Colin Kuit - PE Teacher at the Green School

When did you get your first surfboard?
Actually, I started late. I was 18, and it was an old dinged up Larry Levine 6’ 10” in Jeffrey’s Bay.

Are you from Jeffrey’s Bay?
I went to a university in Port Elizabeth, and started surfing in Port Elizabeth and at the nearby Jeffrey’s Bay.  I grew up in the bush, in a little town near the Kruger National Park, so surfing originally was just a holiday thing for me. I was in boarding school, and I only moved down to the coast when I was 18.

So you’re into safaris and all that stuff?
That’s right. Bush, lions, elephants, and all that. My grandfather used to shoot them.

What is it that you love about surfing?
We had a holiday house in the Natal South Coast, a place called Southbroom. We used to go down there on holidays, and I just used to see the lifeguards working and the guys surfing at the point. That was it. I just saw it, and was like “I’ve got to do that. This is awesome.” I just started doing it, and as you know, after the first time you get up, that’s it, you’re done. I love the ocean, how you get naturally high and super fit at the same time, being in the natural environment.

What degree were you studying?
I did a Sports Science degree at the University of Port Elizabeth. After that, I lived in Jeffrey’s Bay and took time off. I worked as a lifeguard and I did some surf tours around the country for foreigners who came to J-Bay and wanted to get out and get some uncrowded waves. I did that for a couple of years, just surfing. 

I then left for the UK to go and work.  I worked in the UK as a surf instructor and lifeguard in Newquay and I did that for 5 seasons, 5 years.  During the winter I ran a surf camp in Morocco, and then just travelled. I would do Indo and Europe, just surfing. It was only when I was about 26 or 27 that I did my teaching degree in England, to become a PE teacher.

Where have you worked?
I did a year in England as a PE teacher after I qualified, and that was enough for me; I had to get out of there. I wanted to live in Asia, in the tropics, and I got a job at the British School in the Philippines. I was there for 5 years. International schools get really good holidays and in those 5 years, I spent a lot of time surfing and travelling around the Philippines and Indonesia.  I also spent 5 seasons working as a surf guide in Madagascar during the July/August holiday period.

How long have you been in Bali for, now?
4 years, and it’s my third year at the Green School.

What’s your role at the Green School?
I’m the head of PE and Sports. I’m in charge of the PE curriculum for the whole school. I teach grades 6 to 12 and I also run the after school sports program. I used to teach the whole school, but we now have another P.E. teacher as the school has grown.

Is surfing included in the after school sports?
It will be as of next year. Up until now I’ve just been taking kids on weekend surf trips.  As of next year, I’ll have developed an outdoor ed program which will include surfing, surf lifesaving, and then all the stuff we can do in the jungle as well, like high ropes courses, mountain biking, just a full-on outdoor ed program.  In that program, kids will go surfing as well. That’s part of the curriculum.

I’m also developing, which will be launched in September, a board rider’s program which is called The Green Wave Rider’s Surfing Academy. This board rider’s program will be a year-round thing and kids will be coached after school during the week, once a week during school time, and then also weekends.  Saturdays will be surf coaching and on Sundays they will be doing a lifesaving program. It is a full-on board riders program where students are coached at whatever level they are at. If they are really good then they will be coached for contests and free surfing.

Part of the Green Wave Riders is doing formal qualifications through ASI (Academy of Surfing Instructors). They will do achievement certificates based on their level of surfing. Once they’re 16 they will do the Level 1 Surfing Instructor’s Certificate and their lifeguard bronze medallion.  They can then get work experience working with surf schools here in Bali, and working voluntarily with the local crew of lifeguards as community service.  There will also be the opportunity to get involved in running surf contests and getting a taste of the surf industry.

The program is backed by Quiksilver, so we are working closely with them. A big part will be all the environmental projects that we’re doing with Quiksilver.  One coming up is the Bali Big Eco Weekend, a big beach cleanup project, contests, and featured celebs like Mark Richards and Tom Carroll.  Our kids will be involved in that.  Some other environmental projects like the ROLE Foundation based in Nusa Dua, a local organization called Gus which go into local schools and educate the kids on the environment and plastic.

Is the Green School mostly expat kids? And does this program cater to expats or locals?
That’s a great question because that leads me onto the next thing. Green School is mainly expats, but we do have scholarship kids. We’ve got about 10% Balinese and Indonesian kids at the moment, and the aim is to get that up to about 20%.  I’m in talks with Quiksilver and other companies to sponsor the kids in the Green Wave Riders Program, and also in the Green School; either partial scholarship or full scholarship. We want to get the up-and-coming groms in the school and in the program, as well.

One thing Quiksilver is really excited about is the more formal structure for these kids to train. Currently they just go out and surf and then they do contests. No one’s training them, no one’s mentoring them, no one’s looking after them.  I’d like to get Quiksilver to back them in the Green Wave Riders program, but then also, get them educated in the Green School. That’s the long-term goal, the big goal.

Part of the profits we get from expats in the Green Wave Riders will go towards the scholarship program as well, to get local kids involved. I very much want the Green Wave Riders to be completely multicultural and integrated.

Can you give me a bit of a background on the Green School and how it came about? What its philosophy and focus is?
A guy called John Hardy and his wife founded it about 5 or 6 year ago. John was big in the jewellery business here in Bali and pretty well-known in Bali. The whole school is made out of bamboo and it’s all about sustainability. What we’re developing right now is a unique curriculum where we do all the regular subjects such as math, science, and those core subjects, but there is a huge emphasis on green studies, which is all the environmental education plus thematic lessons; everything to do with sustainability and all subjects’ focus around that.

Everything is very much tailored toward kids' individual needs and individual learning programs, especially in middle and high school. For instance, if a kid wants to come here do the SATs and go try to get in a school like Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, or whatever, they can do that. If a kid wants to go a completely different route and become an entrepreneur, maybe university’s not their way, that’s there as well. We try to create opportunities for kids of all different walks of life.

What do you like most about your job?
Definitely the environment, I work in the natural environment. I remember in Manila, the concrete and the walls.  It’s so different here, it’s completely natural and there are no walls, I’m in the jungle all the time. The environment is just amazing. It’s really good for you but It is hard as well.  It’s the tropics and we don’t have air con, you get mucky, you get drained, but the whole environment here in the jungle is really cool. Nothing beats a dawnie on the beach and having a few good waves, and then heading into school. It’s just a really good lifestyle and really natural and really healthy.  I also love working with the kids and connecting with them, seeing them improve and achieve things.

What’s your local break?
Serangan is my local break. I live in Sanur, so I surf Serangan most of the time. Then from Serangan to school, it takes about ½ hour, maybe a bit more with traffic to get to.

Of all the places you’ve travelled to, what’s your favourite place?
I’ve got a few, actually. My favourite spot I’m not going to tell you about, it’s a secret. Let’s just say I love going to East Indonesia. East Indonesia is still pretty untouched and uncrowded.

Madagascar is a favourite, there’s so many breaks that are unexplored, and just the place where I used to do the trips and stuff. Even there, still, you get world-class waves and not too many people out. It’s just a unique place, beautiful place.

I used to love the Mentawais but I’m over it now. I haven’t been there for years, I’m just done. It’s just too busy for me now. The Philippines, I love the Philippines. If you get the right typhoon and you’re on the east coast in the Philippines, you can get Indo style waves with no one out. It’s awesome. I love the Philippines.

Where can we find you online?


Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on May 1, 2013
Categories: Interviews