San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Local Kids Ride Free in Northern Pacific Beach Town

Costa Rican children are finally getting their chance to surf for free after years of resorting to broken pieces of lumber.

Surf shop owner Chris Foerster has established a nonprofit foundation in the northern Pacific beach town of Sámara, on the NicoyaPeninsula, to help raise money for Tico kids in need of surfboards.

“Day after day, these kids sit and watch tourists surf, but they never have the opportunity themselves,” says Foerster, 43. “They build boards out of discarded wood and sometimes trade fresh fish and lobster for a chance to ride on a real board. It’s sad that finances are depriving these children of one of life’s greatest pleasures.”

Last month, Foerster and his staff at C & CSurfSchool provided a day of free lessons to the children of Sámara. In addition, C & C donated all the proceeds from rentals, repairs and tours to this worthy cause.

The event not only exposed children to the sport but also educated them on how to use boards responsibly. More than 100 children turned up for the charity benefit, experiencing for the first time how it felt to walk on water.

C & C’s ultimate goal is to raise $2,000 to allow all local kids to surf for free. Any additional donations will go toward the purchase of board shorts and rash guards for Sámara’s youth.

“We will operate the project on a library system,” Foerster explains. “Kids who maintain a B average in school can check out boards during their free time.”

As an added incentive, C & C Surf Shop will provide boards, repairs, wax and daily beach transport.

Foerster, who launched Sámara’s first surf shop in May 2004, has also been an advocate for environmental awareness. His volunteer programs promote beach cleanup, recycling programs and several projects to save Costa Rica’s native matapalo tree. Foerster also recommends that tourists donate their used boards to Tico children rather than sell them back to his surf shop.

A native of the U.S. state of Colorado, Foerster says his grass-roots efforts were put into action shortly after he moved to Costa Rica in 1994.With help from his wife Janice, Foerster operates Sámara’s leading surf school, repair shop and tour company.

The couple also owns 20 luxury cabinas that overlook the breathtaking coastline. Despite his personal success, Foerster says his priority these days is sharing his passion for surfing.

Thanks to the response to the first charity event, Foerster planned to hold a second “Día de los Niños” in Sámara Sept. 2. To encourage local participation, Foerster extended an invitation to all the children of the regional elementary schools on the NicoyaPeninsula.

“Costa Rica has more than enough waves to go around,” Foerster says. “All we need now are a few boards to share with the next generation.”

For more information, contact Foerster at, or visit C & C Surf Shop in Sámara.


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