OUTDOORS: Surf’s up for camp at LaPush

OK KIDS, THOSE of you who have dreamed about trying out surfing, hanging ten in surf slang, now’s your chance.

The sixth annual Surfing and Traditions Camp for kids, which is completely free, is scheduled for Friday in LaPush.

How little can you be to participate in the camp?

“Well, let’s see . . . let’s say you need your parents’ permission,” Frank Crippen said.

Crippen, owner of Port Angeles’ own surf shop, Northwest Surf Co. (360-452-5144), is co-sponsor of the event along with Surfrider Foundation, a national organization with a North Olympic Peninsula chapter.

“The camp is designed to show local youth the resources they have in their own back yard,” Crippen said.

There are slots for 40 boys and girls of all ages to take part in the camp, set to last from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for one session and 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. for a second session for the same group of kids.

The camp takes place on LaPush’s First Beach down by the Quileute tribal schoolhouse. Mostly Forks and LaPush children attend the camp but Crippen said any child on the Peninsula is invited.

Snacks and refreshment will be provided along with the surf boards and wet suits.

No one surfs in the Pacific Northwest without a wet suit unless you’re a polar bear. The water is just too cold.

Crippen, who has been surfing for 35 years (“Do I have to tell you? That will give away my age”) says there will be one instructor for every two kids.

Crippen, who expects a full house for the free camp, will be one of the teachers.

“We have no problem filling up the slots,” he said. “We get more kids than we can use each year.”

He advises that kids preregister for the camp by calling him at 360-452-5144. But just showing up at the camp is OK, too. Just get there early, he said.

Besides in-the-water lessons, the children will be taught respect for the beach and other environmental issues.

Surfrider Foundation, which Crippen belongs to, is a surfer environmental group.

In addition to the kids camp, Northwest Surf Co. and Surfrider Foundation also will sponsor a beach cleanup and surfing contest for adults Sunday, also at First Beach.

“We like to clean up the beach and keep it nice because the Quileute tribe lets us use the beach for surfing year-round,” Crippen said.

And the day after Independence Day (which is Saturday) is a great time to clean the beach.

“We clean up all the fireworks and everything else,” Crippen said.

Cleanup starts at 9 a.m. with the surfing contest beginning at about 11 a.m.

There are a few hundred surfers on the Peninsula, and many of them will be teaching the kids Friday and then competing Sunday.

The contest may attract less surfers than in the past, Crippen said.

“We didn’t advertise it as much as we normally do,” he said. “Usually we would get surfers from all over the state and Oregon.”

But this year it will be mostly Peninsula surfers competing in the contest.

“It will be a smaller group but we will have fun,” Crippen said.

While LaPush has good waves to surf on, it is nothing like the top surfing beaches around the world.

“LaPush has fun waves,” Crippen said. “They’re good, fun waves because they are consistent.”

Fun waves seem to be tailor-made for Crippen.

He seems to enjoy having any kind of fun.

“I’m a janitor,” he said when he was first asked what his title was at North by Northwest Surf Co.

“OK, I’m the owner if you’re not a bill collector. Really, I’m just a regular guy.”

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