By Chris Stone
To surfer Ian Chartrand, the ocean is a nurturing mother and a place for healing.
If so, would there be a better place to take foster children?
“I thought about it last night. This is everybody’s momma out here, you know,” said Chartrand, who was a volunteer with Urban Surf 4 Kid’s “Surf with a Cop Day” Saturday at La Jolla Shores.
“So we all get to connect and be all together as one out there, so it brings me a lot of joy,” said Chartrand, who has trained lifeguards and surfers for more than 10 years.
“What we are able to give these kids is a chance to connect with the natural world and experience a kind of therapy that they’re not used to in city- and state-funded programs,” he added.
About 50 foster youths and more than 50 law enforcement officers gathered at the La Jolla beach for a day of surfing and learning.
In addition to two surf sessions, Urban Surf 4 Kids had an opportunity to explore law enforcement vehicles, see a K-9 demonstration and learn about careers in policing.
WaveWrecker, a surfboard and wetsuit hybrid, was available to keep kids afloat.
In the early afternoon, they had a paddle out to pay tribute to law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Craig Jenkins, San Diego chapter president for Urban Surf 4 Kids, said, “For a lot of our youth, the last interaction that they had with law enforcement wasn’t probably a memory that they want to remember.
“Today is different. We want to take those painful memories and we want to make them good ones. We’re getting them into the water where everyone is equal and we’re just having fun.”
Urban Surf 4 Kids is an outreach organization that works with orphan and foster kids. Using water sports as a catalyst, they teach kids how to first have fun and then give back to their communities and neighborhoods through local service projects.
Jason Philpot of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said it’s a good event to help the kids.
“They don’t get to interact with law enforcement very often,” he said, “so it’s nice to show them that we are people just like they are.
“They like having a good time and they can trust us. If they ever need anything, we are there for them,” he added.
Gavin Lanning, also with the Sheriff’s Department, had a good time as well.
“In law enforcement, you see all of the bad stuff,” he said. “But to be able to come out here and just spend the day with kids and see them smile constantly, it makes what we do totally worth it.
“I’m having as much fun as she is,” he said of a girl who wanted to surf again and again.
And there were smiles on all of the kids’ faces.
Jacob Dalton, who took part for the fourth time Saturday, talked about his developing surfing skills.
“I’m getting better, the 17-year-old said. “I caught some really big waves. It was cool. It was a really fun experience. I wish they had more programs for youth like us.”
Asked what he enjoyed the most, Dalton said, “The best part of it is knowing that I have people who care about me.”
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