Dutch Schorn, a surfer from Ft. Lauderdale, has been surfing for 35 years. On the very beach where he first learned, he opened Hangloose Surf Camp in 2000. Fourteen years later it has morphed into the coolest camp I have ever come to see. As a mother who is nervous in general to leave my son anywhere where it’s all about being in the water; I felt at such ease watching Dutch in action with his many helpers, instructors and counselors that have been doing his camp for years. They now help teach the kids the very zen art of surfing.
On the very first day my son was up on a longboard riding a wave.
As Dutch put it “surfing is a way of life”. I believe only a surfer knows that feeling and I believe life is better in a pair board shorts.
A typical day starts with stretches and then lessons on how to stand and paddle. Then groups are formed and the rest of the day is dedicated to wave riding. It meant a lot to hear Dutch say his goal is to really teach kids how to surf and after the first week, I see that he makes these kids dreams come true. Dutch shows a great deal guidance and warmth to every young surfer. His very calm and endearing personality brings the kids in and they enjoy just being around him. No one will mistake Ft. Lauderdale beach for the North Shore, but it is a perfect place for kids to learn the basics of balance, footwork and standing up on their boards.
Dutch started a small surf shop in 1977 that was a mere 700 sq. ft. Now he owns a 10,000 sq. ft. shop that is ranked number one in the nation. He has also gotten Billabong to sponsor the camp and every day they set up three large canopies for shade and bring in 25-50 boards all of different sizes and shapes so the kids can be skilled in the long and shorter boards. On the down time the SUP board, snorkel the reef, catch some rays and fish. They also do beach activities, learn a little marine biology and just for kicks they throw in some of Dutch’s famous surf buddies like CJ Hobgood who signed hats, t-shirts and stickers for all the excited campers (and moms).
Surfing is about a lifestyle and it is one that I want for my son. Growing up in Michigan my parents moved me to Naples my junior year in high school and it was the first time I had ever met a surfer, those boys whom I loved dearly and still to this day are some of my best friends. They would rise at 4am to drive all packed in a CRS to Venice or New Smyrna, or really anywhere there were waves. These boys now are the most loving human beings. I don’t know if it’s the sound of the waves, the blue sky or the feeling of you and a board out in the ocean but it meant so much and you could see the fire and desire in their eyes. You see this in Dutch’s eyes and you know everything is going be alright as you wave to your son as he grabs a board.
Thanks Dutch we are looking forward to next week, next year and many to follow. Hang loose!