Last week saw the first ever Horse Boy Surf & Turf Camp, a collaboration of horses, camping and surfing for autism families hosted by Horse Boy Foundation, Square Peg Foundation, Indojax Surfing and Half Moon Bay Surf Club.

The concept of a camp that incorporated not only horses but surfing had been a dream of Rupert’s for a while but when he shared that dream with Joell Dunlop, Executive Director of Square Peg Ranch, she immediately called a friend of hers, Rocky Raynor, at the Half Moon Bay Surf Club. It wasn’t long before a plan was in motion. Meanwhile IndoJax Surf Charities have been offering surfing to disadvantaged populations for years and are experts at getting kids safely into the water. When they came on board we were ready for Rupert’s dream to become a reality.

And that reality turned into one of the most successful Horse Boy Camps we have run to date. The kids had a blast with the horses and all of them were thrilled to get in the water when the time came for surfing. One Mom was particularly thrilled that her son with autism could share this experience with his neurotypical brother – ‘There aren’t many activities that my autistic son and his little brother can share the joy in together…but today you   made that happen!’

Like all Horse Boy Camps one of the most important aspects of this one was to provide a safe and happy space where autism families could feel included and supported by one another as well as our staff and volunteers.  In the words of another Mom It is such a relief to be among people who see his strengths, and do not stand with crossed arms and pursed lips as they view him through eyes narrowed in judgement and disapproval. And what a relief for A* to know that people wouldn’t be upset with him or disappointed by his choices to participate or not. That in and of itself was a huge gift.’

Rowan, who was also present at the camp, particularly enjoyed the chance to learn to surf with his Dad and, as is his way, charmed all the surf instructors in minutes.

The huge sucess of this pilot camp has convinced us that we need to organize and run many more 'surf and turf' collaborations for in the words of Rupert ‘We really achieved something quite extraordinary here. I haven’t seen so many cognitive and sensory changes happen so radically in such a short space of time to such a large number of kids. The surf/turf is totally complimentary.’

Watch this space for more information about upcoming ‘Surf and Turf’ camps.