Surfrider Foundation CA/Hawaii Conference 2014

Surfers Crack The Code in Ventura

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel


The phrase on everyone’s lips at the Surfrider Foundation’s California & Hawaii Chapter Conference in Ventura, CA, this past weekend was “I will.”

I Will

Pulling in to the Crowne Plaza

crowne plaza parking lot with boards

crowne-plaza-ventura hotel logo







 in cars loaded with surfboards, wetsuits, and beach gear, Surfrider members were ready to catch some waves at Surfer’s Point…

surfers carrying boards

surfers on boards waving


surfing action



share the stoke in meetings and workshops…

photo 1



sharing the stoke lunch

surfrider party


DSC04317and listen to keynote speaker Shaun Tomson.

Champion surfer and environmentalist Tomson, who wrote the book, The Surfer’s Code – 12 Simple Lessons for Riding through Life*, was eager to share the life lessons he’s learned from surfing.

Underlying each lesson is the importance of commitment – saying “I will” when it comes to accomplishing a goal or overcoming a challenge.

The-beauty-of-mauritiusTomson, who has ridden some of the world’s biggest waves, told a story about surfing on Mauritius, an island off the coast of South Africa, early one morning with one of his “mates.” They were “riding in the tube when the sun was red and the water looked like it was boiling.”

It was one of those epic surfing days of pure joy with the two of them “exchanging wave after wave…and there was absolute silence inside the tube.”

Sharing the stoke, Tomson asked, “What is this place?” “It’s One Eye Wave Break,” his friend replied. “That’s because it looks like a human eye.”

One Eye nini_wave_l


BullsharkLater, walking up the beach, a fisherman stopped Tomson and said, with alarm, “You weren’t surfing that, were you? Do you know what it’s called?” Then the fisherman told his version of how One Eye Wave Break got its name: “There’s a Zambesi shark out there. And, when he’s ready to strike, you only see one eye.”

The life lesson here, said Tomson, is: Everything is a matter of perspective. How we see things makes a difference in the commitments we make. Are we guided by joy or fear? Do we say “I will” or I won’t?”

SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel could feel the energy in the hotel’s Top of the Harbor room as everyone talked about making an even stronger commitment to achieving the Surfrider Foundation’s mission of protecting the world’s oceans, waves, and beaches.





DSC04357Started 30 years ago with just a handful of surfers in Malibu, the Surfrider Foundation is now a worldwide organization with over 250,000 supporters, volunteers, and activists.


Glenn Hening, one of Surfrider’s three founders, was on hand to share stories about the early days and how they made a commitment to save the beach. Little did anyone know the impact that commitment would have in the years to come.


Glenn and SRF slide


To mark the occasion, Aipa Surf created a custom “30-year anniversary” surfboard that was presented at the conference.

DSC04310 DSC04311

The focus of the California/Hawaii Conference was on ways to build membership and strengthen advocacy programs.

DSC04804Pete Stauffer, Ocean Program Manager, emphasized the need to “protect special places” from offshore drilling and other threats. “What’s your special place?” he asked, sharing his own – a secluded beach in Oregon.

Kawela Bay, on Oahu’s North Shore, is a special place that was saved, said Surfrider’s Hawaii Regional Manager and conference co-coordinator Stuart Coleman.

KawelaWith the bay threatened by local development, Surfrider “worked on both political and economic fronts” to ensure that land was set aside and could never be developed.

To achieve Surfrider’s goals, Stephanie Sekich, California Policy Manager, said “long-term planning is the key,” noting that Surfer’s Point, just outside the conference hotel, is an example of how you can preserve and protect a coastline.

Chapter Advisory GroupLauren Campbell, Ximena Waissbluth, and Tony Soriano told everyone that the recently-formed Chapter Advisory Council will help to further strengthen Surfrider’s organization. Creating a vital link between chapter activists and management, it facilitates interaction and feedback.

Ed Mazzarella, Director of Chapters, agreed that it’s necessary to all work together – “activists, staff and board – to have a shared clarity and vision.”

New Members Director Nancy Eiring said new database technology will enable the organization to better “retain new members and keep them involved.” Having supporters who are passionate about the environment is critical.


