You got some old surf equipment at home that you don’t need anymore? Then don´t leave it getting dusty in some corner but see what you could do with it..
Provide the Slide is an organization that brings surf equipment to places where people cannot afford it themselves. Christopher, one of the founders of the non-profit organization, tells us how the project came into being and what role sustainability plays for them.
“We were looking for a new (travel) destination where there are good waves but no crowd.”
And so it began with a surf trip in 2019 to West Africa, to be more precise: to Liberia. “Liberia is a very welcoming country, but a very poor country, too”. After spending a great time there and surfing great waves, Simon and Christopher gave their boards to some kids before leaving back home. However, they couldn’t forget all the young people who can’t afford surfboards themselves. “There are a lot of surfers there, but very little equipment and if there is equipment it is in a very bad condition”.
“Everything started with a Facebook group”
And so back in Switzerland the two of them, supported by their friends Basti and Valentin, came up with the idea to send old surfboards from Europe to Africa.
“We started to collect surfboards from our friends, at some point we had 20 boards, and then it somehow became independent, suddenly we had 120 boards, different collection points and so on”.
And so in April 2020 they made it possible: the first board transport to Africa. In a big container and well packed, 36 boards were sent to Robertsport to their partner, the Liberian Surf Federation. You can imagine how happy the young African surfers were about the material.
“There are many spots where people want to surf, but they simply don’t have the money to buy the boards”
And since there are many unused surfboards in Europe and fortunately many generous donors, Provide the Slide´s idea has grown rapidly. There are now over 20 collection points in Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Surfshops and individuals store the boards and bring them to Switzerland, where they are repaired and/or equipped (with leash, fins etc.). Finally, the boards are packed into containers which are sent to Africa. The second transport to Africa, in September 2020 was to Senegal and again very successful; next transports to other destinations are planned for 2021.
“Our core competence is collecting and sending the surfboards”
The team of Provide the Slide selects thoughtfully local partner organizations to take care of the distribution and use of the equipment. Christopher explains why the local distribution is not part of their own coordination: “They (the local organizations) can do this much better than we can. We try to do the best in selecting partners who realize our ideas”. For the partner selection in Senegal, for example, they worked together with the Smile Wave Fund Organization.
“Surfboards for a Cause. Surfers support Surfers”
After all, the idea is not just simply donating surfing equipment. The team from Provide the Slide sees many positive aspects behind the project. With the equipment, they not only want to make it possible for young people to surf, but also provide sustainable values to the communities. For instance, surfing promotes social integration because young people build surfing communities developing their identities and self-confidence. But also environmental awareness can be raised- Provide the Slide hopes that young people who surf and are therefore in close connection to the ocean will think of and promote nature conservation. Finally, surfing can also be seen as an economic factor, as surf courses, restaurants, repair shops or other new opportunities to generate income can develop around surfing spots.
Sounds good? We think so too! If you want to learn more about Provide the Slide, or if you want to find a collection point for your old surfboard, fins, leash, wax or similar equipment, take a look at the project’s nice website.
If you are outside of Europe, for example in the US, you might be interested in the Rerip organization in California – we soon want to want to write more about this wonderful project! Or do you know of any other similar project which collects old surfboards? Let us know, we will be happy to hear about it!