Stoked City Surf Camp

Surfers Transforming Lives

Youth Mentoring Connection’s STOKED CITY SURF CAMP provides Los Angeles youth the opportunity to ride the waves at local beaches. For many of our youth, this program means seeing the beach for the first time in their lives, despite living less than a 30 minute drive away. Others who did not know how to swim learn to be comfortable in the water. Our youth face enormous obstacles and live in high crime areas where they are constantly exposed to gangs, drugs and violence. Surfing helps heal wounds and expand perspective.

Each of the mentees is paired with a surfing mentor. They work together to get comfortable on a board and riding a wave on their stomach. Then they learn how to push up and ride the wave standing. It is a wonderful sight to see nearly 100 volunteers and mentees at the beach surfing and teaching. 

One of our mentees recently said:

“I feel so alive when I am surfing. I feel like this is my life. If I make a wrong turn, I’m thrown back and encouraged to try again. When I choose the right path, I’m led to the most awesome waves to ride.”

Learning to conquer the waves is a powerful teaching tool, helping our youth to find ways to overcome challenges in other aspects of their lives. Exposure to the ocean and to mentors who come from all walks of life broadens the perspective of young people.



From Giovanni

When Giovanni joined YMC, he was 13 years old and weighed 285 pounds. He had low self-esteem and no academic motivation, but his mentor, Tim Wingard, sought to change that. Tim began teaching Gio healthy eating habits, how to surf, and how to take control of his life. For a few brief seconds during his first surfing session, Gio managed to stand on his board before crashing back into the water but the exhilaration and achievement of those few seconds was enough to ignite a passion to try again and stand up for his life. Two years later, Gio was 120 pounds lighter, president of his high school’s debate team, and on the honor roll. Gio is now a proud graduate, with honors from Loyola Marymount University, where he surfed competitively for LMU and went on to enroll in the MBA program at Pepperdine University. He continues to be connected with YMC, frequently speaking at events and volunteering as an instructor for the surf program where he has been helping other young people to find their love of surfing.
“Surfing changed my life…this program changed my life. I was the fat kid: depressed; no motivation; living in a neighborhood full of gangs and headed nowhere. Then Youth Mentoring found me, gave me my mentor and invited me to surf with them. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere – like I mattered. I lost 120 pounds and found myself!” – Giovanni Douresseau


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YMC staff are available to answer your questions about the programs we offer, how to become a mentor, or anything else in service to the youth of Los Angeles.

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