The Dos & Don’ts of Buying Your First Surfboard

Buying your first surfboard is a HUGE deal! If you’re planning to become a longtime surfer, you’ll likely remember this board forever. But if you’ve never owned a board you might not know where to start! Here’s a few things to consider when purchasing your very first surfboard.

First, start with a foam board. We know that a foam board doesn’t SOUND cool but you’d be surprised how many people (even pros) have at least one foamie. Foam boards are the ones that we use at camp for most of our students! They’re easy to use, long enough for most adults, and fairly inexpensive. They’re great for any age and especially great learning to surf. You don’t have to worry as much about getting injured because the board is soft. The board is also very buoyant which helps in paddling and catching waves.

Check out this image of a surfer on the exact foam boards that we use and recommend:

Don’t know where to buy one for yourself? Don’t worry we know a place… 

we are coaches, surfboards

Let’s talk about size now. There are so many different sized boards so how do you know where to start? A good rule is adults should use a 8′ soft board and children under 5′ should use a 6′ board (they can use the longer one but will need help to manoeuvre the board). 

One thing to avoid when learning to surf is a short board. Short boards are thinner, shorter (obviously), and more narrow than a long board or foamie. This makes it more difficult to stand up on. Learning to surf can be frustrating enough. Make it easier for yourself by avoiding shortboards. 

Don’t worry, some day you’ll be surfing like this guy:

Lastly, long boards! There are two main categories of “long” boards:

Funboards – 7’2” to 9′
Longboards – 9′ & Up

After you’re done with learning the basics and want to move on from a foam board, you’ll likely want to start looking for a hard board that’s a similar height. This will help your transition so you can eventually surf on a shortboard (if you want). 

Some people start out on a long hard board! If you know you’ll be surfing regularly and don’t want to end up with an overused, water logged board, this might be the way to go!

Either way, if you’re serious about surfing, you’ll want to end up purchasing a board like this some day!


What is Family Fest?

Did you notice that we launched a new day camp called Family Fest Day? Peg Windisch came up with this idea using her background in parenting. We believe this is a great excuse to get out with your family and enjoy the summer sun. 

This extraordinary afternoon event is for families, friends, and neighbors who want to experience the excitement and adventure of the beach and ocean together. The best part? There is no hassle with bringing equipment. We have it all: Surf & paddle boards, snorkels & masks, body boards, sandcastle supplies, balls, Frisbees, other games, and water. After our fun together ends, your family could enjoy a sunset picnic or walk to one of our famous Del Mar restaurants or Snack Shack less than a block away.

This day camp is completely customizable to fit your families wants and needs! We run this camp Monday to Thursdays (inquire about Fridays) from 1pm to 4:30pm. 

Want more information on Family Fest or to book a day right away? Check it out here.

mary taylor photography, surf picture, kid surfing

Surf History


Wikipedia states, “The art of surfing, known as heʻe ʻana (heʻe means to surf, and ʻana is the nominilizing particle) in the Hawaiian language, was first discovered by Joseph Banks on the HMS Endeavour during the first voyage of James Cook, during the ship’s stay in Tahiti.”

The oldest type of “wave catching” is called bodysurfing. Bodysurfing is riding a wave without using any type of board to ride the wave. Usually, bodysurfers use swim fins in order to help them propel into the waves.

Hawaiians didn’t just think of surfing as a sport or something to do for fun. In fact, they brought surfing into their culture by making it into an art. They called this art heʻe nalu which means into English as “wave sliding”. They also brought surfing to North America in July 1885 when three teenage Hawaiian prices came to Santa Cruz, California for a school holiday. Surfing became nationally recognized when the Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku had exhibitions throughout Sydney, Australia.  Modern surfing centered primarily around Hawaii, Australia, and California.

