Surfin Fire Surf Camp

November 27, 2011, Judd

A Google search for “Surf Camps San Diego” yields over two million listings. Of course, there aren’t that many surf camps, but in a way it sure feels like it.

If you’re a parent of some groms who want to attend a surf camp, how do you choose which one is reliable and safe?

There are many surf camps with great reputations, one of them being Surfin Fire Surf Camp. Run by ]on “JP” Peterson, a 10-year veteran of the Encinitas Fire Department, Surfin Fire is supervised by other firemen and lifeguards and other EMS personnel.

“Anyone can set up a surf camp,” said Peterson, “It’s the experience behind the person who runs the camp that counts.”

Peterson’s camp, which donates boards and camp sessions to children at several Encinitas-area elementary schools, is entering its sixth year. It has two locations: Ponto and Moonlight beaches.

The first summer of Surfin Fire’s existence, the camp ran for three weeks and sold out. It has since expanded to 13 weeks. Peterson can often be seen at the Ponto location lugging a big oxcart on the beach that holds about 15 boards.

Surfin Fire has a 4-1 ratio of campers to instructors and Peterson’s team not only coaches surfing, but also paddle boarding (there are relay competitions) and the sweet art of knee paddling.

“We teach a team atmosphere instead of only surfing and hanging out on the beach,” said Peterson, who was one of the leading organizers of the inaugural Encinitas Surf Festival, which was held April 30 and featured a contest between surfing firefighters and other EMS personnel.

In his early twenties, Peterson ran the junior lifeguard camp in Dana Point. His fellow Encinitas firefighting fraternity has won four of the last five surfing contests that are part of the California Firefighters Summer Olympics.

In last year’s Olympics, Peterson won two gold medals. (This past Olympics, Otis Sistrunk [see Swami's Surfing Association] won a gold.)

The father of two accomplished surfing daughters, Marisa, 11, and Kyla, 14, Peterson decided to start Surfin Fire when his daughters were old enough to attend a camp.

“I couldn’t find a good camp that I trusted,” said Peterson, “so I started my own.”

On the web: www.surfinfire.com


Judd Handler is a freelance writer and wellness/lifestyle coach in Encinitas, California. He surfs uncrowded, fun reef breaks; plays instrumental alternate-tuning guitar; goes hiking in the backcountry; and is amazed on a daily basis by just being alive.