In the Beginning

On an enlightening but often painful trip to California in 2008, Rich Emerson (a UK Gulf War veteran) bumped into surfer and writer Ben Marcus at a Malibu Creek parking lot sale. He was selling old surfboards and second-hand wetsuits to raise money for ‘Operation Amped’, a Southern California based organisation that had been supporting injured American troops, veterans and their families by involving them in the surfing community and the healing potential of surfing since 2006.

This conversation led Rich to meet Keynan Hobbs (himself a Gulf War Veteran) who was running surf camps for combat veterans, many of whom had PTSD, at Tourmaline Beach near San Diego. Rich brought this idea back to the UK. On the 19th & 20th September 2009 the first-ever Operation Amped UK event took place at Gwithian Beach in Cornwall. Surf Action was born.

In recent years a lot of research has taken place which demonstrates that people can best support and enhance their own health and wellbeing by participating in regular physical activity, but whilst people are experiencing PTSD and many other severe stress related conditions they are blinkered to this fact. Surf Action’s intervention methods and joined up recovery tools and programmes give their service users the motivation and support that they need to succeed and lead a full and healthy life.

The concept of viewing the natural environment as a ‘gym’ evolved and the coastal environment assumed the epithet ‘Blue Gym’. At Surf Action we look to use the UK’s magnificent coastal environment, surfing and other high intensity watersports to support our veterans and their families. Many have physical or psychological injuries and Surf Action helps them to access the full facilities and health benefits of the blue gym and natural environment.