Hey! I’m still alive…

still trying not to look behind me, and still staying at a surf camp, nestled on a cliffside in Bali. I will say, regardless of whether or not you enjoy surfing, I 10/10 recommend staying at a surf camp. Did you know you can stay at a surf camp, and never even touch a surfboard? Instead, you can take advantage of the cool vibes, healthy lifestyle, and the incredible company that comes with staying at a hub for adventurers. At Rapture, there are currently a few Brits, Germans, Frenchies, and Aussies of all ages and all skill levels. And every night, we sit around the dinner table, swap stories and jokes, and share a few Bintangs (the Indonesian Heineken of sorts). And did I mention the daily yoga? Basically, while I’m still not sold on surfing, I am completely sold on the surf camp mentality.*

Enter day two of surf camp

This was a game-changer of a day, with a rollercoaster of emotions. First of all, let me shed some basic, beginner knowledge on y’all. July in Bali means BIG WAVES. Like, really big waves. I didn’t know that when I signed up for this shindig. Anywho, the surf instructors at Rapture know all the local spots, and scout out the best beginner waves for us newbies every morning. On this particular morning it was decided we were going to Thomas Beach, which coincidentally, is considered by some to be one of Bali’s most beautiful beaches. On the contrary, all I’d heard from some other campers about Thomas beach was “STAIRS! SO MUCH PADDLING” and “CURRENT CURRENT CURRENT!”

Remember when I said I was trying to channel the excitement of this whole adventure, instead of the fear? Well, it’s safe to say my stomach was in complete knots, on the bumpy road to the beach. I was SO SCARED! I like paddling (I’m one of the few), but strong currents are nobody’s best friend, especially that of a beginner surfer.

So we arrive at the top of Thomas Beach. And with our boards, bags and emotions, descend the maze of stairs leading down to the white sand. Upon arrival, all I saw were HUGE waves at the back, some nice, friendly, small waves at the front, and a lot of current. Our instructors carefully monitored the wave action, as they told us to wait a few minutes before getting suited up. I took this to mean all sorts of bad things, when in reality I’m sure everything was fine. So after a ten-minute pause, we threw on our gear (surf leggings for warm weather are a thing. Did anyone else know this? All about that sun protection!). Our boss for the day, Bobby, explained the currents, channel and wave patterns to us, with the help of a sand diagram, and off we went!

As soon as I was on my board, I felt the current. In the beginning, it was pulling me the way I wanted to go, so it was more of a help than a nuisance. But as I reached the waves, and tried to wait in place, for my turn with the instructor, I unintentionally started floating towards the big waves, boats, and all kinds of other things I’d rather avoid.

*Deep breaths, Hughes, deep breaths. Just avoid the giant waves at the back, and breathe.*

My time to join the lineup came, and I paddled over to my instructor, got into position and geared up for my first wave. You know what?


Ok, crushed it in the sense of a wee beginner surfer awkwardly popping up on a board, looking a bit like a newborn giraffe, but still maintaining two feet on the board allllll the way into the shore. SUCCESS Y’ALL!

I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a game-changer having a great first wave is, on a “scary” beach. So I grabbed my board, and immediately paddled and paddled and paddled back out, carefully staying out of the lane of the giant waves, and waited my turn to head back to the lineup (intermittently paddling aggressively to combat the current and stay in place…). The next hour was spent taking some great waves, messing up a bit, paddling a LOT, and, towards the very end, beginning to look at the waves behind me. Not as scary as the day before. Funny how that works…

(peep the wee surfer actually making progress!)

As we got out of the water and had lunch (Gado Gado, my new favorite Indonesian dish), everyone swapped stories about their time in the water. I was riding a high of happiness, and was surprised when the group was a mixed bag of emotions about the day. Some people hated it. Too much current. Others felt lukewarm. A few, like me, raved about their success in the water. This was the first time I realized another big life lesson, handed to me on a surfboard. We all know you’re not supposed to compare yourself to other people. I try as much as I can, not to. But I still do. We all do. But on Thomas beach, every success was incredibly individual. I had an awesome, successful day. The best surfer in our group had a scheisse day (great German word). But what is consistent, is that everyone’s individual success, is a success for the group. The people who were having bad days still turned around on their board and loudly whooped and hollered for the newborn giraffes taking waves into the shore.

And if it took two days of surfing (or trying to…) to bring this life lesson back to the front of my brain, I’m ok with it. In the New York acting scene, it’s almost impossible to remember this at times. In the blogging world, it’s the same. It applies to every industry. But I’m here to remind you that if you’re really trying, and paddling as hard as you possibly can, you’re succeeding. Because, at the very least, your good waves will come tomorrow, and the practice you’ve put in today will make sure you baby giraffe that surfboard alllllll the way into the shore.

*I’d also like to take this opportunity to let y’all know most surf camps aren’t expensive, especially if you stay in a shared room. Check out the pics on Google, peep the posts on insta, and you can easily stay at a great place for less than $500/week including absolutely everything. The more you know!