Last Tuesday night, our Men of Maroon and Gray were given the opportunity to impact the local community in a positive way when the CIT’s and their counselors volunteered as surf coaches for the Special Surfer Night in Kennebunk.

See the article published by the Portland Press Herald on the Event: Waves of Joy

Special Surfer Night is an event sponsored by Aquaholics surf shop and the Maine Autism Society, giving children with Autism, Asperger’s and Down syndrome the chance to get in the water and “hang ten.” Boards, wetsuits, & parking at the beach are provided free of charge and the surf coaches are all volunteers from within the community.

“Luckily, the July Special Surfer Night coincided with the first night of the CIT changeover trip and our guys were able to volunteer for the event,” said Pete Hansen, Manitou’s Adventure guru who organized the surf trip. “I am proud of the CIT’s. They did a great job and looked like they were having fun with the kids.”

Over 90 special surfers turned up at the beach excited to get in the water. For two hours, our guys worked in teams of 2, paired up with one child, coaching and “catching” surfers in the waves. Nanci Boutet, owner of Aquaholics and organizer of the event was thankful for Manitou’s participation “If you guys hadn’t come out to volunteer, we may have had to turn some surfers away. It was so cool to have your CIT’s helping out.”

After surfing themselves for the afternoon, the CIT’s were happy to be of service. “The little boy I was helping was non-verbal but when he was in the water he was stoked. I was stoked for him! Every time he stood up on a wave I was running through the water, excited, waving my hands in the air!” said Jesse Aaronson. “It was just awesome.”

Eian Peters was also grateful for the experience. “It was one of those opportunities to make a difference in a kid’s life just by spending an hour or so with him, cheering him on.”

“I got just as much out of it as I hope they got from me,” said Keith Rothschild of his experience as a volunteer.

The weather held out just long enough for a two hour session in the waves. As the evening came to an end, the smiles on the surfers’ faces pretty much said it all. “Charlie has been waiting since last summer to do this again,” said one of the special surfer’s moms on the beach as her eyes welled with tears. “He just loves this! Thank you so much for being here!”

Mike Karp, Unit Leader for the CIT and High Senior campers, called it an “amazing, incredible experience for our campers. It’s this kind of activity that encourages them to be positive role models for the younger campers. I hope we can do this every summer with the CIT’s.”

All of the volunteers will receive a letter from Aquaholics recognizing their volunteer efforts.

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