Chad Nelsen, Environmental Manager, advised, “We need to be both reactive and proactive.” This includes everything from doing beach cleanups to educating the public and lobbying for state and federal legislation.

People need to know that 80% of California’s coastline is eroding. Since 1901 there’s been a 7-inch increase in the sea level.

danger-erosion-signDuring lunch and the afternoon breakout sessions everyone was discussing strategy.

Angela Howe, Legal Director, summarized the legislative accomplishments that have been made, including efforts to ban polystyrene and Manhattan Beach’s Smoke Free in Public Places law.


Paul Herzog, Ocean Friendly Gardens Director, reminded everyone that “urban runoff is the number one source of ocean pollution.”

Related to this, Senior Staff Scientist Rick Wilson described what Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force is doing to monitor water quality and keep the public informed about pollution issues.

Nancy and SarahThroughout the conference, co-coordinators Stuart Coleman, Nancy Hastings and Sarah Damron kept the proceedings going and everyone on track.

And Shaun Tomson had one more story and life lesson to share…about his personal special place near Santa Barbara – Hammonds Reef – located near the mythical Rainbow Bridge of Chumash Indian lore.


Said to have been created 13,000 years ago by the Earth Mother Hutash, the bridge was made from a rainbow to enable the people on the islands to move to the mainland. But, some of the people looked down when they were crossing it and fell into the sea. To keep them from drowning, Hutash turned them into dolphins.


One day Tomson took his nine-year-old son Matthew to the reef to feel the sacredness of the spot. They ended up talking all afternoon. Matthew drew a circle in the sand to mark the sacred spot and they passed a stick back and forth as they each told stories.

stick in sand

They left the stick planted in the sand, but Matthew took a stone with him that he said contained the spirits of all who had been there and the stories. Now that stone is in the front entry of Tomson’s home.

The life lesson here is: The importance of connectedness. We all need to connect – with each other, the earth and the past – and share the stories that define us and embody what we hope to achieve.

end of conf group photo

This is something that Surfrider Foundation supporters do, working together to shape its environmental message and communicate it to others. In essence, sharing stories.

SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti agreed that Ventura, which means “good fortune,” was the perfect spot for the 2014 conference.

city pierWith its beautiful beaches and friendly people, it was a special place for everyone to connect and recommit ourselves to Surfrider’s mission, saying, “I will.”

*Shaun Tomson’s Surfer’s Code


– I will never turn back on the ocean
– I will always paddle back out
– I will take the drop with commitment
– I will know that there will always be another wave
– I will realize that all surfers are joined by one ocean
– I will paddle around the impact zone
– I will never fight a rip tide
– I will watch out for other surfers after a big set
– I will pass on my stoke to a non-surfer
– I will ride, and not paddle in to shore
– I will catch a wave every day, even in my mind
– I will honor the sport of kings

Thanks to Gina Maslach, Norma and Alex Sellers, and Tony and Alex Soriano for their photo contributions.


Alex looking at beach


Look for a future SurfWriter Girls story about Ventura and the fun things you can do on a day-trip or weekend getaway.

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Beach Eats To-Go

Perfect Pit Stops on Way to the Beach

food tray on car door

Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel

With the warm days of summer soon to be replaced by fall’s autumn leaves, there’s no time to waste a single golden moment…especially waiting in crowded beach lines for food.


When you’re headed out to the beach or driving down PCH, it’s a good idea to grab some food to-go. You’ll have something to eat on the way or when you get there…and be ready to drop your towel on the sand or paddle out to catch the best waves.


Los Alamitos makes a perfect pit stop for beach eats – en route to both Seal Beach and Huntington Beach with great grab-and-go food that doesn’t need a knife and fork.


SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel know just where to go – Pasty Kitchen, Volcano Burgers and Taco Surf.





SurfWriter Girl Sunny has been going to Pasty Kitchen (3641 Katella Avenue) forever. She’s such a fan of the pasties (meat pies baked without a pan) that when she walks in the door everyone recognizes her.


Along with its traditional beef and chicken pasties made with a mix of potatoes and carrots, Pasty Kitchen has vegetarian pasties – Sunny’s favorite – and even apple- and cherry-filled dessert pasties.



