By Brett Morey, chair of Surfers Unite Rotarian Fellowship and past president of the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle, California, USA
Have you ever thought of turning a hobby or passion into something even more beneficial through Rotary? I am a third generation Californian and grew up bodyboarding at Huntington Beach and Del Mar, before starting to surf 34 years ago. Back in May, I got this crazy idea to do something with my interest in surfing.
For years, we’ve all heard Rotary leaders talk about making Rotary fun, bringing youth into Rotary, and pushing our membership beyond 1.2 million members worldwide. It struck me, why not create a Rotary Fellowship that generates exciting activities and involves those we mentor through Youth Service programs? If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a member of Rotary, it’s that anything is possible.
So I called staff at Rotary International Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, and at their urging, attended the 2017 Rotary International Convention in Atlanta. Roaming the halls and mingling in the House of Friendship, I collected more than 150 signatures on a surfboard, and meet with several Rotarians active in Rotary Fellowships including Curtis Reinhardt from Arroyo Grande and Colin Weeks from the United Kingdom. We assembled an amazing leadership team of Rotarians from Hawaii, the United States, Australia, Mexico, and Kenya, and with the help of Scott Carr, our governor in District 5340, Surfers Unite Rotarian Fellowship (SURF) was born.
Since then, we have made tremendous strides. We have been approved and recognized by Rotary International. We have already completed 16 events, established our website, and grown in membership daily. We now have more than 320 members in over 20 countries. Our mission is to connect Rotarians interested in surfing, and attract youth into Rotary, while raising funds for Rotary causes.
On 27 January, more than 30 SURF members gathered to support the Boys to Men Mentoring Foundation with a 1 Wave Challenge and 5K Beach Run. Rotarians from several clubs, Rotaractors from University of California San Diego, and Interactors from James Madison and University City high schools took part in an attempt to set a world record by exceeding 110 surfers on the same wave at the same time. Sadly, even with 172 surfers, we weren’t able to grab the record. But we did have tons of fun and raised $90,000 for charity!
We will have a booth in the House of Friendship at the 2018 Rotary International Convention in Toronto. You can check us out on Facebook and Instagram @SURFSurfersUnite, and find out about upcoming events. If you are interested in being a Chapter Director or Rotaract SURF Ambassador, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.