At STOKED, we’re fortunate to work with a lot of great brands and one that always goes out of its way to create memorable experiences for our students is Vans. Whether through product donations, providing a panel for a brand presentation, office tours, or giving us VIP access to events, we can always count on them to show us a great time.

Last week was no different when they invited us to be the guests of honor at the 2017 Vans US Open of Surfing.

We stated our day in Huntington Beach with art in the sand. The students created their own pro shoe design with Stu Smith and canvas bags with Greg “pnut” Galinski. After everyone created their pieces, we got some lunch and sat down for a mentoring session with Kristy Van Doren and a diverse group of employees from Vans.

We quickly learned that the most important assets to Vans are it’s people. In fact, at Vans you’re not just an employee, but you are family. As each person shared about their job, they exuded passion and positivity. The biggest take away the kids learned was how important it is to love what you do.

After an inspiring session, we were invited to check out the bowl, not just from the stands, but from the surface. We were encouraged to take a lap around the edge while a few skateboarders practiced for their competition later in the week. It was really cool to experience just how gnarly it was! From there, we went to the VIP area enjoying the surf competition from the best seats in the house.

We ended the day at the Vans retail store which was a real, functioning retail store built on the beach as it is every year for the US Open of Surf. Students learned about retail operations and the opportunities available at the retail level by the managers of the store. The cherry on top of an epic day was being surprised with gift certificate for a brand new pair of Vans. All of us were able to choose our favorite pair while we were in the store and take them home with us.

The whole day was a treat! I am so grateful for Jenny at Vans who planned and spent the day for us and that I was able to be apart of it for the second year in a row. Thanks Vans!

Katie Ferraro