FAQ  Surf Camps

We've updated our FAQs to reflect current COVID-Safe practices, please look for bolded text to see some of the many changes being made to keep our students and instructors safe and healthy.
Mindbody is confusing... how do I sign up?

Make sure you got there through the links on our website, and not the Mindbody app, even though it automatically prompts you to download the app. It's a trap! Only the website links work. Then make sure that each kid being signed up has their own unique Mindbody account, with a unique email address. Enter the credit card info into the account of at least one child in the family, and make sure to click "enroll" to actually register for a specific program week. By following these instructions, you'll avoid ALL of the most common mistakes! If you still have questions, feel free to contact us.

How can I be sure that COVID-safe practices are actually being followed?

We will take care to set up camp in ways that enable people to be safe by keeping distance. We will be using our game cones to mark how we want students to distribute (12 feet apart on land) when we’re giving safety talks, and during any work outs we give. 6 feet of distance is already customary for surfers, but we will be encouraging 8 feet and not allowing students to share waves. For now, we will not be having tents, and will try to have as few personal belongings on shore as possible. Instructors will wear masks during transport/pickup/dropoff, and stand facing the wind when giving instructions. We will be monitoring instructor temperatures and symptoms daily, and asking all parents to do the same with participating students. We will have signs placed around the beach reminding everyone of proper safety behavior.


What are we doing about shared surfaces?

Unlike past summers, we will not be lending out equipment, including boards, wetsuits, rash guards or anything else. For those who are surfing all summer but don’t have something they need, long term arrangements can be made, but Surf Academy will not be storing and lending daily. It is not recommended for students to use the beach showers and bathrooms at this time.

Will there be hand sanitizer available?



Are there any other major changes to programming due to COVID?

Yes. We are shortening surf sessions, following these recommendations, to a maximum of 2 hours. We are also keeping groups much smaller than usual, while maintaining the same instructor to student ratio.


What if I want to pay with a check?

We would much prefer payment through mindbody, since it’s safer for COVID (following these recommendations) and also our typical preference. However if that is the only way you can pay, we will make a concession.


You said I should clean out my wetsuit, how do I do that?

Don't use shampoo or soap, and NEVER put your wetsuit in the washing machine or dryer. The best way is to use wetsuit cleaner, which you can order online at Body Glove, or buy from Dive n Surf. Surf Academy uses an enzyme wash called Pau Pilau, which you can get off Amazon or directly from the company.

What makes Surf Academy unique?

The Surf Academy Wahine (girls only) and Kanaka (boys only) Surf sports programs are the first gender-specific surf camps in the United States. We observed that children learn better when grouped according to gender. Our Santa Monica and Huntington Beach camps follow this practice. Mary Setterholm, our founder, began the program after an unsupervised young girl with minimal swim skills drowned many summers ago. It as obvious that not enough instruction was being offered to children below the Junior Lifeguard level. A need was seen and filled by Surf Academy providing all swim levels with safe ocean fun.

Does my child need to be a good swimmer?

Not to be a part of Surf Academy’s safe and fun program. On the first day of camp your child’s swimming capabilities will be observed in a very un-intimidating way. **Some of our old methods for testing water literacy are no longer possible due to COVID-19. To minimize instructor/student contact, we are now requiring that students know how to swim and tread water, and be comfortable in the ocean. If you are unsure of your child’s competency, a private lesson or two might be needed to assess their level of comfort. Our goal is to help children make progress on their ocean skills, gain confidence and insure their safety at all times. Some children, because of their understandable apprehension of the ocean, will only be allowed to venture into the water waist high. There are plenty of fun waves to surf on the “inside”. They will come home with stories of catching huge monster waves all the same! ​

Are Surf Academy instructors qualified?

We always have a CPR certified instructor present. We stage our own emergency response plans under the watchful eyes of the LA County Lifeguards. We feel that well trained instructors provide the safest environment for your children. The Surf Academy teaching techniques, which minimize risk and maximize learning, are instilled in every one of our instructors. Our instructors come from backgrounds including lifeguards, junior lifeguards, pro-surfers, personal trainers, school teachers and parents. All share a love of teaching and working with children.

Is Surf Academy safe?

