Amazing Surf Adventures is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded by Van Curaza in 2008. It originally began as a nonprofit for at-risk youth, but switched its focus after partnering with the Brooke Army Medical Center’s Center for Intrepid and the San Antonio-based nonprofit, Operation Comfort in 2009 to host a program that would become Operation Surf. Today, Operation Surf has become ASA’s primary program.
Operation Surf is a program that offers week-long adaptive surfing trips for wounded-veteran and active-duty military men and women. We pair our heroes with their own individual surf instructor and develop a goal-based curriculum around their unique abilities. Operation Surf offers an environment of camaraderie and healing to its participants by giving them a shared experience in the water each day. Beyond surfing, our program works to facilitate strong bonds by having all participants and staff take their meals together and talk about their progress and challenges. To further strengthen these bonds, participants are all housed in the same lodging throughout the week.
No, we have highly experienced surfing instructors on staff who show our participants everything they need to know. Our instructors work with participants to adapt their surfing technique and equipment to accommodate physical limitations as needed.
Our program extends to active-duty military with primarily service-connected injuries, in addition to veterans. Since 2009, we have helped over 500 active-duty and veteran heroes, with an average of 20 participants per event, but have held programs with group sizes as small as five members and as large as 30.
Yes. According to a study by Dr. Russell Crawford – as described in his newly published book, “The Impact of Ocean Therapy on Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” – surfing therapy offers an alternative form of nature-based therapy that could potentially be effective for treating veterans with PTSD.
Operation Surf is a free, all-inclusive program for participants, and is made possible by donations, sponsorship, and volunteers.
All our participants need to bring is a determination to succeed and a willingness to be supported (plus whatever clothing, medicines, and other incidentals they would normally bring when traveling). All surfing equipment, food, accommodations, and other needs are provided by Amazing Surf Adventures.
At a typical Operation Surf event, participants arrive in a motorcade, are welcomed by the community, and undergo an orientation. Then they receive dry-land instruction, including a discussion of any technique or equipment adaptations that may be needed, and are trained in equipment and ocean safety. This is followed by several days of surfing, during which goals are set, reached, and conquered, and perceived physical limitations are surpassed. In the evenings, there are dinners filled with camaraderie, bonding, and story sharing. At the final dinner, awards are given to acknowledge the participants’ accomplishments.
Safety is our number one priority. Our instructors are trained to spot any problems before they become serious, and to always put their participants’ safety first. Additionally, we have a considerable Water Crew of CPR and Lifeguard-certified support staff, as well as Emergency Services staff present at all times at the beach. During heavier swells, we often have Water Crew members patrolling the lineup on jet-skis with rescue materials on hand. The key is constant supervision, and an open line of communication between instructor and participant.
Our events and overall operating costs are 100% paid for by financial and in-kind donations from our sponsors and donors. We’re committed to being fully transparent about how these contributions are spent. Please see our Financials page for full details.