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Largest surf camp in the world is free to youth

Lifeguard Post on the Beach © D.P. Clarke
Lifeguard Post on the Beach © D.P. Clarke
Lifeguard Post on the Beach © D.P. Clarke

What’s not to love about Florida? It has sandy beaches, warm ocean breezes, and offers lots of fun in the sun. Into this idyllic mix leaps Club Zion Community Church in Cocoa Beach. Each summer they host a youth surf camp centered on the greatest joy giver of all – Jesus.

Surf camp started in 1999 when a youth group from Plant City contacted Pastor Keith Capizzi. They’d never surfed before and needed help renting boards. Pastor Keith agreed to not only get the boards, but offered to run a surf camp for the group as well. Club Zion had only one young person, but it had a lot of surfers. The church responded to the surf camp challenge.

The camp is held over a four day period during the second week in June. Between Bible devotions in the morning and teachings at night, surf camp trains kids, aged 12-19, how to surf. Three hundred of them at last count. During the first three days of surf camp, the kids are taught the art, the skills and the history of surfing. They hear from pro surfers and are briefed on surfing safety during a fire department presentation. In the evening the kids are also treated to performances by great Christian musicians.

Surf Camp is so popular that the community chips in. All the surf shops in the area, and many different businesses, support it. For example, one year they had $50,000.00 worth of prizes. In the evening the prizes are handed out. Camp participants get tickets for t-shirts, sunglasses and watches. This year they have already received eleven surf boards to give away.

On the fourth day camp participants take everything they have learned and put it into practice. During the day a surfing contest is held, complete with an awards ceremony. Trophies and Hawaiian leis are handed out. The event is designed to resemble a professional surfing competition.

With everything that goes on during a surf camp one may wonder, how much is this going to cost me? The answer is nothing at all. Club Zion has never charged for kids to attend surf camp. The meals are free. The sunscreen is free. The surfboard wax is free. It’s so popular that kids return year after year from around the States and even some foreign countries.

Participation is not limited to believers only. Any child can attend surf camp. However, according to Pastor Keith, seventy-five to one hundred and fifty kids do get saved every year. Not only that, but some parents are introduced to Jesus as well. Pastor Keith adds, “Surf camp is really amazing. It is the highlight of what we do. It is the biggest mission trip we have in our church.”

Surf camp is already full for 2014, but you can go here to learn how your child can join the fun next year.

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