There’s not much I can say new about Surfers Healing.
For those who don’t know, Surfers Healing is a traveling camp that provides children with Autism and other developmental disabilities the opportunity to go surfing under the caring and professional guidance of surfers. Carson, our younger son at 8, fits into the category of eligible participants.
Surfers Healing is an amazing day-long display of compassion and understanding. The care exhibited by the volunteer surfers and organizers who make it happen is nothing short of inspiring. These folks who run this event are angels on earth in my opinion. It’s a day my family circles on the calendar every year because it’s unlike any other we have ever experienced. It’s the most special day of our year.
This was our third year attending Surfers Healing, but there were a couple things different about it this year for us.
First, we had a group of special friends and family attend this year with us. They’ve heard us talk about this event, but they got to experience it this year first hand. I recommend to anyone and everyone to take in this event at least once. It’s impossible to attend this event and leave without feeling blessed, fortunate and appreciative.
Another aspect that was unique this year was Beckett being on hand to support and watch his brother. In years past, he has not attended. It’s not that he didn’t want to come and support his brother. He did, but he has preferred to spend the entire day at camp with his friends rather than watching his little brother for 15 minutes and spend the rest of the day on the beach with us. We previously told him there’s much more to it than just your brother, but we simply didn’t want the fight in the past. We knew he would be jealous that his brother got to surf so we just let it go.
This year we insisted he join us because he was 10 years old and needed to experience it. While he may say he was sad to miss the camp field trip to Frontier Town’s water park, we know he was glad to be there with his little brother. It was evident him being there mattered to Carson from the get go.
We never know what to expect from Beckett. He impresses us most of the time by his kind actions, strong will and intelligence, but he’s also prone to disappoint us at times because he can be selfish, irrational and self-centered. He is 10 years old after all. He lives his life with blinders on at times. On this particular day, that was not the case.
I will remember this year’s Surfers Healing most for what I witnessed between Carson and Beckett.
In some ways, these guys are normal brothers, but most of the time their relationship is atypical. Carson can’t do the things Beckett can do. Carson can’t just grab a bike and ride around the neighborhood with his big brother. Carson is not going to just grab a bodyboard and follow his brother to the ocean unless I go and help him. Carson and Beckett can’t play a board game together because Carson will bend the rules to win and Beckett will not tolerate it. Beckett doesn’t like that Carson’s doctor’s appointments or therapy sessions keep me from watching him at every soccer practice or limit the amount of time he can skateboard at the park.
However, while the resentment Beckett feels for his little brother is palpable and understandable at times, their relationship is special on some levels. I know because I’ve seen it. Beckett will stand up for his little brother if he ever needs it. He’s an advocate for him. As life goes forward, we will need him to do it more regularly.
Even at their young ages, we see Beckett doing his part to speak for Carson when he’s around someone who doesn’t know Carson is non-verbal. Beckett is never shy to talk and he doesn’t mind doing his part for his brother when words are needed.
Surfers Healing was one of those instances. As Carson was getting fit for a lifejacket before surfing, Beckett raced through the crowd to get to him. He was stopped at one point by a volunteer, who let him go right by once he told her that Carson was his brother. Beckett walked up to give him a huge hug and held one hand while his surfer buddy held the other. Beckett told the surfer Carson doesn’t talk but you can talk to him like you would anyone else because he understands everything. My day was already made at that point, and Carson hadn’t even surfed.
Carson, like so many of these other special needs individuals, was incredibly calm on the water with his surfer, Blake, who he surfed with two years ago. We watched him surf seven nice waves and he thoroughly enjoyed his time in the ocean. He was even standing up on his own on a couple rides.
After his session was complete, the first person to greet him was Beckett, who Carson bearhugged and actually lifted him off the ground. It made for a great picture.
It was one of those moments that can’t be staged. If we had tried, it would have never occurred. We never told Beckett to do anything on this day. He showed tremendous interest and care for his brother, and Carson’s reaction was awesome. He seemed proud and Beckett did as well. Their interactions made their parents especially proud.