MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. – Being able to surf during the pandemic is a feeling Bailey Butler couldn’t help but feel grateful for.
“It’s amazing. It’s exhilarating. I love it because it’s a big rush,” Butler said.
Butler is one of many students who surfs with CampSurf’s day camps each year in the El Porto area of Manhattan Beach. This year, however, due to Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 restrictions, the season's Summer Use Licenses that surf camps need to operate on the beach were suspended until the middle of June.
“I’m glad it reopened because it just makes it a lot easier to get through quarantine with having stuff to do,” Butler said.
The months-long closure caused CampSurf, like many other businesses, to go financially into the red. When Los Angeles County allowed day camps to reopen with modifications in mid-June, they saw a chance to rebuild what they lost as the demand for private surf lessons surged.
To keep surfers, day campers and instructors like Connor Bennett safe, the camp added hand sanitizing stations, limited the amount of day campers, and required instructors to wear masks when not in the water. They also mandated disinfecting surfboards after each use and maintaining recommended social distancing.
These few extra steps are helping everyone who's taking part in the camp get back in the water safely.
“We’re all very happy to get back down here and getting to teach kids and I think it’s best for everybody that things like this kind of do remain open,” Bennett said.
With students continue distance learning in the fall, CampSurf plans to extend some of its services into October, but until then, it’s a welcome escape from the impacts of this pandemic for Butler.
“It’s been a little different wearing a mask to come down here. I’ve never really had to do that before. But I mean it’s all worth it. Because if it’s helping us stay safe then we can have opportunities to do more things,” Butler said.
While the reopening helped businesses like CampSurf attempt to recover what they had lost, Butler, Bennett, and CampSurf will continue to do everything they can to continue riding out the waves of uncertainty, safely, in the water.