At Misión Mexico we rely on volunteers to bring love, life and hope to the children that live at the refuge in Tapachula. Every year volunteers from all over the world head to Mexico to surf with them. One of these spray-chasers is Scott Kennaugh from Australia, who started surfing with the children in 2012 and has volunteered with Misión Mexico twice. To celebrate International Volunteer Day we asked him to tell us why he does it.
Why do I love Mision Mexico?
The first time I volunteered at Misión Mexico I was totally unsure of what to expect and really nervous about how an Aussie that could not speak a word of Spanish would be treated by all the kids. Those fears were immediately thrown out the window as I was welcomed with huge smiles and a thousand questions in little Aussie accents!
I came to Mexico to experience Misión Surf first hand and nothing could have quite prepared me for it! My first Sunday at the refuge I watched in amazement as four vans were loaded up with shortboards, longboards, foamies, bodyboards, life-saving equipment and then crammed full with 50 kids + volunteers.
I will never forget that first day at the beach, playing in the shallow water with the younger kids, pushing kids onto waves and chilling out the back sharing waves with the older kids. The smiles on the faces of the youngest to the oldest was infectious. It is so refreshing to escape the angry crowds of our culture and be caught up with the pure joy the kids experience simply from being outside and at the beach.
Sunday surf days
From that day on, I spent my weeks looking forward to Sundays: family beach day! I would make deals with the kids, giving them the chance to use my ‘cool’ surfboard or come with me surfing first if they behaved well.
When I tell people about my time at Misión Mexico people often ask me what my favourite surfing memory is. I have a tough time picking as there as so many different experiences I will never forget! I loved being able to go out surfing with the older kids just like I would with my best mates at home and hoot and holler when someone got a rad wave and laugh when they got smashed. I loved the enthusiasm with which the older girls muscle their way into the lineup and how their spirit has caught on and the younger girls are just as excited to go surfing.
I loved teaching the young boys that the ocean was to be respected but not feared. We definitely had some laughs as I threw them around in the shore break and then took them further and further out the back and pushed them into waves.
Every time I paddle out for a surf now I think back to my time at Misión Mexico and remind myself how lucky I am to do what I do and to be grateful for every surf and every chance I get to share that experience with someone.