Karen I.

I'd always wanted to try surfing. I'd looked into lessons before various tropical vacations, but never actually took the plunge. When a friend mentioned she'd heard great things about a surf school in the Rockaways (the Rockaways??!), I was intrigued. I called the Locals, spoke to "Mike", and made a reservation. They had the boards, rash guards, and the skillz. I needed to show up in my swimsuit with water, sunscreen, and a towel. Anything else? 

"Do your homework," Mike said. 

"What?" I mildly panicked. 

"Just kidding," he said, "See you soon."

This was the perfect first interaction to have with the Locals. A casual confidence, a joking ease. They love what they do and it's infectious. 

I showed up for my first group lesson and was greeted by the Mike Kololyan and Mike Reinhardt like a friend. Not knowing if I was "regular" or "goofy", having never surfed before, I was quite nervous. After our land lesson (an unexpected shove to the back determined I was "regular") we were ready to go, and jumped in with Locals instructor, David.

The top two barriers (expressed to me) most often associated with learning how to surf are:
1- "I have no sense of balance."
2- "I'm afraid of sharks."

For number one, I can guarantee you will have a good share of balanced rides on your FIRST LESSON. They truly want to "share the stoke" and will select waves you can manage, give your board a shove, and you'll be off! You'll have a blast! 

This brings me to number two. Sometimes there are creatures, but I've found your biggest friend AND foe is the ocean itself. The ocean is boss and you need to pay attention to it. You aren't likely to encounter sharks, but you'll probably agitate some jellyfish and get yanked around by the water. Don't worry it's worth it (and admittedly, prior to surfing I was more of a land shark).

After quelling the original concerns, you will begin to learn how complicated surfing is. I'm thankful for the knowledge and enthusiasm of Mike Kololyan and Mike Reinhardt. They have a fantastic batterie of instructors that all have their own style and manner; David "the guru", Dillon "the dam", Aaron "the professor", Greg "the water plow", Will, John, Pete... I am sure I am forgetting some folks, but the point is these guys are confident, jovial gents who make even the most choppy days safe and victorious. The Locals apply good judgement and will cancel class if it's too rough or too flat. The instructors provide practical advice to expedite your evolution from kook-to-surfer e.g., why you "ate it" on your last wave and how to address the error, or they'll acknowledge good things you are instinctively picking up. They also inadvertently offer up surfing truisms like "Stay positive for your commitment to the water", "Wherever you're looking, is where you're going", "Approaching [the ocean] with a negative mindset will likely yield negative result", that will make you a solid convert.

After starting lessons with the Locals last summer I took my first surfing vacation to Puerto Escondido in January. I never would have thought I'd be so into surfing and I owe my enthusiasm to these guys. Make no mistake though- surfing is hard. Really hard. Now that I've got the basics, I'm looking forward to "leveling up" with the Locals. They'll have you wishing they were around when you were a kid, to groom you into a proper "grom". To that point, any kid who participates in their surf camp will have a blast. 

The Locals love the water and love surfing. They care about their community, the Rockaways, and they care about their clients.