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2019 – VA Summer Sports Clinic Surfing

VA Summer Sports Clinic: An Innovative Program for Veterans

Founded in 2008, the Summer Sports Clinic provides Veterans and their therapists an exciting opportunity to engage in recreation. Participating Veterans may be in rehabilitation from challenges such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, post traumatic stress disorder, or loss of limb. In this action-packed week long annual event, participants rotate through exciting sports such as kayaking, surfing, sailing, and cycling. The goal of the program is to give Veterans with disabilities a place for growth and challenge through recreation.

Surfs Up at La Jolla Shores!

A large group of surfers and volunteers pose for a photo on the sand with surf boards upright behind them.

The location for the surfing portion of the VA Summer Sports Clinic is at beautiful La Jolla Shores. This area is perfect due to the accessible parking, grassy park, and flat beach. We were glad to hear that AmpSurf is the organization that partners with the VA to lead the surf event. Here, Veterans and volunteers head to the water with surf boards after a briefing and motivational pep talk.

Surf instructors kneel next to a Veteran laying on an adaptive surf board on his stomach to go over surf tips.

Being in the water is about experiencing the stoke and healing power of surfing in the company of encouraging comrades and volunteers. What’s really great is that the program and instructors are experts in adaptive surfing. This means that they can help anyone learn how to surf, even if it is using a different stance or adaptive equipment. Some Veterans need to surf laying on their stomach while others use a prosthetic leg, for example.

A male surfer with brown hair kneels on the surf board in a small wave to give an instructor a high-give.

Access Trax Installs the Accessible Beach Pathway

The event, held in September, had an accessible beach pathway provided by Access Trax. We were honored to work with the VA and AmpSurf to create an accessible beach event area. Set up included a path from the boardwalk to a large tent area. From this platform, the pathway went straight towards the water and another tent area. The Beach Trax pathway allowed all participants to safely and easily get to the event areas, whether they were walking or using a wheelchair. This type of wheelchair beach access is so important for the event coordinator and participant.

In the image below, you’ll see how Beach Trax was used to provide a stable walkway over the sand for everyone. As part of the event rental, Access Trax set up and managed the pathway all week. Beach Trax barely shifted at all during the week long event, and lifeguard vehicles could drive right over it. Getting lifeguard approval is key for any event on the beach, and let’s just say they were happy!

People walk and use wheelchairs over a grey Beach Trax pathway on sand at the event.

Mark Your Calendars!

The September 20-25, 2020 VA Summer Sports Clinic will again have surfing held at La Jolla Shores in San Diego, California. If you know a Veteran who may be interested, encourage them to apply online once applications open February 10th. Spaces are limited and the event is incredible, so we encourage anyone to apply as soon as possible!

Two male Veterans are attempting to catch a wave on surfboards, one standing crouched low, and the other on his stomach.