Fun Facts About The History of Surfing:

  1. The world’s oldest surfboard is displayed in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is more than 230 years old and has been ridden by Hawaiian royalty.
  2. The first surfing fin was placed on the surfboard by Tom Blake in 1935.
  3. Surfboard leash was developed by Pat O’Neill in 1971.
  4. The wetsuit was invented by Jack O’Neill also in 1971.
  5. Fiberglass was used to make surfboards in the 1940’s.
  6. The first shortboard was used in 1966 in San Diego at the World Contest.

As one can tell, there is a long and detailed history behind surfing! Nowadays, surfers try many different things including different types of boards, fins, and surfing locations. We are thankful for all those whose ideas have transformed into improving and changing our surf world!



Why Keeping Our Ocean Clean Is Important & How To Get Your Kids Involved

surf camp, blog, san diego surf, mary taylor photography


When we litter or leave trash on the ground, it washes and blows into the ocean. It’s important to keep our beaches clean because if trash goes into our ocean, animals could get hurt by trying to eat the trash. Most animals cannot tell the difference between trash and food. How would you like to be boogie boarding, surfing, or swimming through trash? Yuck!


All trash is harmful to animals but some of the most dangerous forms of trash are plastic soda can rings, plastic bags, aluminum cans, and even gum. Each year over 100,000 animals are affected by plastic in the ocean. Plastic soda can rings can easily trap animals such as turtles. One way we can help get rid of this problem is by cutting the plastic hoops so that animals can no longer get stuck in them. 


You might be wondering how gum is harming animals. Since gum is sticky, it can trap animals if they walk into it. In addition, if they eat it, their bodies may not be able to digest it properly.


Plastic bags severely affect our environment on my many levels. First, if they aren’t recycled properly, they will decompose into our soil or go into our ocean. Next, even if they break down into smaller pieces in the soil, animals are still capable of eating these pieces, choking, and unfortunately, passing away. This is not fair to our environment! Here’s a somewhat terrifying fact and thought:

  • “Fish in the North Pacific ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic each year, which can cause intestinal injury and death and transfers plastic up the food chain to bigger fish and marine mammals. A recent study found that a quarter of fish at markets in California contained plastic in their guts, mostly in the form of plastic microfibers.” (

That means that we could be consuming plastic microfibers when eating fish! Not only are our animals eating plastic and trash, they are being caught, trapped, and tangled in trash throughout the ocean.


The good news is, you can help! And, you can encourage your friends, family, and children to help as well. We can help by picking up our trash and making sure that we don’t leave our food wrappers out when we are done eating. If we see trash on the ground, we should help our environment by picking it up and throwing it into a trash can. We can also help by asking others to throw away their trash. You can ask for paper bags or bring your own reusable bags when grocery shopping. You can get your children involved by teaching them everything you learned here. 


To help them get involved, ask your children these questions:

  1. What happens when we litter or leave trash on the ground? Where do you think it ends up going?

  2. Why do you think it’s important to keep our beaches clean?

  3. What types of trash do you think are the most harmful for animals?

  4. How can you help?

  5. What did you learn?

When picking up other people’s trash, remember to be careful of germs. It is recommended that you wear gloves and always thoroughly wash your hands after handling any type of trash.


We’d love to hear what your kids learned and how they think we can keep our environment clean! Their ideas may even be featured here on our blog or on our social media pages!



How Do Plastic Bags Affect Our Environment?

How Littering Kills Animals


Written and edited by: Mary Windisch from Mary Taylor Photography




beach and surf camp, del mar surf camp, san diego summer camp, del mar summer camp, san diego surf lessons, san diego beach birthday party, kids summer camp, aqua adventures, we are coaches

Q+A With Camp Counselor and Supervisor Mary Windisch

Meet Mary Windisch of Aqua Adventures!

Aqua Adventures: How did you get involved with Aqua Adventures?

Mary Windisch: I got involved with Aqua Adventures because I have been attending camp since I was four years old from there I became a counselor in training, a counselor, and finally a co-supervisor.

