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FAQ  Surf Camps

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.

What if I want to pay with a check, cash, zelle or venmo?

We would much prefer payment through Mindbody, because that is how we keep the back of the house in order. If you prefer to pay another way, we make concessions.


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 or in store from most surf shops. Surf Academy uses an enzyme wash called Pau Pilau, which you can get from Amazon or directly from the company.

What makes Surf Academy unique?

Our ability to individualize our teaching methods sets us apart from the rest. We observed that children behave more comfortably and retain learning better when grouped according to preferred gender identity. Mary Setterholm, our founder, began the program after an unsupervised young girl with minimal swim skills drowned many summers ago. It was 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. Surf Academy also hosts the local surf teams for Santa Monica and Westside community schools--Mar Vista middle schools, Lincoln, John Adams, and Samohi. Surfers who start with us during the summer can continue their journey into the Fall if they are in grades 6 or higher (exceptions have been made for extremely ocean competent 5th graders).

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. 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 and first aid certified instructor present. We stage our own emergency response plans under the watchful eyes of the LA County Lifeguards. 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 9-14): 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 also provide canopies for shade and a ton of beach game equipment for fun-filled land activities. 

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. 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. 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 behind 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!

How do we sign up?

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

What is your refund policy?

Sessions are non-refundable, but are transferable from one type of appointment to another, or to another person.  Surf lessons require 24-hour cancellation. Surf Practices and camps require at least 8 hours for an "early cancel" and the session can be made up at a later date.

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