At Epic Summer Surf and Beach Camp, they’re all about having fun. Founded in the summer of 2021, Epic Summer is a new camp that offers kids of all ages the opportunity to experience surfing, bodyboarding, and body surfing alongside experienced instructors. Camps are held in San Clemente, California and are focused on teaching kids ocean safety and awareness so they can enjoy the ocean for years to come. Here, Epic Summer Surf Camp owner Brandon Lascelles shares the inspiration behind the camp, how they implement safety into their program, and the role TANDM Surf’s tandem bodyboard has played in their program.
What’s your personal background with the ocean and surfing?
I was a lifeguard for ten years. I started in San Diego at Ocean Beach and then I moved to Oahu and was a city and county lifeguard in Honolulu. Then, I started teaching surf lessons in Hawai’i. I actually met my wife while I was teaching a surf lesson and she pulled me back to California. I got a job teaching middle school PE and was continuously surfing and teaching people how to surf on the side. And then I got the surf camp with the city.
What inspired you to start Epic Summer?
I had a love for the beach and the ocean and surf camp is like the best camp you can ever possibly have, especially in a city like San Clemente. There’s so much demand here and parents want their kids to be ocean safe and to have ocean awareness and feel comfortable in the water. I felt like I was really good at that, so I really pushed to get the camp with the city. It’s kind of like a dream come true for me.
Where are camps held?
At beach called "The Hole," it’s a local's beach just south of T Street. It’s perfect—it’s got a sandy bottom and it’s a huge beach.
How many kids/instructors attend each camp?
I have 50 kids a week. So there are 25 campers per season—25 in the morning and 25 in the afternoon. I have 7 instructors.
What are the instructors like?
Some of our instructors are really good competitive surfers. Others are more gentle and kind and more geared towards beginners. But all of our instructors can do pretty much everything and most of them are competitive surfers for their high schools.
What is the camp all about?
The camp is all about being safe and getting the kids ready to go out surfing by themselves. A lot of parents are hesitant to just take their kids to the beach and let the go surf. We’re all about teaching the kids to be ocean safe and aware of the ocean and things like that. After camp, they feel so much more comfortable being in the water and catching waves on their own—it’s a good program.
We also teach kids CPR but it’s not your typical CPR—we teach them about compassion, patience, and respect. So we’re constantly talking about that to the kids and are trying to promote a healthy atmosphere and teach the kids about being good people along the way.
What does a typical day at camp look like?
My camp day starts off with a group activity, which could be volleyball, dodgeball, or capture the flag. Then, we do some stretches and exercises, talk about the conditions for the day, and then the kids get their wetsuits and rashguards on. We have three different groups: we have a surf session, bodyboard/bodysurf session, and a beach games session. The kids rotate between those sessions, they do each session once, and then we wrap up and talk about the day. We give awards for kids too like kindness, compassion, respect, and patience.
How do you incorporate safety into your program?
A lot of the beach games that we play are geared toward training kids how to be safe in the water. So some of the games are on the beach but some are relay races in the water to teach kids how to get through waves, go under waves, and deal with the current. We kind of based our camp on training kids to be junior lifeguards or potentially lifeguards someday.
Because I was a lifeguard for so long I constantly talk about scenarios that kids can learn from—what happens in the water, how to be safe, and how to help someone if they ever need help. I’m drilling into their heads that every time you step on the beach, you’re a lifeguard because someone might need your help someday. Just because you’re not working as lifeguard doesn’t mean you can’t rescue someone or identify hazards and warn people.
How did you connect with TANDM Surf?
When I first got the surf camp I was just reaching out to local San Clemente companies that could potentially help us out. So I emailed John and we decided that us working together would be awesome—he’s letting us use boards and then he gets to come down to the beach and get footage and stuff. We’re going to do a special needs event eventually where John provides boards and his contact and I have the permit—it’s a win-win situation for everybody.
How have the TANDM Surf tandem bodyboards been a good addition to camp?
Number one is they’re just fun. They look like fun and they look like something different. With the handles on them, the kids feel comfortable just grabbing them and dragging them into the water—they’re soft and sleek and they’re comfortable to lay on and fall on and stuff. Ultimately, I think they’re just attractive for kids—the colors and just being so safe and fun.
It’s great for my camp because some kids don’t know anyone so to be able to go catch a wave with a stranger or someone they just met is an opportunity for them to make relationships. That’s another thing we're really trying to promote at camp is having fun with friends and meeting new people.
I’m completely expanding and adding more sessions next summer. I did three sessions this summer and I’ll probably do seven next summer. I’m going to add more kids too—instead of 25 kids per session, were going to do 30 kids per session. We’re going to try and blow it up and make it a really phenomenal healthy, happy, and safe environment for kids for a long, long time.
Click HERE to learn more about Epic Summer Surf and Beach Camp