Aqua Adventures: What are a few of your favorite memories from camp over the years?

MW: Since I have been attending Adventures since I was little, I have many favorite memories. As a camper, I remember I was really afraid to try surfing for the first time. Once I saw that all my friends were surfing, I wanted to try too! I liked that no one ever forced me to do something I wasn’t comfortable with but instead encouraged me to try if I wanted to. I think there has to be a balance between making a child do something and also allowing them the power to make that decision by themselves. As a counselor and co-supervisor, my favorite memories revolve around seeing kids have a great time, me getting countless hugs, and being a part of children’s excitement and confidence in trying something new.

Aqua Adventures: What do you love about being a camp counselor for Aqua Adventures specifically?

MW: My favorite memory is the same thing that I love about Aqua Adventures. Since I have been a mother’s helper, babysitter, and nanny since I was 10 years old, I truly enjoy being with children as much as possible.

Aqua Adventures: What do you think is one of the most important lessons taught at these camps?

MW: At Aqua Adventures we teach many skills including water safety, communication skills, and confidence. We empower our campers to try new things, make new friends, and stay active and healthy.

Aqua Adventures: Personally, what do you love about the ocean and Del Mar beach?

MW: Del Mar beach is one of my favorite beaches because of the large grassy area, the clean and safe beach, the lifeguard station, and that it is close to the snack bar. The combination of all this makes it a perfect location for camp! In addition, Peg and Aqua Adventures have a great relationship with many people in the area including the lifeguards, Kathy and her workers at the snack bar, and other Del Mar city officials. She has had a permit at 15th street for over 16 years!

Photo by Toby Ogden

Q+A With Camp Counselor Shelby Wright

Meet Shelby Wright of Aqua Adventures!

Aqua Adventures: How did you get involved with Aqua Adventures?

Shelby Wright: I have known Peg since I was very little. My mom actually took one of her parenting classes when I was really young and her daughter Mary and I became fast friends. It was really great to be able to work with people I knew so well and loved!! It definitely made camp feel like family!

Aqua Adventures: What are a few of your favorite memories from camp over the years?

SW: A few of my favorite memories from camp have been hanging out with the kids that stay late after camp has ended. It’s always so fun because we stay in the ocean the whole time and boogie board together or go for a swim! Another one of my favorite memories is when we could see how many push-ups Zach could do with a kid on his back! Whatever we’re doing everyone is always smiling and having a great time!

Aqua Adventures: What do you love about being a camp counselor for Aqua Adventures specifically?

SW: What I love most about being a counselor for Aqua Adventures is that everyone is so positive and can’t wait to get in the water. It has been such a rewarding experience watching the kids grow and learn more and more throughout the weeks. The kids always impress me with how fast they learn to surf! When they stand up on the board they always have a giant smile on their face and it means so much to me when they thank me for helping them accomplish it!

Aqua Adventures: What do you think is one of the most important lessons taught at these camps?

SW: I think the most important lessons taught at Aqua Adventures is that there is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it! Some kids always struggle more than others to learn boogie boarding and/or surfing but learning to persevere and to not give up helps them to achieve so many things at camp. That’s when camp becomes the most rewarding experience for us as counselors and for the kids. Another very important lesson is ocean safety and awareness. We want the kids to have a blast, but we also want them to be safe so they can love the ocean just as much as we do!

Aqua Adventures: Personally, what do you love about the ocean and Del Mar beach?

SW: I love the ocean because being in the water makes me happy and content and when I’m in the ocean I look at the shore and see the world from different perspectives. It makes me realize how big the world is and how much there is to explore. I also love to float on my back and just watch the sky or the rolling waves. It’s a place of peace for me and learning to surf and do ocean activities just makes it that much more enjoyable and fun! Specifically, I love Del Mar beach because of the soft, warm sand and beautiful views with the blue ocean, bluffs, and palm trees. Also, people really make an effort to take care of our beach and that also means a lot to me.

