Tag Archives: Youth

The Impact of Surfing with STOKED

The Impact of Surfing with STOKED

By Julian Canery, STOKED Alum, Syracuse University ’17

I think that the best moments in life are when you do the unthinkable. I always tell people that I live to see new things and take on new challenges. For me personally, there’s nothing more fulfilling than to live a life filled with spontaneity and adventure. Everyday should be taken with a desire to learn new things, to visit new places, and to make new friends.
If you were to ever ask a young teenager from Brooklyn to hop on a board and surf, smack in the middle of Queens, he’d most definitely look at you like you’re crazy. Coming from an environment surrounded by pavement and concrete, it’s almost unthinkable to envision surfing in New York City. But if you can think it, it’s possible.
I remember being 17 when I first went to Rockaway Beach to surf with STOKED. With that being my first time ever surfing (and my first time ever taking the A train to Far Rockaway for any reason), I didn’t know what to expect. But as out of the loop as I was, I felt nothing but bliss the entire day. I remember seeing STOKED’s surf shack for the first time, and feeling like I wasn’t even in New York City anymore. To this day, surfing with STOKED has been one of the most surreal experiences of my life.


There aren’t many experiences that even come close to learning how to surf for the first time. If you were to ask me, the best part of my surfing experience was the very first time I stepped foot on a surfboard. I remember my heart beating ferociously in excitement — and every time I fell off the board I would run out the water as fast as I could, just to run back in. The very first time I successfully glided across the calm waves, I felt a sense of euphoria – almost as if I was flying. It was unlike anything I’d ever felt before. For those odd moments that I soared across the water, I felt limitless. What also caught my attention as a part of surfing with STOKED were the mentors. They were so patient with me my first time surfing, and there was never a point where I felt shy or nervous around them. Because of the support that my mentors gave me, I was able to focus completely on the board and the waves.

In retrospect, surfing was able to bring out a side of me I never knew existed. I was able to think the unthinkable in that present moment, and for a young Haitian American living in Brooklyn, those moments were so different from my everyday life. Not many people can say that they’ve been surfing, and I haven’t met anyone outside of STOKED that’s been able to say they’ve ever surfed in New York City. I will always have a large amount of respect for STOKED, because they give students the ability to have experiences they wouldn’t normally have in their day-to-day lives.


Snow Mentor 2013

Snow Mentor is a big part of the youth development work we do at STOKED. In fact, Stoked Steve’s first dream for STOKED was to create a snowboard mentor program for inner city youth.

It’s exciting to be living the dream, as STOKED is now entering its eighth year of Snow Mentor!

Snow Mentor is a unique way for Stokers to meet positive role models, get active, and explore their boundaries–both physically and personally–in a safe, supportive community.

If you are 24-years-old or older, and you’re an advanced intermediate to advanced snowboarder, read on to find out more about our Snow Mentor program for disadvantaged youth.

STOKED Los Angeles

All program days fall on Sundays and are full-day commitments. Dates for 2013 are as follows:

Snow Mentor 1: 1/27
Snow Mentor 2:  2/10
Snow Mentor 3:  2/24
Snow Mentor 4:  3/03
Snow Mentor 5:  3/10
Snow Mentor 6: 3/24

What a Program Day Looks Like:

Stoked employees Kat and Charlie will take a bus with roughly 50 Stokers and volunteers to Snow Summit in Big Bear Lake, California, approximately 115 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The normal ratio of adult to Stoker is 1:2 or 1:3.

Stoked Kat and Stoked Charlie will lead the program day, weaving together a life skill — like healthy risk-taking — with the snowboard mentoring. Expect to commit the whole day to the program as we leave downtown LA by 5:45am and return by 6:30pm.

How to Get Involved:

New volunteers must submit an online application by Monday, December 3. Pending approval of application, volunteers must attend orientation on Saturday, December 8. On that date there will be a volunteer core values training for new volunteers at 10am and Snow Mentor Orientation / Simulation at 12pm, both at STOKED Los Angeles “HQ” in downtown LA.

Questions about volunteering in Los Angeles should be directed to Stoked Charlie (charlie@stoked.org).


All program days fall on Saturdays and are full-day commitments. Program dates for 2013 are as follows:

Snow Mentor 1: 1/12
Snow Mentor 2: 1/26
Snow Mentor 3: 2/2
Snow Mentor 4: 2/9
Snow Mentor 5: 2/16
Snow Mentor 6: 3/2

What a Program Day Looks Like:

We fill a bus with about 54 Stokers, mentoring pairs, and volunteers and drive 2.25 hours north of the city to Belleayre Mountain in the Catskills. 

STOKED has a Snow Barn at Belleayre, which was generously donated by the Young Family Foundation. The Snow Barn houses all of our snow equipment. Mentors are welcome to use our gear but may also bring their own. A typical day kicks off with a theme that applies to life and snowboarding. Throughout the day, we explore the theme (past examples are overcoming obstacles, reflection, and friendship) and of course, we snowboard! The normal ratio of adult to Stoker is 1:2 or 1:3.

We’re looking for certain items to be donated, which are men’s boots sizes 9-12, bindings, and snow pants.

How to get involved:

New volunteers must fill out our online application. Applications are due no later than Monday, December 3. Pending approval, volunteers will be invited to our mandatory orientation on Tuesday, December 11, from 7pm-8pm at the STOKED New York office in Dumbo, Brooklyn.

Questions about volunteering in New York should be directed to Stoked Lily (lily@stoked.org).

If you now find yourself thinking ‘This is awesome! I’ll join and get to it soon,’ make sure to submit your application! Our youth are ready to hit the slopes and make things happen, so sign up to be a Snow Mentor today. It’s going to be a great season.

Parent/Youth FAQs

Who are the kids and where do they come from?

Our kids come from one of our partnering high-schools. Some of them are at risk of dropping out of school, getting into trouble, doing drugs and possibly getting pregnant. Most of them live in low-income neighborhoods and come from single parent households.

How are the kids picked?

They must complete an application, be interviewed by our Program Manager, attend all Mentee trainings, complete all assignments given to them, obtain a teacher recommendation letter and be approved by their parents.

Are old are the kids?

They must be in high school and range from 13-19 years old.

How can I get my kid to become a part of Stoked?

They must attend one of our partnering high-schools in NYC or Los Angeles. If you’re high school is interested in partnering with in New York email: newyork @ stokedmentoring.org or los angeles@ stoked mentoring.org.

What is the mission of Stoked?

Stoked’s mission is to develop Successful Teens with Opportunity, Knowledge, Experience, and Determination through action sports and mentoring.