Teenagers went to Third Point at Malibu Surfrider Beach on Thursday, July 17, for Surf’s Up, an unofficial surf camp for kids involved in the youth group at Malibu Presbyterian Church.
The weekly event is organized by Mike Morgan, youth director for the church. While he is not a certified instructor, Morgan uses his 17 years of surfing experience to teach kids the basics, such as how to properly stand on the surfboard and get over a wave.
“I go out there and I can push kids in the waves and give them tips, but I’m just a guy who cares about them and wants to teach them,” Morgan said.
Surf’s Up was started five years ago. The event is not limited to those who belong to the church, and is open to anyone who wishes to join, Morgan said.
Jake Hughes, 14, thinks the unofficial surf camp can help kids in the community become more involved with the church.
“It’s a lot of fun just to come down here and hang out, and it also gets other kids to come to church [and youth group] on Sundays,” Hughes said.
In addition to their weekly surfing gatherings, the youth group holds other events throughout the summer for its participants, such as camping trips, other surfing events, a house-boating trip, and others.
Grant Baer likes the social aspect of being involved in the youth group.
“I feel like it’s another way to bond with [my friends],” Baer said.
In the possible event of an emergency, Morgan said he relies heavily on the lifeguards on duty, but stressed that the kids are in good hands while under his supervision.
“I make sure that every time they come off their board that they turn around and give me a thumbs up,” Morgan said. “I’m always watching them.”
Morgan also said he always has a volunteer with him at all times watching kids who are on the beach.
Morgan said his favorite part of teaching surfing to kids is watching their faces light up when they successfully stand on their board.
“I love seeing kids super stoked on life and I love being able to celebrate them,” Morgan said.
Julia Rodriguez, who recently started interning under Morgan, said her experience being under his wing has been positive.
“It’s been amazing,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve just gotten to learn so much about what it is to minister to people. It’s just been great serving alongside with him and meeting the kids and being a role model-type person for them.”
Rodriguez said the most challenging part about working with kids is they like to amongst themselves at times, but appreciates when they start reaching out to her.
“The best part is when they do open up and communicate, they totally love you and want to share who they are and just want to be around you, want to be really open with you,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez feels that youth ministry is an important of a young person’s development.
“There’s people who have ministered to me all my life,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s important for that cycle to continue.”