Lynn Bryant - Balikbayod 'Returning Wave'
When and where did you start surfing?
I love the water and I’ve been a competitive swimmer since age 9. After Saturday morning workouts we’d go bodyboarding in Santa Cruz, California in the 80’s. Surfing back then seemed so territorial and intimidating, so it wasn’t until 2002 when I saw more women getting into it that I thought ‘hey it’s time for me to start standing up and surfing!’
What is it that you love about surfing?
I love the flow of life that comes with surfing. You can plan all you want but when it comes to hitting the waves you are responding to what is. And the smile you get plastered to your face after many long rides, it’s priceless.
Do you have a session that stands out as your most memorable?
One time I was taken to Bolinas, California my friend Jinan’s favorite surf spot and I got my longest ride ever! That first long ride you get sticks to your memory.
Do you have a favourite break or surf travel destination?
Philippines has always been my second home, my mom always brought me there as a kid growing up. Surfing was not a national sport back then in the 70’s and 80’s. The country has embraced it in the past 15 years and it continues to grow. When I finally learned how to surf I was determined to surf there and have been hooked ever since. Encouraging a surf tourism ethos where tourists have opportunities to give back to the community that supports them is important and what brings me back to the Philippines year after year.
What kind of education have you had?
I got my Bachelor’s in Industrial Arts, I love working with my hands.
What is your day job?
By day I am a graphic designer and a mom. I also have a night hobby of going to the metal shop and welding large interactive art pieces with friends that get taken to festivals.
Can you tell us a bit about Balikbayod, what the program involves, and how the idea came about?
Balikbayod ‘Returning Wave’ started as dream to help more kids to surf their home breaks in the Philippines. It developed into an incentive based program with surfing as a reward for keeping good attendance in school. On my first visit to the Cloud 9 area of Siargao in 2007, the kids were asking me to bring them a board when I returned. Not wanting to just give one kid a board I brainstormed with friends on ways to help more kids. The board sharing idea came to the front and we started working on collecting boards. There are so many surfboards in California sitting in closets, garages, basements & storage units collecting dust. It was exciting when our first surfboard donor was a 9 year old.
When local teachers heard of our plans to bring more surfing to kids they were very concerned because they had been seeing an increase in teens who couldn’t read, a result of kids dropping from school to pursue a career in pro surfing. The prize money is a big lure for being able to feed your entire family. That was how our program developed, as a response to community concerns and promoting education.
How did you go about making it a reality?
Networking on the internet helped to make the project a reality, especially since I was trying to start this as a remote worker. I started looking up all photos in Flickr at the time for people who had been to Siargao and loved it. Soon I had a network of people who were interested in making it happen. The internet still helps tremendously with communication, it still seems so much harder in this day and age to do the actual phone calls…but it also could just be my work style. I think in-person networking is the best.
What is the philosophy behind what you guys are doing?
Since we are big on promoting education we love to support and push opportunities that teach and impart knowledge. We teach surf lessons, repairing surfboards, art and leadership.
Can you tell us a bit about the impact the program has had?
The after-school programs have created communities amongst the children, local surfers and teachers. There has been increase in the number of kids graduating and improving their grades, although we feel we have room for improvement in working with the teachers and surfers to gather useful data for more accurate reporting.
What is your role, and what does it involve?
I am the founder and co-director, I help to develop new programming ideas and implement them. I constantly seek mutually beneficial opportunities to help our program grow and sustainably support itself. A lot if it involves brainstorming, problem solving and manifesting solutions.
What is it that you love about your job?
I love traveling and surfing with new friends! Meeting and networking on the beach is my kind of board meeting.
What can we expect to see from Balikbayod in 2015?
More wahine first initiatives, organized group travel/volunteer trips to the Philippines, surfer volunteer in residence program and another women’s surf fundraiser at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.
Where can we find you online?
Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on February 8, 2015
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