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by Rebecca Parsons May 04, 2022 3 min read
Joey Gregory grew up surfing and bodyboarding in Newport Beach, California. When he was 17, he started teaching local surf lessons and worked for a number of different surf schools over the years, gaining experience. Although Gregory is a huge fan of surfing, his true love is bodyboarding.
In addition to working as an instructor, Gregory is a professional bodyboarder and has competed on the APB World Tour as well as the Hawaii Pro Tour. He’s caught waves around the world and has bodyboarded in picturesque locations like Hawaii, Portugal, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala.
While there were tons of different surf schools in southern California, Gregory realized there weren’t many places that offered bodyboard lessons nor were there any bodyboard schools—Gregory set out to change that. In May of 2018, California Bodyboarderswas born.
“I really loved bodyboarding and nobody had bodyboard schools or bodyboard lessons anywhere, so I figured I’d give that a shot and see if there was any interest,” says Gregory. “It’s been exceeding my expectations—I didn’t know that there would be this much interest.”
At California Bodyboarders, their mission is “to share [their] passion of bodyboarding and the ocean with as many people as possible in an effort to help the sport of bodyboarding continue to grow.”
California Bodyboarders offers after school bodyboard lessons in the spring/fall and a weeklong summer camp program in the summer. Camps take place at Corona Del Mar State Beach, which is blackballed during the summer months, making it a safe location for bodyboarding. Additionally, CDM State Beach offers easy access to nearby tide pools and other beaches to explore.
During a typical day at camp, everyone gets suited up in wetsuits and then the group goes over ocean safety and the basics of bodyboarding. After that, everyone paddles out for a morning session. Then it’s lunch, followed by some beach games, and an afternoon session before everyone packs up for the day.
During his years as a surf instructor, Gregory found that some kids were overwhelmed by the experience—it stressed them out and they had a hard time managing the large board. Although his camp caters to all experience levels, he found that there was less of a barrier to entry for beginners than there was with surfing.
California Bodyboarders also has a few TANDM Surf bodyboards, which make a great resource for kids that are more nervous or kids that want to be able to ride alongside a buddy.
“For the kids that are really timid, we’ll get them on the big [TANDM] board because there’s more surface area and they’re basically not even touching the water,” says Gregory. “We definitely use it as a tool.”
Gregory is a fan of the TANDM Surf bodyboards because they’re big and stable, but they’re also lightweight and soft, making them easy for the kids to carry and they aren’t a safety hazard in the water. He uses them as a resource to help kids that are nervous get into the water and lets more advanced kids use them to work on surf skills.
“The kids will fight over the boards,” says Gregory. “It’s been really fun getting siblings or best friends that join the camp together on the same wave together. We get them tons of waves where the instructors will push them on their own boards next to each other, but it’s a cool experience getting them on the same board together to enjoy riding the wave together.”
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