s solo project “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter”.  I also like a lot of Christian rock music like Bebo Norman, Andrew Peterson, Jeremy Camp, etc.  My two older boys play guitar, my third son plays drums and they all play piano- so I am a big fan of the Block Kids with their jam sessions.

11. What is your favorite food? Really good seafood with fresh vegetables is by far my favorite.  Top it off with a good red wine and I am happy.

12. What is the best thing you like about WB Surf Camp? WB Surf Camp is amazing!  I think what makes WB Surf Camp unique is the community of people who are passionate about what they are doing from day to day because of the positive impact that it has on people’s lives.  Empowering people to grow in confidence and to consider their connection with their environment.  Yes, the surf instruction is so focused, intentional, fun and effective that I just can’t say enough good things about it.  The bigger picture benefit of WB Surf Camp is how their passion and ability for teaching surfing to all levels and all ages is so readily transferred to all who come in contact with them.

13. In your eyes, the three things you value most are: 1.  My relationship with God in Christ Jesus 2.  My wife Jennifer and my four children- Colin, Ethan, Peyton & Sophia.  They are my greatest earthly gift. 3.  My friendships and my relationships and my positive influence on people’s lives.