ENCINITAS — Nerf-surf jousting competitions and other crazy antics notwithstanding, the fifth annual Switchfoot Bro-Am festival was backing a serious cause with the help of a crowd swelling to approximately 7,000 people.
“The Bro-Am has been my favorite day of the year ever since we started it back in 2005,” said Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman in an earlier statement. “To see our hometown come together to help out a deserving group of kids is an incredible experience — surfing, music, and the San Diego scene at its best,” he said.
“This year we’re honored to be partnering with StandUp for Kids, a nonprofit organization helping homeless and street kids in San Diego for the past 18 years,” Foreman said. The group was the beneficiary of last year’s event as well.
The funds raised from the day at the beach and an auction held the day before totaled approximately $93,000. Kim Goodeve-Green, center director for StandUp For Kids in Oceanside, said she was grateful for the money that will provide much-needed resources for the homeless youth the organization supports.
“The money raised is great, but for us (the volunteers) it is all about the kids,” she said. “During this event our kids are able to be kids. Not homeless, not hungry and definitely not invisible.”
Goodeve-Green attended the event with 25 young people serviced by the non-profit, all-volunteer organization with locations in Oceanside and San Diego. “The greatest benefit will be that maybe one kid will change their outlook of themselves and believe that they are special and that they can achieve anything,” she said. The young people were outfitted with beach attire donated by local action-sports companies. “They get to feel normal, even if it’s just for a few hours,” she said.
The organization assists young adults — with an average age of 18 — who are homeless. The drop-in center provides meals and shower facilities three nights each week in addition to counseling and other resources. “They don’t have an opportunity to be kids because they’re always in survival mode,” Goodeve-Green said. “This gives them a chance to relax.”
Several of the young people took advantage of surf lessons donated by Soul Surfing Surf School. Tim Fischer, one of the school’s lead instructors, said he was thrilled to be able to help out. “These kids have enough trouble in their everyday lives,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to help them out.”
Fischer said that one student, who doesn’t swim, stood out among the rest. “She’s never been in the ocean before but she put her trust in us,” he said. The smile on her face each time she recovered from a wipeout and the few times she stood up on the board lifted Fischer’s spirits. “That stoke just keeps me going,” he said.
Goodeve-Green said the money raised will go toward providing more resources for the homeless youth, whose numbers have dramatically increased in the last year. “One thing we really need more of that money can’t buy is volunteers,” she said. “With more people we could serve more meals each week and stay open to serve more kids.”
Aside from the powerhouse music performances of Switchfoot and other area bands, the event at Moonlight Beach on June 27 featured a team surfing competition as well as an after-party at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.
The sun provided all of the energy necessary to power the event. Bro-Am co-director Mia Stefanko said this year’s partnership was with Sustainable Waves, a local operation that offers cutting-edge solar-powered sound and staging.
According to co-founder Mark McLarry, Sustainable Waves utilizes the renewable energy sources of the sun to deliver 100 percent pollution free concerts. By using solar power rather than a diesel generator or grid power, this particular festival avoided emitting approximately 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That is the equivalent of not driving a car approximately 1,100 miles or the annual sequestration of 66 trees.
The entire roof of the main stage was covered in solar panels while a smaller stage captured enough energy to power vendor booths for the entire festival. “I thought the event went really well,” McLarry said. “I was stoked to be working with Switchfoot and all of the other great bands.”
To learn more about StandUp for Kids or to volunteer, visit www.standupforkids.org.