Hukilau Camp celebrates 20 summers

Gathering this summer at the Epstein Street Beach Access in Nags Head, staff and students have launched the 20th season of Hukilau Surf Camp.

      Under cloudy and breezy skies, the camps began on June 22 and will continue on Saturday, July 6, July 13 and July 27, running from 8 to 11 a.m.

      The ministry of Nags Head Church, led by "Kahuna" Steve Wise and his team, has introduced more than 1,500 youth to surfing on the Outer Banks. Along with surfing, instruction is given about beach and ocean safety, how to identify and swim out of a rip current, red flags, lightning and the importance of keeping a clean beach.

      The camp's motto, taken from Isaiah 51:15, is "I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar."

      Wise said the location at the Epstein Street Beach Access, just south of the Windjammer Condos on the Beach Road, was “ideal for us” with its ample parking and some other special features. “The sandbar came back for us this year,” Wise explained. “And we can walk straight out to the break without having a trough in the middle or being in over our heads.”

      The morning camp is deliberately held as close as possible to low tide, Wise added, “so the water is a little shallower, and the waves break a little bit better for getting the white water and being able to stand up and ride it in.”

      Wise said he is excited to be celebrating the camp’s 20th anniversary. “It’s twenty summers! So we have a special anniversary T-shirt and we’ll have a drawing for a gift certificate to Surfin’ Spoon and other prizes, along with a packet my wife Diana put together with really good brochures on rip currents and sharks.”

      During his devotional, Wise quoted John 14:6 and challenged the campers, "You have a lot of decisions to make as you grow up. The most important is choosing to make Christ your savior."

      Pastor Rick Lawrenson was on the beach for this historic season opener. "Steve loves doing this," he said. "He's done a great job and built a fantastic team." He recalled that in 1999 Wise heard Matt Glock, a missionary to France, urge his listeners to "find your passion and then find a way to use it for Christ."

      Wise recalled that he realized his passion was surfing. And he made a life-altering decision:  "I'll use that. And the Lord has blessed it and used it."

      Wise learned to surf as a boy while living in Hawaii for three years when his dad was stationed there in the Navy. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion. And Wise says he knew just what to call his surf camp: "Hukilau." The Hawaiian word refers to an ancient fishing method in which a large group of people gather to cast a net from shore and then pull it back, usually with a tremendous catch of fish.

      "It's a surf fishing party and a celebration of the harvest," Wise says.

      Noting that the coaches are experienced surfers and/or lifeguards, Wise says the camps welcome Outer Banks locals, as well as out of town vacationers. "Our doors are open to all who want to learn the basics of surfing. Helping a camper catch his first wave is as exciting for us as it is for the camper. It's something you'll never forget!"

      The camp tries to keep the cost down so everybody can afford to attend. The registration fee of $25 includes instruction, snacks and the special “20 summers” T-shirt. Boards are provided, or surfers may bring their own.

      This will be a busy summer for Wise and the camp staff, who will be going to Cape Hatteras Baptist Church in Frisco to do a three-day surf camp July 23-25. On July 29 they will hold a surf camp for Alex McFarland's Youth Apologetics Camp at Camp Cale in Hertford. They will also help again this summer with Surfing For Autism.

      To register, call Steve or Diana Wise at 441-1696 or visit Hukilau Surf Camp on Facebook.



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