PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- The stunning coastline and scenic beaches of the Monterey Peninsula invite water enthusiasts to the area. Surfing is a piece of the Golden State's history and culture, not just another water activity in California.
The Presidio of Monterey's Outdoor Recreation opened the door to that culture for eight Defense Language Institute students with its Introduction To Surfing class April 28 at Del Monte Beach.
Matthew Paruolo, the Adventure Programs Coordinator at Outdoor Recreation, taught the students surfing fundamentals before jumping into the water. After the short class on the beach, the students paddled out to ride their first waves.
Surfing is one of the most difficult water sports to learn because of the constantly changing terrain, but it's also the most rewarding, said Paruolo.
"You've really got to work for it. But once you're set up outside and waiting for the waves to roll in, you really get to connect with the beauty of nature and just being in the water," he said.
"It was the first time I left post since basic training, and very needed stress relief," said Pfc. Leah Kelly, 229th Military Intelligence Battalion Korean student. "It feels good to remember who you are outside of the military, and why it's important to maintain your whole-person success to be mentally, spiritually and physically healthy, so we can succeed here."
The Naval Health Research Center is studying the effects of surfing on service members' health and readiness, and whether surf therapy improves the psychological and physical symptoms of injured service members.
"It's absolutely important to get off post to escape from your classes and your duties -- to get experiences that you usually wouldn't get," said Pfc. Cam Tyler, also a 229th Korean student. "It was a good stress relief just getting out of class and in the water, and experiencing more than the Presidio."
The seemonterey.com website says "the Monterey Bay coastline is a popular destination for surfing." Rookie and advanced riders have a variety of locations they can surf year-round.
"Our surf trips are designed to provide you with a wetsuit, board, and all the tools you need to succeed while learning among peers" Paruolo said. "Since learning to read the waves takes time, we encourage our participants to stick with it, and either come out on additional tours or check out gear from the equipment center and head out with their battle buddies."
For more information, call 831 242-5506 or visit www.mwrmonterey.com.