Photo by Toby Ogden

A Brief History of Surfing

The sport of surfing is an ancient one. Known as he’enalu in the Hawaiian, the first known written account of surfing is from the sixteenth century and describes the Polynesian practice. In this culture, the chief of the community was the most skilled wave rider with the best board crafted from the best tree. To the ancient Hawaiians, surfing wan’t just a sport, it was their culture. They often prayed to the gods for protection, guidance, and the power to face the loud, thundering, mysterious ocean.

One of the earliest appearances of the sport in North America is a fascinating story. According to surf historians Kim Stoner and Geoff Dunn, on a summer day in July of 1885, three teenage Hawaiian princes left their boarding school in San Mateo to take a surfing vacation. They went to Santa Cruz, California, where they rode waves on surfboards made of redwood.

Surfing’s development as both a culture and a professional sport happened mainly in Hawaii, Australia, and California. The Beach Boys’ “Surfin USA” catalogues the major boom in surf culture that happened in the United States of America in the fifties and sixties. Nowadays, surfers like Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow and Laird Hamilton are known as the best in the game, and are always amazing people with their wave riding talent.

Photo by Toby Ogden

A History of Del Mar

Del Mar, which is Spanish for “of the sea” or “by the sea,” has a fascinating history. Back in 1885, a man named Colonel Jacob Taylor purchased 338 acres with a plan of building a seaside resort. By 1910, Del Mar had become a beloved seaside retreat for stars of Old Hollywood. Later on, during World War II, the US Navy operated a Naval Auxiliary Air Facility in the area. Del Mar is also one of the only places in the world where the Torrey Pine tree grows—the Torrey is the rarest pine in the country with only two species left in the world.

Del Mar beach, where our summer camps are hosted, has a rich history itself. It is referenced in the Beach Boys, 1963 song “Surfin USA,” in the lyric, “You’d catch ’em surfin’ at Del Mar.” Time Magazine ranked the stretch of Del Mar beach near 15th street  number four of “100 Greatest Beaches in the World.”

In the summer, our camps set up base on the grass beside the Del Mar Powerhouse. In 1928, this Powerhouse was built to be the Stratford Inn’s new means of supplying hot water for the pool, the hotel and its cottages, and the hotel’s laundry. The hotel was eventually sold, and in 1983, the Powerhouse and the surrounding park areas were purchased by the city in an effort to restore it’s former glory and preserve its history. After many years of effort and planning, the Powerhouse Community Center was founded. The 2000 Orchid Award winning design for Historic Preservation has said about the effort: “Hats off to the Restoration Committee for taking the plunge and providing the power to this restoration effort. This structure evokes the quirky and nostalgic past of this coastal community. This is a functional community space with restrooms, an outdoor theatre and beach showers where everyone can rinse off the Del Mar sand, wiggle their toes in glee, and soak in its historic glow.” We couldn’t agree more—and we love the chance to host our summer camps in this very special spot.


Why Camps Are Beneficial To Children

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Based on my experience as a camp counselor and as an individual who had the privilege of attending many camps when I was younger, I recognize the benefits camps have on children. Not only do children get the chance to interact with other kids, they learn independence and social skills in many aspects. Here at We Are Coaches, we take pride in our knowledge of working with children. Our coaches not only have experience with children and the ocean but in addition, they enjoy their job as a camp counselor. Our supervisors are certified teachers and have an immense amount of experience with different aged children. Peg Windisch, the founder of We Are Coaches states, “Our happiest moments are when we so often hear parents say that their child’s best summer experience was at our camp!” 

Among the various positive benefits, attending camps exposes children to diversity, nature, and positive encouragement. When asking Peg why she personally believes camps are a positive experience for children she responds, “The outdoor camp experience allows children to interact with their natural surroundings in a natural way. I believe healthy development occurs during these interactions.”

