“Project Serve” Recap!

Today’s blog is written by guest author Erin Himes of Pepperdine University!

Last Saturday morning around 5 AM, a group of 13 college students gathered in a dark parking lot to drive to the airport and board a flight to Honolulu. Now, one week later, a group of 13 friends are scattered across the Surfing the Nations property waiting to fly home. We want to tell you the story of our spring break.

We are a part of a program called Project Serve at Pepperdine University. Basically, that means that earlier in the year, we were placed on a team and told we would be spending our spring break with Surfing the Nations (STN). So come February 28, we were off. We had met each other in meetings before, but knew very little about each other before our departure. It’s crazy to say that now because after spending the past week surfing, laughing, and serving at STN, we have become close friends.

Being greeted by STN’s Charis and Natalie at the Honolulu Airport


Our week on Oahu was packed full of experiences. We took part in projects to take care of the STN property, talked to and learned from the STN staff, and participated in various programs that STN has to offer. We spent one day in Waikiki, where we packed bags of food and passed them out to the homeless, inviting them to attend a BBQ with us later in the day. Team member Monika Haskell commented that “it was really cool to get to know the team in this situation” as it taught us a lot about ourselves and about each other.

Pepperdine team members Micah Long and Daniel Perez performing at Open Mic Night at the Surfer’s Coffee Bar

We also helped with the Feeding the Hungry program, both in Wahiawa and in Kalihi. It was remarkable to see just how large the program is and how many people are benefiting from it. Monika also mentioned how “it was really cool to meet the local community” when we were working in Wahiawa. Our entire team was impressed with the huge impact that Feeding the Hungry makes. The people who come really know Surfing the Nations and appreciate their love and support.

Our group spent one afternoon with kids from Wahiawa in the Ulu Pono program. After playing with the kids all afternoon, we were exhausted in the best way. The group had so much energy and their fun attitudes were contagious. Team member Daniel Perez loved the experience with Ulu Pono, saying “the kids at Ulu Pono are crazy fun. They’re so loving and accepting and it’s great to see them, to play and were highlights of the trip for many of us.

So now, after seven days in Wahiawa, we are leaving with a wonderfully positive impact from Surfing the Nations. Team Co-Leader Codie Cox commented on how special STN is because of the great staff, saying “they have so many special people here. Surfing the Nations wouldn’t be what it is without all the individuals that make it up.” The love that this organization has for the community is inspiring and their commitment to doing the impossible was evident in all that we learned.

Pepperdine team at a beach clean up

Pepperdine team at a beach clean up

Through our time with the staff, the children, and each other, we can all agree that this week has taught us more than we could have ever imagined. Monika Haskell felt particularly moved, as did many of our team members, sharing that “This trip has opened my eyes. I never thought of doing anything more than graduating college and getting a job using my major. Now I know that there is so much more out there.” The 13 strangers that arrived in Wahiawa one week ago are leaving now with a family at STN and a new perspective on life. So from our Pepperdine group to the STN Ohana and Wahiawa community, thank you for letting us learn from you. We won’t forget the lessons we learned and people we met any time soon.

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