SURFING SOAPBOX: Surfing still a constant path

Thursday, in Hawaii, I received a John Kelly Environmental Achievement Award presented by the Surfrider Foundation. Now I’m trying to quantify what this award really means to me.

First thoughts are that it is very unexpected and I feel honored, goose bumps and all.

I don’t see this award as being about myself; rather it is more about the wonderful people who have had such a great influence in my life. This award represents all that I have experienced and been taught. It is about people who not only have shared my life, good or bad, but who, more importantly, have taught me what the meaning of life is "” it’s about never giving up.

In a lot of ways the worst of times in my life have been the best of times in my life. They have taught me how to survive. If there’s one thing I would like to do, it’s to reach the younger generations and share with them that dreams do come true.


I am living one.

If it wasn’t for my brother "” who caught a wave, leaving me out in the ocean crying the first time he took me surfing "” I wouldn’t be where I am today. Surfing has since remained the one constant path in my life. It’s because of my respect for surfing that I do everything that I can to give back to not only surfing but to our oceans and environment. I know how much the ocean can mean to our children and how much it has meant to me. I lost my best friend to drugs when I was a young boy and thankfully I had surfing "” that always kept me focused on the future.

So I really don’t understand why I was given this award because I am still just following my love, the same love I have always followed, surfing.

I want to thank some people without whom the award would never have been possible. One is Roger Butow, who as founder of the Clean Water Now! Coalition invited me to speak at Laguna Beach City Council regarding water quality issues in Laguna Beach, giving me my first start in the world of environmentalism. Also, David Vanderveen, without whom I would never be accepting this award. He took a chance on me and more importantly he believed enough in me to allow me to get out there this year and follow my dream. I would also like to thank the Surfers Path, which started the ECO-Warrior project with me.


Finally, I dedicate the 2007 John Kelly award to my Mom and Dad.


JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and founder of the Aloha School of Surfing. He can be reached at