Walking on sunshine

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 July, 2009, 12:00am

Surf's up this summer in Lantau. On July 7, four enthusiastic Young Post student reporters headed to Treasure Island's Surf Camp at Pui O Beach in Mui Wo to find out what all the fuss is about.

More than just a book written by Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island is an extraordinary activity camp where young people can gain very un-Hong Kong experiences and make new friends.

One of few surf camps in Hong Kong, Treasure Island offers youngsters a rare opportunity to ride the waves. The instructors are a diverse group of young adults from countries as far-flung as New Zealand, France the United States, and who are crazy about sharing their knowledge and experience of outdoor activities.

Meghan Roberts, 23, is the surf camp's programme coordinator. She says the instructors are 'an enthusiastic bunch' who all hope to help spread a surfing culture in Hong Kong by getting people started at a young age.

As the chief instructor Hunt Smith, 33, explains: 'Once you ride a wave, you fall in love [with surfing].' Mr Smith is from California, and has more than 20 years' surfing experience. He says the other young instructors make great teachers because, not only are they capable and qualified, they bring a high level of enthusiasm to their jobs which rubs off on their students.

As well as surfing lessons, Treasure Island offers activities ranging from teamwork sessions, mountain biking and kayaking, to gardening and art and crafts.

More than 60 children aged from five to 13 were taking part in a five-day camp when we visited. Clare Armstrong, 10, says, 'I love it here. The instructors are nice and friendly, and I've just had so much fun!'

The instructors' support is crucial to campers' enjoyment and success. Richard Ojanga, 13, says the instructors' infectious passion, combined with the thrill of the waves, prevented him from giving up, even when he found the lessons hard work. He finally achieved his ultimate goal of standing on his surfboard and riding a wave.

Edgar Yau, 10, compared surfing to his favourite activity of skateboarding, saying it was possibly even more exciting because 'the ramps are living'.

Even though Treasure Island was set up to get kids outside and active, the pre-teens weren't the only ones having fun.

Surf instructor James Scarlett, 23, says, 'When I see a kid who's been struggling for a long time and he finally stands up, I get a real good buzz out of that.' He adds that his real passion is surfing, so he sometimes finds working with children challenging, but also something he relishes every day.

'There's so much more to Hong Kong than just the city,' says operations manager David Goldsworthy, 39. Mr Goldsworthy, who is in charge of training the surf instructors in New Zealand, has only been in Hong Kong for a month, but he believes the city has huge potential for outdoor activities.

With Hong Kong so often described as a shopper's paradise, and with our love for air-conditioned pastimes, it's easy to forget the territory has plenty of beaches and areas where all sorts of outdoor activities are possible.

So this summer, instead of sitting on your sofa playing computer games or spending time at yet another mall, head to the beach, make new friends, learn something new and make the most of the outdoors.

Visit www.treasureislandhk.com for more details on surf camps.