In In the Water with Maui Surfer Girls (part one), we went surfing with Dustin, founder of Maui Surfer Girls. Last time, we highlighted the lessons learned in the water and her unparalleled instruction style. Dustin was full of so many words of wisdom, we followed up with her to see what other advice she had for Gnarly Girls everywhere.
GET TO KNOW DUSTIN
GNARLY GIRLS: How long have you been surfing? What inspired you to try it?
DUSTIN: OK, to date myself – I've surfed for about thirty five years! My dad officially taught me when I was eight, but my mom takes credit because she took me to Launiupoko beach with a white foam board when I was maybe six or seven. I didn't actually catch a wave in the calm fishing pond area where she took me... Haha.
GNARLY GIRLS: What started Maui Surfer Girls? How did it come to life?
DUSTIN: Maui Surfer Girls came to life after many amazing a-ha moments at Prescott College, during field courses in my Adventure Education major. I realized after a whitewater kayaking course in Colorado that I wanted to facilitate empowering, outdoor experiences on the ocean. Surfing was my number one love. My final thesis in my Wilderness Therapy course was creating a rite of passage for teen girls through Maui adventures, surfing in particular. After contributing my life savings to reserve Camp Olowalu, a camp facility on Maui where I went to summer camp as a kid, my Maui Surfer Girls dream was born. Then, all I needed was campers to attend. And, thank god, seventeen girls attended nine months later... Just like a baby arriving!
GNARLY GIRLS: What do you think makes Maui Surfer Girls successful, or differentiates it from other surf lessons?
DUSTIN: Our students appreciate our "girl power" mission, but also our personalized surf coaching in a pristine area away from the crowds of Lahaina. We share the aloha and surf stoke with our students, giving them a thorough land lesson and lots of water time to really learn how to surf. We're not one of those merry-go-round schools that spend five minutes on the beach showing the pop-up and minimal instruction in the waves. Our surf instructors share their knowledge and passion for the sport of surfing with each student. Maui Surfer Girls is a family, and we treat our students like family too!
GNARLY GIRLS: Hah, that sounds familiar… What do you hope people take away after participating in Maui Surfer Girls?
DUSTIN: I think it's special that in a two hour surf lesson, we can create memories for life, and even a lifelong sport to progress with anywhere in the world. The surf camp has an even more potent impact, as I've witnessed our teen girls really gain self-confidence and long lasting friendships during the camp, which extends into their lives back home.
GNARLY GIRLS: What is the best lesson you’ve learned so far, or what advice would you tell to someone who wants to try surfing for the first time?
DUSTIN: The beauty of surfing is that it's a perfect metaphor for life lessons. After thirty five years of surfing, I'm still humbled by the sport. It has taught me so much about patience and resiliency through the years. Surfing teaches you to never give up, no matter how pummeled you get by the waves – or life. You always get back on your board and paddle back out because you never know when you may catch the best wave of your life!
"SURFING TEACHES YOU TO NEVER GIVE UP, NO MATTER HOW PUMMELED YOU GET BY THE WAVES – OR LIFE."
GNARLY GIRLS: What’s your best advice for overcoming fear?
DUSTIN: Oh good one…I love helping people face their fears on a surfboard. I always say, lean into your fear, not away from it. Challenge your fears by doing what scares you a little bit at a time, until you eventually desensitize to it. Before you know it, you'll be fearlessly surfing waves and forget about what scared you in the first place.
GNARLY GIRLS: That’s amazing. Any last pieces of advice?
DUSTIN: Make time to disconnect from technology and connect with yourself in nature. Whether that be on a surfboard or a bike or a hike in the woods, find your happy place. Surfing has always been the reset button on my soul. I've enjoyed sharing that passion with my students for seventeen years now. I'm blessed beyond words!