Paula Bushardt is a retired engineer living in Florida who has joined us on several SWA retreats. She offered up this review of her experiences:
First Retreat in El Salvador
My first visit to Surf with Amigas was in 2012 in El Salvador at Las Flores. A dear friend called me up and said she wanted to go on a surf trip to celebrate her 40th birthday. I told her I was in as long as it was all-inclusive. I had been working many hours and was exhausted from life’s burdens and didn’t want to have to think for a week. The goal was to ride epic waves, get warm and go brain dead.
Here’s the highlight video from Paula’s first retreat with us, back when SWA was called “Suave Dulce!” Check out Paula’s wave at 2:13 of the video!
My friend hooked us up with Holly and we were in. The four of us who chose to go were all seasoned surfers. I had the cockiest attitude even suggesting that we not pay extra for film and coaching. I just want to surf and relax! As it turned out, some of the waves were the best waves I have ever ridden. The size was perfect and a super long right point break. It was a blast! So then the time came to watch videos. I had only seen myself on video once or twice and hardly any photos. It was so interesting to see that those great cutbacks I was doing weren’t so great, the drops weren’t that steep and the hyper speed I was going down the faces was actually really slow. Holly was so professional and respectful in her coaching too. She had two suggestions – one was when I cutback, to go all the way back to the breaking part of the wave to make me go faster when I cut back again. I had never thought to do that but she was right – It worked great! She also suggested I try a fat fish she had but I was too stubborn to do that because I was having fun on the board I had. To this day, I try to go all the way to the breaking part of the wave when I cutback and regret not trying the fish.
Here’s the video from Paula’s first Surf With Amigas trip to Costa Rica. Her wave is at :43″.
Why choose Surf With Amigas
I have done a total of three of her camps and had a blast each time. She does an excellent job of picking her coaches and is a natural manager. She is even very smart! You can’t help but fall in love with the young ladies she hires too. They are so full of adventure and the trips really take you back to your youth. The other great thing about the trips is you meet the other ladies on the retreat. They are all fascinating and adventure seekers. I have made some lifelong friends of professional, strong ladies of all ages that ranged from moms, geologists, professional writers to pilots!
Surfing past age 60
Aging is not pleasant when your body starts to act up. Even if you have exercised and surfed your whole life and watched your weight, things happen. Some people are more fortunate than others. I always vowed that I wouldn’t let myself age. I was 56 on the first trip and the oldest of the attendees but in top shape. Somehow my age was forgotten and it was so great to be with all the young girls and feel accepted. It amazed me that I could hang with them and truly forget my age. However, since that first trip, around two years later, my pop up began to slow down. The deficiency has become even more noticeable after 60 and it appears to be related to arthritic hips and/or weakness. The neck bone spur doesn’t help either. I retired recently and thought if I surfed every day I would get my pop up back, but no such luck. It is forcing me to ride bigger boards and to take off on mellower waves which sucks because I have always been a short boarder. Holly’s team supported me on this last trip through yoga and tailoring my surf location to longboard waves. The yoga really helped on the flexibility but not so much on pop up speed. About 50% of my friends who have surfed all their lives have quit surfing by their mid-sixties but I refuse to do that! I am in my third summer of SUP surfing just in case I do lose my pop up completely though! However, when the waves are good, I still prefer regular surfing.
If you’re thinking about it, just do it!
This accolade is written in the hopes that all the senior ladies out there who are interested in going to a surf camp take the plunge with one of Surf With Amigas’ camps. They will take good care of you and make sure you get in the right kind of waves for your skill level. You will be fed well and will not have to think about a thing except maybe a scorpion or two. The coaches even load and unload your boards! There will be memories of a life time created and you will have films of your surfing you can show the grandkids!