After eleven years of Maui Surfer Girls, our alums have grown up to do some incredible things with their lives. We have college students presently attending Harvard, Vassar, Colombia, and graduates of Stanford, Reed, Prescott College to name a few. We have a runway model currently in Paris, and a visual art presenter at a LA Ted conference. As teenagers they all had that spark to succeed, but I’d like to think that their empowerment was amplified by learning how to surf with their peers and mentors at Maui Surfer Girls.
As our surf camp founder, or “Mama D” as the girls call me, I could not be more proud of the young women that they’ve become. I’ve reconnected with our MSG alumni via facebook of course, and would love to share with our greater MSG community all the amazing things that our alumni campers are now doing in their 20s. And they had some good words of advice for the future generation of MSGs.
Here’s what they had to say.
Hannah May, MSG camper 2003
Hannah cruising at the Kahoma Cabin in the West Maui Mountains.
“MSG was one of the most influential, inspiring two weeks of my life. Not only did I fall in love with surfing, I grew in so many ways as a young woman.
The late night girl power campfire talks, unlimited bowls of fresh watermelon, dawn patrol surf sessions, standing up on my first wave, breaking my first board (oops!) and bonding with girls from all over the world, was ultimately the perfect sanctuary to learn, love and just BE….
After MSG, my inspiration to live a positive, surf- filled, productive life only prospered. I graduated my high school at the top class earning honors awards and academic scholarships to attend UH Manoa on the island of Oahu, studying global environmental science.
I lived in Oahu for one year, making the principles list at the end of my freshman year of college while still making the time to get into the ocean every spare moment. In Oahu I began exploring the world of modeling, and shortly after I was given the opportunity to work as a model in London, Paris and Milan (Italy).
I decided to start trekking the world, and although I knew living in the city and not having the ocean to disappear into would be a challenge, I also knew any challenge was a good one and something I can learn from. Although I was given the opportunity to travel and model I wasn’t at a place where I was comfortable to stop my university studies- so I decided to do both!
Whether I am making snow angels and drinking hot coco in Scotland and Sweden, watching the street performers in London, spending hours standing in front of the Norte dam and studying art in the Louvre, or eating whole Italian pizzas in Milan, my positive go-to MSG attitude is still driving me forward. One thing I learned at MSG is that if you’re going to paddle for the wave you better paddle hard!
After a summer back at home filled with sun, ocean, fresh coconuts, and aloha, I’m back on my trekking adventure. I am currently working in Paris but I’m soon off to Thailand to work and then off to Cape town, South Africa (whoo hoo finally some surf!)
As a junior in college and a full time traveler I couldn’t be happier, and am so grateful for everyone who has inspired me and helped me grow! I give thanks for Dustin and the whole MSG team. You girls are awesome. I am content that MSG has had such a lasting impact on my life and only wish the same for all future MSGS! Your life is yours, so paddle hard and smile!"
Lila Roo, MSG camper 2001-2 CIT 2003-4, Staff 2005.
"I have spent my entire life traveling and making art, and continue to do so, except now I am in love with surfing, so this impacts the places I can travel to, because without surf, life is hard to imagine. The past few months I have been living in LA next to Steven Speilburg in a mansion of dreams, painting jungle cats, putting together art performances, surfing Malibu on borrowed boards, getting inspiration from the homeless and asking existential questions. But last week I heard the winter swells have arrived and so I bought a one way ticket to Hawaii!
MSG has had an unimaginable impact on my life, and I will never be the same! My life revolves around surfing, soulful surfing, and it has led to me to a path of health and happiness.
My advice: there is only one of you, so be YOUR best, individuality takes strength and commitment but if you can find what feeds you, only positive things will come from your life. STAY IN THE OCEAN!"
Jenny Noreen, MSG camper 2003-4
Jenny "on fire" at MSG 2003 Surf Olympics
"Right now I am a senior art major at the University of Puget Sound in Washington. I love the Pacific Northwest and have become more and more involved with the Outdoor program here and outdoor leadership. I am working on improving our outdoor program and have been throwing my life into it, which is both challenging and incredibly rewarding. I am also so excited to travel! I spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica last year and only got to surf twice, which was obviously a tragedy, but traveling opened my eyes even more to how much I want to learn and discover still around the whole world, and also to the fact that I have to have both ocean, mountains, rivers and friends in my life. I also raft-guided for a while last summer and I LOVED IT! Now I just have to figure out how to play for the rest of my life!
MSG had a grand impact on me! I think it was the best thing I could have done at an influential time in my life when I was still figuring out who the heck I was. Going surfing with a group of empowering women motivated me to be more self confident. I think this was one of the first times that I saw such beautiful lifestyles and attitudes that I wanted to aspire to.
My advice is to embrace life! It is beautiful and not worth stressing over."
Michaela Steinbeck: MSG Camper 2005 & 7
"Thanks so much for including me in the MSG newsletter. Right now I am loving life as a junior at Columbia University! I'd tossed around the idea of medical school at the beginning of my college career but ultimately chose a major in English because reading great literature and writing about it is really where my passion lies. I'm putting my acrobatic skills to use as a member of Columbia's cheerleading squad and escaping to the outdoors during winters as a racer on our ski team. I am really happy with my life right now. I keep noticing this joy in my voice whenever I get on the phone with my mom. Life is good.
MSG has had such a profound impact on my life that it's hard to articulate but here it goes: I had my first MSG experience as a sophomore in high school. At the time I was extremely wrapped up in my appearance and how others perceived me (do you remember I showed up dragging that huge suitcase through the mud?) and felt very cynical towards female relationships. MSG took me out of my normal life and into an environment where my self worth had nothing to do with external qualities and where I could genuinely connect with female mentors and peers. Now, I strive to be the "real" Michaela and to surround myself with people who inspire me. The shift in perspective that I experienced at MSG has made me a happier person.
Michaela's oceanic bliss
I can ditto that advice, Michaela. Laughter is the best medicine and we sure get a heavy dose of that at camp each year. I think it's important for girls to be girls, to stall the "coming of age" process a bit before the "real world" hits them up side the head after graduating from high school. Having that time at Maui Surfer Girls, to be away from pressures of school and parents, is like an incubator that can instill important life lessons and character building opportunities to take back home with them. If I've seen one quality that MSG has hatched in our girls throughout the years, it is authenticity to oneself and others. When our camp community creates an atmosphere of non-judgement, girls can relax and be themselves and when that happens, magic happens. And with each girl, we hope that some of that magic is kept inside of them: a love of oneself, each other, and Nature. Our girls then can go into the “real world” with a renewed sense of self and passion to make a difference in their community back home. From the joy and enthusiasm in between the lines of their interview, my mama d. instincts tell me that we’re accomplishing our mission: empowering girls through the sport of surfing.
To keep in the Maui Surfer Girls loop: BE A MSG FAN!