Riding The Waves in Muizenberg, South Africa (09 October 2023) — The Local Surf Lounge Academy, sustained through the generosity of fellow surfers, extends surf lessons to boys from impoverished communities.

Growing up in Vrygrond, Shuan Solomons and his friends faced a daily 30-minute trek along bustling roads to Muizenberg beach, relying on begging or scavenging bins for sustenance.

Solomons harbored a longing to surf but found no one willing to lend a board. In 2017, he joined a local organization’s surfing program, which, while beneficial, involved pricey equipment and didn’t fully integrate some children into society.

The expense of a good surfboard, excluding necessities like wetsuits and accessories, exceeds R5,000. Fast forward over two decades, and Solomons, alongside a dedicated group of volunteers, operates the Local Surf Lounge Academy in Muizenberg. Once a surf clubhouse, it now serves as a surf school and sanctuary for boys from impoverished backgrounds or those living on the streets.

Officially launched in 2020, the academy emerged from an idea conceived several years prior.

When Covid lockdowns hit, Solomons, facing retrenchment, took charge of the clubhouse, transforming it into a “safe house” providing food, study space, and refuge from challenging home environments.

Shane Lentoor, overseeing safety and community outreach, notes that some program participants maintain family support and attend school, while others, having dropped out, roam the streets. The clubhouse, adorned with surfboards and wetsuits, is a lifeline.

Rentals and surf lessons generate additional income, vital for covering the R20,000 monthly clubhouse expenses, utilities, and food. Solomons emphasizes the challenge of scraping by, striving to provide stipends to trained youth leaders coaching and repairing boards.

Surf instructor Shane Lentoor underscores the struggles some children face, including drug use and the lure of gangsterism in their communities. The clubhouse aims to divert them from these perils, offering a haven that keeps them away from the streets and fosters a positive, supportive environment, while riding the waves of youth.

 

Photo cred: Life on White – Canva