Surfer’s Leadership School: A Look Inside

Heard about our Surfer’s Leadership School (SLS)? (Don’t let the ‘school’ part scare you!) It’s an adventurous, team building & character shaping 3-month program that all of our staff participate in before they join our team full-time. Read below as Danielle Posthuma and Teka Gabaldon, two of our current SLS students, share more about the program and the amazing class they get to experience it with! 

Seven Americans, two Swedes, one German, and one Canadian; we are the eleven individuals who make up this year’s Spring class of STN’s Surfer’s Leadership School (SLS). SLS is training. It is a team centered, character building program that prepares us to be leaders and full time staff of STN. During our SLS program, we are staff; we have the responsibilities and expectations of normal staff members, but these three months serve as training, mentorship and growth in a safe environment.

Meet our group: Breanna Steward (Oregon), Danielle Posthuma (Canada), Lara Hamilton (Germany), Clara McGowan (Arizona), Teka Gabaldon (California), Matthew Braica (California), Anton Andersson (Sweden), David Thurfjell (Sweden), Carson Gibbs (California), Travis Watson (California), and Zeke Conner (Florida).



Our SLS group is unique because we all graduated from the same internship. While this has brought its rewards, it has also created challenges. Our struggle has been learning to go beyond being friends and start working as a team. Through this experience, we have learned the importance of encouraging one another, holding eachother accountable, and being vulnerable with one another. We are developing the mindset that if one team member fails, we all fail; if one succeeds, we all succeed.

Part of working at Surfing the Nations is living where you work.  A dispute during office hours could easily create tension in your apartment. We are living within a few yards of our workspace and each other; our coworkers are our roommates. This creates an atmosphere where selfless love and conflict resolution is necessary. Daily, we must choose to put others above ourselves and to care about our relationships more than if we were only coworkers. The heart of living in community is sacrificial love and unity.

The idea behind SLS is that we would be given the opportunity and tools to grow and develop into successful leaders and capable staff. We are pushed to our limits physically, mentally and emotionally. This causes us to open our perspectives and builds us into compassionate people, willing to serve locally as well as internationally. Serving our community can look different depending on the department we are put into. SLS teaches us that no matter the position we’re in- whether that be behind the scenes or in the front lines- our vision of serving must be the same.

This year we are able to take our motto, “Surfer’s Giving Back” and make it a reality. Our Ohana Service Project (OSP) is to plan and run a multi-day surf camp for the youth of Oahu. This is an awesome opportunity to reestablish the original vision of Surfing the Nations: reaching people through the sport of surfing to bring about positive change to the current surf culture. We are excited to integrate surf lessons with the mentality of what it means to be a “Surfer Giving Back.” Wahiawa is the gateway to the North Shore, and we want to utilize our location as well as our vision, not just internationally, but locally.

We have two months left of SLS, and we are excited to continue this journey. We know that we will be put out of comfort zones, but we also know that this will help us to become staff that are passionate about this organization.


Written By: Danielle Posthuma and Teka Gabaldon


2 Replies to "Surfer’s Leadership School: A Look Inside"

  • ken
    February 24, 2015 (12:11 pm)

    God bless you all – so inspired by your passion and joy.

  • Cindie Schiro
    February 23, 2018 (7:55 am)

    So inspired by your commitment ! It was 20 years ago my husband and I sent our son to Surfers with a mission based in Maui .
    He excelled in his faith and enjoyed all the surfing . It saved my son from bad things he was going through at the time with some friends.
    I currently have a grandson who is Christian and is struggling in school and with life .
    He loves surfing in fact it’s his life . We live in San Clemente CA .
    Can you please tell me what your requirements are for joining your team ?
    Thank you I look forward to hearing from you
    Cindie Schiro!

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