Burn survivors learn how to surf without feeling self-conscious about their scars


Children who are burn survivors took a field trip to the beach last week to learn how to surf without feeling self-conscious about their scars.

The Children’s Burn Foundation took 38 participants, including one from Burbank, to Zuma Beach in Malibu, where they received one-on-one instruction from members of the Malibu Makos Surf Club.

For some participants, it was an opportunity to be free of embarrassment.

“This is a time for them to be in the water with bathing suits where nobody will look at them differently. They can just be kids and play,” said Sharon Townsend, executive director of the Sherman Oaks-based foundation during a phone interview last week.

Participants were provided wetsuits and surfboards by the Surf Club. Instructors taught them how to stand on a surfboard and remain balanced as well as ocean safety.

The foundation offers field trips to various places, such as Brookfield Farms in Thousand Oaks and Glowzone LA in Woodland Hills, but Surf Camp remains the most popular among attendees. This is the fourth year the surfing field trip has been offered.

“The kids love it and keep requesting it each year,” said Katya Kazerskaya, a camp director for the foundation.

Participants were transported to the beach in a city-donated bus and received snacks and lunches donated by the Los Angeles Kings and Jersey Mike’s Subs.

Burbank resident Cyrus Hernandez, 13, attended Surf Camp for the second time. He said this time there was “more time for surfing and less talking.”

He learned how to stand on a surfboard, but he said his favorite part was “boogie boarding and going against the waves.”

When Cyrus was 6 years old, boiling water spilled onto his toes, he said. Though he “feels confident” despite his scars, he said he was happy to make new friends at Surf Camp.

It’s become a field trip he looks forward to each year, he said.

Twitter: @vegapriscella