The Ucluelet Secondary School Surfrider Youth Club is enjoying one epic ride.
In the past year alone, the crew of about 20 high school students launched a waste-free lunch program, they undertook 20-hours of Wilderness First Aid training to support remote beach cleanups, and they helped organize the first-ever Surfrider Youth Conference.
Club member Tristan Hinder-Hohlweg hosted sold out screenings of his environmental film ‘Finding Solitude’ with co-director Jaiden George. Chapter vice chair Toby Theriault led a massive school strike for climate march in solidarity with millions of students around the globe. And, Canadian junior surf team member and youth club crew Jasmine Porter claimed her first major victory at a Western Surfing Association (WSA) Championship Tour stop at the San Clemente Pier.
Most recently, the local Tofino-Ucluelet crew received a Wavemaker Award for Outstanding Club from the big Kahuna’s within the Surfrider Foundation. The special recognition isn’t handed out every year, and they outperformed 82 Surfrider clubs across the U.S. and Canada, including university run clubs, to earn the nod.
“These guys just absolutely blow all expectations out of the water,” said Alys Hoyland, Surfrider Pacific Rim’s youth co-ordinator.
“They are my baby,” said youth club founding father and Nuu-Chah-Nulth education worker Jason Sam. He went on to credit past chair Emmett Wellman for his commitment to the club during the early stages.
Current USS Surfrider Youth Club chair Seth Stere was a bit speechless when he read the message about the award from Surfrider Foundation’s CEO Chad Nelsen in his inbox.
“I’m just very proud of all of us and extremely grateful that we won it. I just love the area. I have a lot of fun going out and doing what we do. If we can keep it nice for other people to see and experience, that’s a big motivation for me,” said Stere.
“Most of our program ideas are very collaborative. It’s always everyone coming together on something,” he continued. “We are all motivated to keep the area clean and do what we can to preserve it.”
Hoyland said working with the local youth is always fresh and inspiring.
“These kids from this small town that most people have never heard of in the Surfrider Foundation have absolutely just kind of re-written the book on what is achievable by young people in this movement. I’m super proud of them,” she said.
“They are willing to believe that the sky is the limit. And they prove that too you know, like organizing the youth club conference. They just make stuff happen,” Hoyland adds.
USS Surfrider Youth Club member Toby Theriault talks to her peers during the inaugural Surfrider Pacific Rim Youth Conference. (Surfrider photo)
Over 100 youth and teachers convened in Ucluelet on Feb. 20 and 21, 2020 for the inaugural Surfrider Pacific Rim Youth Conference.
Students travelled from Vancouver, Maaqtusiis School in Ahousaht, Ditidaht Community School, and Kyuquot Elementary Secondary School on the northwest corner of Vancouver Island to attend the two-day event for youth, led by youth.
Toby Theriault said the climate march and the youth conference were morale boosters for the club.
“It was a real big difference for us to know that other people cared and that we weren’t just the only ones out here, especially at our age. I’d also like to say if anyone in high school is reading this, we are still happening next year, so come and help,” said Theriault.
Hoyland said celebrating the victory will come in time – and when they receive the physical trophy.
“It’s been a bit tricky with school being closed. When we get the award, there will be a big party for sure,” she said.
Surfrider Pacific Rim chair Michelle Hall also picked up a Wavemaker Award a couple years ago for Outstanding Chapter Leadership.