There is nothing more inspiring to me than young people taking the initiative to serve others and our planet. Growing kids with this kind of caring consciousness is, in my view, our best shot at a better world for future generations. So, whenever I can give a little boost to children or teens starting their own social action work, count me in.
Last weekend at Carlsbad State Beach, I met a young woman named Skye Rainey. A 17-year-old junior at Carlsbad High School, Skye is the founder of the school’s first Surfrider Foundation chapter. Soft-spoken, but with a determination in her eyes, Skye explained to me that she started the chapter after her parents came across a Surfrider Foundation beach cleanup in Oceanside, and they had the idea to get local students involved in Surfrider’s efforts to help save our local shores.
Skye got in contact with Surfrider Foundation, brought the chapter idea to the school board in November, and found a sponsor in her parents’ company, Boardworks Surf. After much waiting for school board approval, Skye explained, she got it, and launched the club in March with the first monthly beach cleanup. Plans are to continue regular beach cleanups year-round, one Saturday afternoon a month.
So, what’s the problem, you ask? Well, Carlsbad High has 3,000 students, a top-ranked surf team, and is a mile from the ocean. And the school’s Surfrider Foundation chapter? It has 10 members.
Bless them, the four members present last Saturday were peddling the beach with their bright orange buckets, picking up stray plastic bottles and food wrappers, but I must admit, I felt a palpable need for encouragement for them, for more people and more energy to help and grow their noble effort.
“It’s kind of sad when you come to the beach and see litter everywhere,” said blond-haired junior Turi Fiske, looking around at the smattering of people on the sand, none of whom were toting orange buckets. “We all need to do something to help the environment.”
Her friend and classmate Kiana Endres piped in, “Everyone at school says they are really excited about us doing this for the beach, but then they don’t come.”
So far, the club makes announcements on the school’s closed-circuit TV station, but clearly these well-intentioned teens need some more momentum.
My advice to them to help get more students involved? Nab that surf team! Put up posters. Dangle the carrot of a fun way to earn those community service hours needed for graduation. Visit other club meetings and sports team practices.
And, Skye says, their effort isn’t just to get students involved, but the whole community. So, young activists, when you are at the beach for your cleanups, play some music, get an enthusiastic, goofy caller out there to lure in beachgoers. Put signs in the parking lot above the beach, and in places around the community. Email the principals of local middle and elementary schools. Contact the local colleges’ surf teams and environmental clubs, the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, and invite their members, too.
Let this column be my own contribution to getting the word out to broader Carlsbad. Here is my plea, for these teens, for the beach, and for the greater good: Please, come out to Carlsbad State Beach (Robert C. Frazee Beach at Pine Avenue) one Saturday a month, bring your kids or your friends or yourself, and spend an hour picking up the junk littering the sand.
Skye’s mother, Gretchen Gamble, also worries about the small group of teens getting disheartened if their cleanups don’t draw more participation. “High school tends to be a time of apathy,” she said. “But I know there are a lot of students—and people in the community—who care.” She will be making larger banners for the club to hang on the Boardworks tent that they set up on the sand for each cleanup. Dates and times for the monthly cleanups are posted on Boardworks’ website and on its and the club’s Facebook pages.
“Not only is starting this Surfrider club good for Skye individually, because she is doing something positive for the ocean, which she loves,” Gamble said. “But the students are also are providing an opportunity for other people to do something, to promote awareness in the whole community about the state of our beaches.”
So, how about you, readers? Do you care about keeping our beaches and ocean clean? Would you like to show the students in our community that they can make a difference, and that our community wants to work with them to help the planet? Want to be a shining example for your own kids or employees? Then come on down with your sunblock and reusable water bottle, grab an orange bucket and join in—just one hour a month—to clean up Carlsbad State Beach.
And now, Skye, I have utmost faith that you can take it from here.