Operation Surf instructor walking into the water at Morro Bay on the second day of Operation Surf.
Photo by Sameer Wahba Assistant Photo & Video Editor
By Amanda Vasquez
Distribution Director/Staff Writer
Professional surfers and military vets will be at the Morro Bay state beach for this years Operation Surf event.
“ [Volunteering helps me] give back to those who weren’t as fortunate as me,” said Keenan Hartig, Cuesta student and veteran.
Hartig returned from time served in the navy during the war against Iraq.
Operation Surf is a volunteer organization where students can sign up to help wounded veterans learn how to surf.
Most of the veterans are missing arms and legs. Some of them are missing both arms or both legs.
“A lot of them come in and feel like their life is over, but when they see there is still stuff that they can do and there are many therapies, such as the ocean, that have healing properties, they have a new light on life,” Hartig said.
Hartig and other Cuesta students make Operation Surf an annual volunteer experience.
Operation Surf began as a healing project for the American military veterans that were receiving treatment at the Brooke family medical center in Austin, Texas.
“Over the years I began to accumulate the patterns that I really learned from. I used those experiences to develop a curriculum [for Operation Surf],” said Van Curaza, founder of Operation Surf.
“I started to incorporate what really helped me recover from times that I have struggled in my life. Operation Surf has grown a lot since the beginning,” Curaza said.
Curaza started surfing in 1973 when he was 10 years old. He is a pro surfer now.
Although Curaza does not wish to give out names of volunteers and veterans, he said that many Cuesta students are involved.
Wounded veterans and active duty military come together for this annual opportunity to train with world-class surfers.
It is not required to know how to surf to volunteer. There are positions open for traffic or crowd control at the hotel, site setup and equipment helpers, lunch crew and beach helpers.
Operation Surf has grown since its beginning in 2008.
“One of the biggest things that created what [Operation Surf] is today is service work and finding how I can best serve others,” Curaza said. “I never thought I would receive so much personally by giving to others.”
Operation Surf is a volunteer opportunity for Cuesta Students. Volunteer slots are open Oct. 9, Oct. 11 and Oct. 12.
Visit http://amazingsurfadventures.org/get-involved/volunteer/ for more details.