Pasties (pronounced “pass-tees”) originated in Europe in the 1300s and are closely associated with Cornwall, England, where coal miners favored the meat pies because they were easy to carry.


With over 50-years of experience making pasties, Pasty Kitchen knows how to create perfect pies that are packed with flavor and are just the right size to fit in your hand.


DSC02933The baking area in the tiny shop is in plain sight from the order counter. So, you can even watch the pasties being made and pulled out of the oven. “For a little shop they have a lot going on,” says Sunny.


Pasty Kitchen has a couple of umbrella tables outside, if you want to linger. Or just grab the hot pies and head out! At little more than two dollars each, you can enjoy an authentic taste of Cornwall that people have sought out for centuries.

Another way to jumpstart your taste buds on a SoCal beach day is to cruise through the drive-thru window at Volcano Burgers (3652 Cerritos Avenue), which has been making burgers for over thirty years.

DSC02983You’ll get a hamburger ($2.59) unlike any other you’ve tasted. When you see how big it is, with the ingredients spilling over the bun, you’ll be glad that the take-out orders come in boxes instead of bags.



The same goes for the chili cheese fries ($3.69), which are hard to consume in a single sitting.


The melted cheddar cheese covering the fries in lava-like splendor tells you that these fries are fit for a king or, in this case, a goddess – Pele, the Hawaiian Volcano Goddess. So, be sure to ask for extra napkins. Lots of them!

VB’s menu includes hot dogs, chili cheese dogs, gyros, BLTs, chicken strips, zucchini fries, and other hand-held food for the open road along with classic shakes and floats to stick in your cup holders.


Given the large portion sizes, though, you may need to loosen your seat belt a bit to accommodate the extra calories.

If you’re in a hurry, just be sure to avoid the noon lunch and after-school crush of students from Los Al High across the street. When classes let out everyone makes a dash for VB.


Taco Surf (10542 Los Alamitos Boulevard and other SoCal locations) lives up to its Mexican and beach-themed name, offering a variety of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and more in a casual, ocean type hangout with surf boards, bright colors and beach decor.



Whether you drop by to get something to go or stay around to “Party on!” as the signs say, the staff is eager to make you feel welcome.

taco-surf Party On sign

The three-taco special ($8.75) is just the thing to take to the beach and you have a choice of beef, chicken or fish. So, you can get one of each.


Taco Surf has been around for over 25 years providing a taste of Baja California’s surf culture and food, utilizing family recipes enjoyed for generations. The menu includes a wide range of taquitos, tostados and quesadillas and lunch and dinner combos.

DSC02962And, if you’re heading back from the beach early, Happy Hour starts at 2:00 p.m. on Monday – Friday with $1.50 tacos and $2.50 draft beers. So, even if you didn’t get in a full day of surfing or sunbathing, you can still relax and enjoy a beach vibe.


When you’re in the mood to splurge a little, try the carne asada ($13.75) made with charbroiled flank steak or the pescado fish of the day ($12.95) topped with fresh mango salsa. Both come with Spanish rice, refried beans and tortillas.

With its other locations along the coast in Belmont Shore, Surfside, Seal Beach, Westminster and Dana Point, you can soak up Taco Surf’s friendly atmosphere from practically anywhere in OC.


So, whenever you get a craving for one of its tacos, there’s a Taco Surf nearby. This works out great for SurfWriter Girls Sunny and Patti when we’re out covering beach stories and finding new places to share with our readers.


Whether you’re loading up your car for a day at the beach or on your way home, it’s good to know that there’s no shortage of purrfect pit stops for beach eats to-go.


Adding up their combined years in business, Pasty Kitchen, Volcano Burgers and Taco Surf have been satisfying the community’s food urges for over 100 years. That translates into a lot of meat pies, burgers and tacos…and definitely napkins!

red napkin dispenser

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Please post your comment below. Comments will appear the next day.

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Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel hold the exclusive rights to this copyrighted material. Publications wishing to reprint it may contact them at Individuals and non-profit groups are welcome to post it on social media sites as long as credit is given.