This weekend, a group of USYD students piled into a bus to begin the journey towards Gerroa, a remote coastal town in NSW to attend a mini surf camp. Over the two-hour bus ride, our surroundings slowly transformed from crowded streets and skyscrapers to empty fields and a never-ending shoreline. Within seconds of our arrival at Seven Mile Beach, someone came across a spider and alerted the group that it was “the size of a dinner plate.” Chaos ensued as people tripped over each other trying to get to the safety of their cabins and claim a top bunk. I formed a cabin group with two people I already knew and four others that I met on the bus, and we bonded quickly under such close quarters. We stacked all our dishes and silverware in a corner on the floor, laid out our bathing suits for the following morning, and went to sleep.
We woke up early the next morning to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast and claim our wetsuits before entering the waves. A surfboard takes enormous strength to carry so I only brought the essentials to the beach: a pair of goggles. Seeing underwater is a superpower that I can’t swim without. At the beach, we introduced ourselves to the instructors by saying our names and favorite smells, which inspired our team name: Sniffs Up. Our first lesson consisted of a very simple list of steps to do once you catch a wave: push up, chicken wing, kick Amanda, and stand tall. We practiced this over and over on the sand until the heat became unbearable, and then we dragged our surfboards into the water. The first wave I caught was more powerful than I expected, and all the practice I had done proved useless in this terrifying moment. I rode the wave to shore and let it wash away before I even contemplated standing up. I did this a few more times, enjoying the natural, unpredictable waterslide until one of the instructors shamed me for boogie boarding.
The afternoon lesson played out a little differently. I would catch a wave, boogie board it for a while and then stand up at the last possible second. After my third wipeout, I decided to put my measly surfing skills to rest and declared myself the on-site cheerleader, which meant screaming at people to paddle harder. Just before the lesson ended, my friend and I got out of the water for a beach-yoga moment. The salty ocean smell creates a calming effect unmatched by any other yogi location.
After our first lesson, we went back to take outdoor showers and eat oranges, a combination of activities that are actually much better performed simultaneously. The water completely washes out the stickiness factor of eating an orange. Later in the day, my cabin went back to the beach to play cards and toss a frisbee as the sun was setting. We met a few of the locals on the walk there, who were pumping out sand at low tide to extract shrimp that they would later use as fish bait. They told us more about their lifestyle as we all played with their dog.
After a few hours of frisbee and sunset frolicking, we went back to camp just to do it all again the next day. Overall, I would rate it a 10/10 surf camp experience. I reckon you’ll have a grand time if you can brave the waves.