A surf camp is as safe as the sound judgment of the staff managing the camp! Surf Academy’s competent staff will teach children how to spot an unsafe situation and respond correctly by not panicking. We teach campers about rip tides, wave types, jelly fish (and other creatures), water pollution, skincare, hypothermia, ocean currents, localism and equipment care. We supervise children to the restroom and across the bike path. Each camp has a designated cell phone for emergencies. We have each child’s emergency contact information and medical history on site at all times. Surf Academy considers safety the greatest priority.

What are the dangers of surfing?

All sorts of things! Wipeouts, ego bruising, salty eyes, sandy noses and ears, sting ray stings (especially when the water is warm and the waves are mellow), getting hit by surfboards, getting tripped up by leashes…Surfing is considered an extreme sport and we are in the ocean, which means we are level with all the creatures living in the sea. The thing about these perceived dangers are that they are also what makes surfing so delightfully different from all other past-times!

How are the children protected from those dangers?

Surf Academy coaching staff teaches students how to handle themselves and their surfboards in the ocean. We go over safety protocols (how to point the board in relationship to a wave, how to wipe out safely, how to exit a wave, how to hang on to equipment, etc) before each surf session. Kids don’t remember everything they are told the first time, and we are like broken records when it comes to safety of self and others in the water.

What is the instructor to student ratio?

Surf Camps (ages 9-17): Depending on the surf conditions, our ocean activities have a student to instructor ratio of 5 to 1; beach games have a 10 to 1 ratio. When teaching a skill we rotate instructors to give a better ratio to ensure each child gets the attention they need to learn.

Beach Kids (ages 5-8): Depending on the surf conditions, our ocean activities have a student to instructor ratio of 4 to 1; beach games have a 8 to 1 ratio. 

What does Surf Academy provide?

Friendly, enthusiastic instructors and safe fun! We provide all the equipment required: soft surfboards, rash guards, and wetsuits. Your child may bring their own equipment provided fiberglass boards have rubber tipped fins and nose guard. Our instructors will determine if they are capable of controlling their equipment in a safe manner. **We are no longer able to provide equipment at Surf Camp, due to the current risks of shared surfaces.  For those who are surfing all summer but don’t have something they need, long term arrangements can be made, but Surf Academy will not be storing and lending daily. We also provide canopies for shade and a ton of beach game equipment for fun-filled land activities. **At least for now, we will not be setting up tents or running games, in order to minimize students congregating and making contact. The sessions will be shorter than in past summers, so students will safely be able to remain in the sun for the entire session.

What does my child bring to Surf Academy?

A well rested body that has had a good breakfast or lunch. Sunscreen and lip balm; children should come to camp with sunscreen and lip balm already applied. We ensure that they re-apply as necessary. **Due to COVID-19, we are no longer able to assist in applying sunscreen, in order to minimize contact with students. It is recommended that children come with sunscreen already applied and given time to soak in.  A bathing suit or trunks, long sleeve T-shirt, hat and sandals are needed as protection from the sun and sand. All day campers should bring a morning snack and beverage along with a packed lunch. Half day campers need only a snack and beverage. **Due to COVID-19, absolutely no sharing between campers will be allowed. No lunch will be necessary for any campers, since none of the sessions are currently longer than 2 hours. All campers should bring their supplies in a backpack that closes tightly, as the seagulls are very skilled at opening packs to steal food!

Am I allowed to stay and watch?

Yes, but like ninjas! We do ask that parents stay on shore and remain a safe distance from the children. We have learned over the years that children behave differently when their parents aren’t around. We don’t want any of the groms to get confused about who is “in charge” at camp–the parents or the coaches? We don’t want you to miss your child’s first wave triumphs and epic wipeouts; we do however, ask that you back up the instructors by deferring to their good judgment in the water. When you come to the beach, please set up BACK from the line of trashcans that run from lifeguard tower to lifeguard tower (or in line with our set-up). This way, we have lots of space and the kids don’t feel like they are on stage. Surfing can be pretty tough on the mind sometimes, and we want as much space for growth as possible! **Since beaches are still only open for those exercising, parents are encouraged to exercise or even take a private lesson themselves if they wish to be on the beach while their child is participating in Surf Camp.

How do we sign up?

Sign up here on our site through our MindBody scheduler. Confirmation will be emailed. 

What is your refund policy?