Seas the Day!
At Brentwood, Saturdays are usually spent in academic classes, followed by an hour or two of athletic activity, and then free time. Not so, however, for students in Outdoor Pursuits this past weekend!
On Friday, as the rest of the school was busily engaged in its arts, the students in ODP loaded our camping and kayaking gear into a truck, and boarded the bus in the late afternoon. At just before 7:00 pm, we reached our destination: Jordan River. This classic BC West Coast beach is a popular destination for surfing enthusiasts from all over Vancouver Island. Kayak surfing is a lesser-known but just as exhilarating activity that the lucky students in Outdoor Pursuits would be given the chance to experience the next day. But as we arrived on Friday evening, the sound of crashing waves nearby was all there was to indicate the activities of the following morning, all potential views being shrouded in darkness.
Upon arriving at our campsite, we all worked together so that in an impressively short amount of time, tents and tarps were upright, a campfire was lit, and delicious smells were wafting from the makeshift camp kitchen. As per ODP end-of-term tradition, the dinner we enjoyed was a potluck. Each student prepared food on the campsite using the fire and cookstove, and the result was a mouth-watering array of various dishes, including fresh frittata, homemade burgers, and brownies cooked over the campfire. Bellies full, we soon relaxed in our tents to fall asleep to the sound of waves pounding the shoreline right outside.
By 6:00 am on Saturday morning, cars began rolling into the parking lot as other eager surfers prepared to get on the water. We rose at a slightly more reasonable time, as the sun rose in a cloudy sky, washing the campsite in light. After a delicious breakfast of French toast, sausages, oranges and hot chocolate, we too eagerly donned wetsuits, lifejackets, and paddling helmets, and walked to the ocean’s edge carrying kayaks and paddles.
Kayak surfing is initially intimidating no doubt, and far from easy. At times, the waves seem to have no objective other than to flip the kayak upside down, forcing the paddler to perform a wet exit, drag their boat to shore, empty it of water, and battle breaking waves to head back out to the surf again. But as with most difficult things, the rewards are immense.
As Aatya U, Allard ‘20 put it, “Surfing is the best feeling in the world. It genuinely feels like you’re flying.” One moment you are paddling furiously, a wave breaking right behind you, picking up your kayak as if it were nothing more than a piece of drifting flotsam or jetsam. The next, you are shot down the face of the wave faster than your kayak has ever moved, and I, for one, am unable to keep the grin off my face (until it results in a mouth full of saltwater, that is)!
Though a drizzly morning dedicatedly progressed into a thorough downpour in the afternoon, nothing could quell the excitement of the group. Throughout the exhausting and exhilarating day, some ODP members like Evan C, Whitall ‘22, experienced (if by accident or on purpose) unexpected but exciting tactics like “Backwards wave surfing”. Others like Vincent Y, Whitall ‘22 took a positive outlook, and viewed the experience of being flipped multiple times as an opportunity to “review my wet exits”.
I think it is safe to say, however, that every single person relished the opportunity to spend a night and day in such a beautiful place, caught at least a few amazing surfs, and most importantly, enjoyed themselves immensely. Thank you to Mr Norman for putting in the time and effort to make such an amazing opportunity available to all of us in Outdoor Pursuits, and for making it feel “nothing like a mandatory sport” as Aatya U, Allard ‘20 reflected.
Sarah R, Mackenzie ‘20