Camps allow children to become exposed to a diverse group of people- including age, gender, social status, ethnicity, and more. Diversity is important because it creates curiosity within individuals. Diversity gives people, especially children, an insight into how and why things work the way they do. Because We Are Coaches is a non-profit, we offer scholarships to those who cannot afford to attend camp. This helps us create a welcoming, loving, and accepting environment for all of our campers. Learning about and experiencing diversity is important for children because it teaches them tolerance and acceptance. Children will make new friends and build strong relationships.

In our Aqua-Adventures Camps, children are immersed in nature through the water, sand castle building, scavenger hunts, and other outdoor activities. Nowadays children spend much less time outside. Outdoor play is extremely important for everyone especially children. Early Childhood News wrote an article about this. Here they stated, “The outdoors has something more to offer than just physical benefits. Cognitive and social/emotional development are impacted, too. Outside, children are more likely to invent games. As they do, they’re able to express themselves and learn about the world in their own way. They feel safe and in control, which promotes autonomy, decision-making, and organizational skills.”

Bob Ditter, a licensed clinical social worker specializing in child and adolescent treatment, says, “It is in the crucible of this community that children gain self-esteem with humility, overcome their inflated sense of self, and develop a lifelong sense of grace and wonder.” We believe encouraging children is super important! Kids who are happy with themselves will treat others better. They will not only respect and value themselves but others as well. Our counselors are constantly encouraging our campers to try new things and accomplish their learning goals. High-fives, cheering, clapping, peer support, and words of encouragement are some of the way we empower our campers! Our coaches are healthy role models for children of all ages.

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“Earlychildhood NEWS – Article Reading Center.” Earlychildhood NEWS – Article Reading Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2015. (

“Benefits of Camp: Psychological Aspects.” Benefits of Camp: Psychological Aspects. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2015. (



The Wedge Gets Big!

A recent storm near New Zealand triggered a high-surf advisory Monday as a formidable band of waves arrived on Southern California’s coast, the National Weather Service said.

aaaaaaBefore reaching the state, the storm churned up powerful swells and potent riptides since Thursday, pulling swimmers into — and under — the water from Chile to Mexico.

“Once those waves are created, they keep traveling until they reach land,” said David Sweet, a weather service meteorologist. “So we can thank our friends Down Under.”

The biggest surf was expected Monday and Tuesday, with waves as high as 15 feet at the Wedge in Newport Beach and sets as high as 6 feet at Zuma Beach.

“It’s pretty booming,” said Los Angeles County Lifeguard Capt. Kirk Thomas, adding that at its peak on Monday, Topanga Beach had about 90 surfers.

Warm weather and unseasonably warm water brought more than 600,000 people to the shore from San Pedro to Zuma Beach this weekend, and county lifeguards rescued 64 people, said Capt. Kenichi Haskett.

On Monday, Los Angeles lifeguards performed five rescues.

The sight of large waves — which can sweep spectators off jetties — probably kept the number of rescues down, with crashing breakers making the risks of swimming very apparent, officials said.

“There were not too many takers to the water,” Thomas said. “That was our best lifeguard: just the pure size and force of the surf.”

Farther south in Newport Beach, the Wedge traditionally generates some of the biggest surf in the region because of its south-facing beach, underwater topography and the nearby jetty that bounces waves back onto themselves.

The waves there grow rapidly and crash close to shore, and they have been known to injure surfers, sometimes fatally.

Newport Beach lifeguards — who patrol a fraction of the beaches of Orange County — rescued 20 people since Saturday, marine operations Assistant Chief Rob Williams told City News Service.

The powerful swells are expected to subside by sundown Tuesday, ahead of a small storm that is forecast to bring light rain later this week in Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Sweet, the meteorologist, advised beachgoers to remain cautious. “Never turn your back to the ocean,” he said.

“You don’t want any waves sneaking up on you.”

Photograph Copyright Mary Taylor Photography 2015.

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