Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How surfing leads to graduation and college

On Sunday, Boarding House Mentors took a group of young folks from YMC/Urban Oasis to Rincon Surf Point for a contest hosted by Glenn Hening and the Groundswell Society. The contest is focused on “sharing the stoke” of surfing rather than seeing who could score the “sickest wave” or do the gnarliest tricks. There are two things about this event that resonate with what we do at YMC/Urban Oasis:

1) We were “invited”. Despite the fact that the other surfers in the contest were more skillful than our group, we have been welcomed for three years in a row with warmth and enthusiasm. The young people we bring come from a society that gives them messages every day that “you don’t belong here”. So, to be invited to this famous surf spot, three hours from home and welcomed in such a manner is a healing gesture. It is like this entire community was practicing our traditional program greeting “sawubona”, a Zulu word meaning “we see you”.

2) The event is intended to bring everyone closer together. By so doing everyone’s spirits are awakened. Walking around the beach everyone was friendly. Strangers greet each other and make real connections. This waking of one’s spirit goes so much further than remedial interventions to help young people advance their lives. This is why at YMC/Urban Oasis, even though we do no formal academic counseling our youth graduate at a rate of 96% compared to their counterparts whose graduation rate is well below 50%.
So, I’m sitting out in the water with Glenn and he asks me about our youth. While they are falling off their boards and wiping out in the waves, I point them out one by one: Daisy, graduated and going to CSUN; Creon graduated a full year early, is a team leader in City Year, headed to college; Davon will graduate, talking college with his mentor; Jovan graduated and working full time; Esteban, graduated and going to CSUN; Brian, graduated; Alvin, graduated; Floyd, graduated, studying to be a stunt man and evaluating colleges, Sidney, will graduate and go to college; Danny will graduate and go to college.

Thanks to Boarding House Mentors and Groundswell Society.  Thanks to our young people for stepping up to life.

peace and blessings,


Tony LoRe
Youth Mentoring Connection/Urban Oasis  

Boarding House Mentors

Let yourself be silently drawn
by the stronger pull of what you really love.


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