The Coast News Group
A very tired Grauer School Surf Team after completing the ninth annual 100 Wave Challenge. Photo by Chris Ahrens

Waterspot: Waving kids home at Boys to Men

Boys to Men Mentoring is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is committed to creating communities of dedicated men who encourage and empower disconnected and fatherless boys on their journey to manhood.

Joe Sigurdson, his brother Herb and their friend Craig McClain founded Boys to Men Mentoring in 1996. Like most nonprofits, they are forever in need of funding. Things changed for the better when, several years ago, Joe was surfing and had the bizarre notion that surfers could trade waves ridden for cash to help support the program. Similar to a walk-a-thon where participants raise money for each mile walked, the 100 Wave Challenge would collect the funds needed to aid the 800-some kids involved.

The idea was solid, but without support from the media and the surfing community, it would remain just that — an idea. Quick to get on board was local surfer and New 8’s meteorologist Shaun Styles. The initial groundswell was followed by more media sources, including newspapers, TV, and the nationally syndicated show “Good Morning America.”

It’s been about eight years since Joe met 1977 World Surfing Champion, South African born, Shaun Tomson. Since then, Tomson and his brother Paul have been involved, with Shaun himself raising over $23,000 for the charity. Other top surfers on note participating include professional surfing legend Damian Hobgood, big wave-chargers Joe and Jojo Roper, the Shed’s Bird Huffman and BoardRoom founder Scott Bass, who helped jump-start the 100-Wave Challenge by offering Joe a free trade-show booth.

Located in Encinitas, The Grauer School slogan “Learn by Discovery,” has been put into practice for the past three years with their participation in the 100-Wave Challenge. Led by brilliant surfer and Grauer Surf Team coach, Brian Dugan, the Grauer School contributed over $4,000 this year to the charity.

The surf on Saturday, Sept. 21 was small and glassy as surfers as young as 8 years old took to the Mission Beach shore break for the ninth time in as many years. Financially, this year topped all previous years by bringing in $400,000. (Not bad for an afternoon at the beach.) When considering, however, that one of the most significant indicators of criminal behavior is the absence of a stable father in the home, far more help is needed from the community. This is not a surfer’s problem, but a universal problem, that affects us all. Consider the following statistics: 85% of youth in prison grew up in a fatherless home, of 54 men profiled on death row, they all confessed to having abusive fathers in the home or no father at all.

This is where Boys to Men Mentoring steps in, helping young boys learn the necessary skills that were never taught, but are required to grow from a child into an adult.

It is estimated that the numbers of boy’s living without fathers has quadrupled in this country since 1960. They grow older and stronger each day, and if we don’t take care of them, they will one day take care of us.

Boys to Men is making a difference in our society. Consider making a donation or riding 100 waves with them next year. Put a little gas in the tank of the vehicle that is helping to bring kids back home.