The one-day surf camp was barely two hours old and all Rocky Raynor could do was think of next year, and thoughts of trying to make it a week-long camp.
Some others, meanwhile, hope Raynor plans another camp for sometime later this month.
As Raynor walked at Roosevelt State Beach, he struggled to determine who was having more fun, the campers or the counselors. As that thought floated through his head, he smiled broadly. It was the first time Raynor hosted a camp for autistic children.
He was amazed at the results. One camper, Wesley Matthias, 12, of Sacramento, who got into a wet suit as soon as he showed up, reluctantly came out of the water for lunch, three hours later. The camper had so much energy that, by lunch, the two counselors assigned to him needed downtime to regain their own energy.
The foundation for the camp came about when Raynor was asked to introduce members of the Coastside’s Square Peg Foundation to members of the Horse Boy Foundation, based out of Texas. Those groups asked to meet with the Indo Jax Surf School, based in North Carolina.
One of Raynor’s childhood friends, Jack Viorel runs Indo Jax in Wilmington, N.C. Viorel hosted similar camps in North Carolina, and they have been a big success.
All three groups approached Raynor about hosting a camp here. Raynor said he would run the camp if he could get some help. Square Peg provided the financial help with the other organizations and the Half Moon Bay Surf Club provided the counselors.
“We have nearly everyone from the surf club here,” Raynor said. “Most of the kids work with the Junior Lifeguards. They got the day off to be here.”
Seven children participated in the camp, with 19 members of the Half Moon Bay Surf Club serving as counselors. Eight surf club coaches also aided, along with two members of the Boys & Girls Club of the Coastside, five people from Indo Jax and two more helpers from both the Horse Boy and Square Peg foundations.
“I thought it would be a little stressful,” said Malcolm Feix, a soon-to-be freshman at Half Moon Bay High School said. “But the kids have been great.”
Another camper, William Milwee, 8, of Burlingame, admitted he was a little scared at the start of the day.
“I tried to surf and it was awesome,” he said. “Being on the board was fun.”
Raynor received letters of praise from parents of the autistic children shortly after the camp.
While he’s not sure about another surf camp this month, he predicts three camps for next year.