No disrespect to Bill Fordes, but if one shows up at a certain tower and there are a team of kids from the local schools surfing for PE, they have just as much of a right to be there as you (“Surf camps getting out of hand,” Letters to the Editor, Oct. 15).
As someone who grew up in the 1970s surfing beaches from Trestles to the county line, everyone knows the rules of surfing are not in any Department of Motor Vehicles-style rule book. There is a thing known as common sense. Inexperienced surfers better watch out when entering a zone occupied by some local bad boys who will gladly engage in a fist fight for losing a wave to anyone they consider to be a kook.
But, in the case of one particular tower south of Bay Street, the junior and senior high school kids who do PE, as well as those who are on a competitive surf team, are well known to be on a particular schedule at their regular tower. Perhaps, for those surfers, like myself, who find it hard to co-exist with too many groms at once, it may be best to not interfere with the kids and surf at another spot when they do their thing. The kids deserve a place like this to not be bothered by grumpy old-schoolers like ourselves.
As far as the private surf schools that teach mostly tourists, I think that is another issue all together. In my day, our motto was “tourists go home.” But, in reality, tourists deserve to use the beach just as much as any of us locals — especially kids from the inner city who never get to the beach. In fact, experienced local school-kid surfers mentioned above volunteer several days per year to teach inner city kids how to surf. The group is known as Surf Bus (lasurfbus.com) and is operated by people who live in Santa Monica. If one looked into it, one would find that most private surf schools are operated by those who do not even live in Santa Monica, but get a permit to run schools for profit.
The random surf schools who are really in it for the money, more than the stoke, mostly teach inexperienced people with too many students per instructor. And the instructors are not really that experienced as instructors, either. At least one school was running deals on Groupon, attracting bargain hunters who will get their one cheap lesson, to never come back again. It’s a handful of those who are running a school to make a buck (from one timers) rather than really teaching someone to get good form in the long term that is more of a problem, in my humble, but observant opinion. There is a big difference between the local public school program and the private schools. The Surf Bus affiliates are teaching kids good etiquette and to also be stewards of the sea and environment.
The debate should really be about how to limit the private schools from creating an overcrowding situation with too many non-experienced first timers that has been occurring everywhere, at all towers and in between, because of lax oversight of the permitting situation.
Karina De Beers