Kids actually request to be in our program and judges and probation officers often use us as a reward.

“Surfrider Spirit Sessions is cool, they let me surf my troubles away. Surfing is just like life, you gotta ride the waves, and learn from your mistakes when you wipe out.” - Anonymous Program Youth

Cost-Effective and Community Based:

Surfrider Spirit Sessions leverages many hours of dedicated volunteer time to mentor underserved youth, filling critical gaps in a juvenile justice system and community programs that are severely under-resourced. By partnering with other youth serving organizations, we can help build a stronger safety net for our high risk youth.

One youth expressed it this way, “I trust the mentors, because you guys are for real – not like the courts or my counselor or teachers, you don’t get paid to be nice to me. I know you really care, I believe what you tell me.” -Anonymous Program Youth

Measuring Success

Judges, probation officers, counselors, court staff, and the teens have all indicated that our programs are highly desirable and among the most popular, relevant, and effective diversion programs available. We see success in transformation of our youths’ attitudes, behaviors, activities and achievements and belief in themselves.

Surfrider Spirit Sessions can give probation officers, case workers and counselors valuable information and insights into youth to better serve their individual needs. Most importantly, mentors provide critical support, demonstrate healthy life skills and serve as much needed role models for our teens. We do what the courts or other programs cannot do alone.

Youth impact is measured through both objective and subjective feedback from youth journals and Spirit Cards, mentor reports, and staff observation and reports. These vehicles provide valuable insight on the growth and transition youth make while in the program. Additional feedback is collected from probation officers, case workers, and parents who often see the positive changes that youth are making as a result of being involved in Spirit Sessions.

Our Outcomes Speak Volumes:

Surfrider Spirit Sessions effectively addresses the issues of Hawaii’s at-risk, vulnerable and adjudicated youth needing more services with an individualized approach. To date we have served over 700 youth, ages 10-18 through our core program “Spirit Sessions”.

We are proud to share with you the following outcomes from our 2018 Youth Impact report based on 81 core program youth, 101 community service kids and 7 Junior Mentors for spring, summer and fall programs. Youth reported the following:

  • 89% reported a strong positive shift in self-esteem and confidence

  • 73% experienced a positive shift and 13% experienced a strong positive shift in peer/adult relationships with mentors and a building of trust

  • 89% showed a positive and 2% a strong positive increased interest in citizenship including participating in volunteer work/community service activities and beach clean-ups

  • 73% reported a positive and 7% reported a strong positive in learning to live a healthier lifestyle

  • 3% showed positive and 7% showed a strong positive increase in understanding of Hawaiian Culture

Additionally, program teens identified the following significant changes in their lives as a result of attending our Spirit Sessions:

  • 100% reported being able surf after completing the core program

  • 88% reported that they now have a more positive attitude toward themselves

  • 91% reported they feel they possess several good qualities

  • 67% reported they now know what to do to stay out of trouble

  • 65% reported having a trusted adult to go to with their problems

  • 76% report having positive friends and role models (peer and adult) as a result of attending Spirit Sessions

  • 60% reported they now have a good role model in their life

  • 83% reported they have a more positive attitude towards caring for our environment

  • 98% reported they feel they think it is cool to participate in Spirit Sessions.


To review a complete copy of our 2018 Surfrider Spirit Sessions Youth Outcomes, please click here.

Alyssa’s Story

“Depression is like a blanket, it covers you completely. It holds you tight and won’t let go. It wraps itself around you and tells you lies. It grows bigger and bigger, until soon, you’re drowning. At the start of my freshman year of high school, I was smothered by a blanket of depression. The expectation to get good grades, make new friends, and plan my future constantly filled my mind and pressured me to be someone I wasn’t. As my classmates prepared for the next years of high school, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to make it to graduation. However, people in my life refused to let me turn to the darkness. They took my hand and guided me through the toughest years of my life. Help surrounded me in the form of my parents, my friends, and a program called Surfrider Spirit Sessions.

Surfrider helps youth in Hawai’i by teaching them life lessons and values through surfing. At each weekly session, I was greeted by the warm embrace of the program's mentors who taught us how to tackle waves, get past our adversity, and build a stronger future for ourselves. The mentors were positive role models that helped us grow by giving us the confidence to do things we didn't think we could do, like surf.

Like life, surfing is not easy. You have to be patient for the waves to come. You also have to accept that you won’t catch every wave that comes along. In my life, I felt like I was paddling so hard but could never catch a wave. I was trying so hard to be someone that I wasn’t and ended up losing myself. At Surfrider, the people I met weren’t intimidated by my problems, cheered on my accomplishments, and made me feel like I mattered. When I caught my first wave, it was life changing. It's such a rush to feel the soft sea spray hit your face and see the crystal blue water beneath you as you glide across the ocean. Each surfer is diverse, and there’s a chance to showcase your personality on the waves.

Just like catching that first wave, Surfrider was life changing. Surfrider connected me to people who encouraged me to take risks and connect with the ocean. Learning to surf and being in the ocean healed me. It gave me a place where I could relax and not think about my problems. With the saltwater all around me, I could feel my stresses and worries floating away. The ocean gave me a sense of peace and a greater perspective and appreciation for life. I could express myself in a unique way through surfing and showing my skills on the waves. Surfrider gave me the confidence to stand up and ride an epic wave of life to a brighter future.”