Article

Recycling the Stoke

ReSurf repairs old surfboards for at-risk youth, then teaches them to surf

| posted on March 12, 2014
Hadassah Neurim Youth Village teens in Israel are the proud owners of recycled boards, all thanks to ReSurf.

Hadassah Neurim Youth Village teens in Israel are the proud owners of recycled boards, all thanks to ReSurf.

It started with a stack of surfboards, dusty, dinged up, and retired, salvaged from the darkest depths of Oran Bendelstein’s garage. Inspired by the crooked smiles of Billy Wilmot’s underprivileged surf campers in A Brokedown Melody, Bendelstein collected more than a dozen of his old garage boards and donated them to the cause in Jamaica.

“If I had that many boards as just one surfer,” Bendelstein thought, “Imagine how many other old boards are out there?”

It’s from that question that ReSurf, a mentoring program that brings surfing to underprivileged children and teens around the world, was born. They connect with existing youth institutions, local schools, and community centers and provide them with boards and surf instruction programs.

It begins with the boards. Bendelstein and his partners, Steve Weinrib and Michael Urra, collect donated boards and fix them up. They provide supplies and bring in ding repairs specialists who gladly donate their time to patch holes and fill cracks, making the boards safe and surfable for the kids.

Up next, the street artists. For ReSurf’s first program in 2013, they had street artists deck out each individual board, in turn creating personal works of art for each kid. Now, the artists come in to teach the kids how to paint their own designs. “The kids have this pride, a feeling of connection to this board that they would never get from a surf shop board,” said Bendelstein. “It makes these old boards become totally new.”

Once the boards get decked out in paint and dry, the four-week surf instruction program begins. They offer the participants standard surf instruction, but also teach them how to read and respect the water and repair boards. They lead field trips to different places around the communities, encouraging the kids to continue to pay it forward.

“We’ll do a couple of classes on ding repair, then maybe fix boards for the next project that’s coming. We’ll let the kids know that these boards are going to kids in other programs and have them do a collection, to help them pay it forward,” said Bendelstein. “Paying it forward, that’s what it’s all about for us.”

They hope that the surf programs continue after ReSurf’s initial involvement ends. “We give them the tools,” said Bendelstein. “We sit with them and work with them, and then watch as they take it over.”

ReSurf’s first program was in April 2013 at the Hadassah Neurim Youth Village, right on the water in Israel. They’ve since set up programs in New York with Long Beach High School and the Rockaways, and have a program in the works for this December with the Jamaican Surfing Association and Billy Wilmot, the very guy from A Brokedown Melody who inspired the stoke. But still, the goal is greater. “We want to get a truck and travel around the East Coast, stopping at underprivileged spots in different areas and setting up programs in each of these communities,” said Bendelstein. “Within our means, we want to do the most that we can.”

New York street artists spray, paint, and sketch masterpieces for the kids in ReSurf’s first camp in Israel.

New York street artists spray, paint, and sketch masterpieces for the kids in ReSurf’s first camp in Israel.

Halfway around the world, at-risk teens from the Hadassah Neurim Youth Village in Israel circle up after a surf lesson.

Halfway around the world, at-risk teens from the Hadassah Neurim Youth Village in Israel circle up after a surf lesson.

Old boards find new life thanks to ReSurf’s founders, Oran Bendelstein, Steve Weinrib, and Michael Urra.

Old boards find new life thanks to ReSurf’s founders, Oran Bendelstein, Steve Weinrib, and Michael Urra.

ReSurf is entirely volunteer and donation supported.
If you’d like to help or donate an old board, head over to Resurfproject.com.

  • Aloha spirit

    This might be one of the most amazing things I’ve read in years! I’ve seen people offer their time teaching kids to surf. I’ve seen a few shops donate a board here and there but what these three selfless men are bringing to a sport that started on this very premise is unprecedented! I thank everyone involved but most of all I thank the founders! It’s people like you that bring back the aloha spirit to the religion of and for the GODS!

    • jock

      I think full credit can go to these guys, cause there’s no such thing as aloha spirit & gods, just a load of imaginary hocus pocus, innit mate.

      • Ian Salisbury

        I don’t believe in any gods mate but literally nothing comes out of being disrespectful. And this is what embodies the aloha spirit- saying that doesn’t takeaway from these guys at all.

  • whamo

    Good karma, guys. I’d like to donate a few boards. Is there some place in So Cal where I can drop them off?

  • God

    Im tired of being left in limbo here, who is the huckster thatis running state geopolitcs in surf media? The relationship from literary to visual form needs to translate in an addendum
    onscreen, like that.