Special Needs Summer Camp – Wrightsville Beach, NC
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    Special Needs Surf Camp in Wrightsville Beach, NC – Indo Jax Surf Charities by Robert B Butler North Carolina Press Release www.RBButler.com w… Read More
    Special Needs Surf Camp in Wrightsville Beach, NC – Indo Jax Surf Charities by Robert B Butler North Carolina Press Release www.RBButler.com www.NCPressRelease.org Read Less
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An interview with Jack Viorel
Founder and Director of IndoJax Surf Charities
Jaylen Stanley with Jack Viorel – Visually Impaired Surf Camp – Courtesy Chris Davis


Jack, tell us your backstory.

Born and raised in California, I was a teacher by trade and a surfer. As a teacher I always felt surfing could build self-esteem in those that needed it, so I often used surfing metaphors and analogies in the classroom to teach academics and life lessons.

At the end of every school year I would invite families to the beach and give the kids a surf lesson as a treat. One year, a girl in a wheel chair named Alex asked if she could go. I said yes, and we gave surfing a try. It was an incredible experience for her to be included in an activity like surfing. Something she never imagined she could do.

Eleven years ago I accepted a teaching position at Saint Mary School in Wilmington and moved across the country to North Carolina. As I became familiar with the warm water and smaller waves on the Carolina coast, I realized I could take the idea of surfing and building self-esteem to a higher level.

There was a program for kids with AIDS at Saint Mary, so I decided to start with those kids. I worked closely with the instructor running the program and we formulated three weeklong camps for about 20 kids, all ages, all born with HIV/AIDS. These were children dying at a young age, ostracized and suffering from very low self-esteem. This was a real test of my theory that surfing could raise self-esteem in special needs children. 

After the first week we knew we were on to something. The kids were stoked and their confidence sky high after doing something they never thought they could. One of the campers had been so ostracized that he had gone off of his medication, essentially committing suicide. After surfing, his mindset changed one-hundred-percent. He went back on his medication, re-enrolled in school and started thinking of his future. His attitude after the camp was about living whatever life he had left, to the fullest. Other kids went back on their medications, some went back to school, and all of them beamed with pride at their accomplishments. To watch that happen was really powerful.

By the following year we were doing surf camps for kids who were blind, had diabetes, orphans, the hearing impaired and autism to name a few. We began working closely with Surfers Healing, the only surf therapy program known at the time for kids with autism. Every year we served more and more children, learned new skills, and developed our own special equipment and methods.

Now, going into our eleventh season, we serve nearly 1,000 kids per year, with most of our camps held in Wrightsville Beach, but also camps in India, Nicaragua, Panama and California.  We continue to work closely with Surfers Healing and other charity programs in the United States and abroad.

We often say, “If I can surf, I can do anything!” It’s an incredible journey to witness how surfing and the ocean can change the lives of others for the better. Having seen so many success stories of children with special needs, we believe that phrase more than ever.

Why Wrightsville Beach?

For one, Wrightsville Beach is a beautiful beach and has fantastic conditions. I think though, the community is what makes it ideal. The surfing community and businesses such as the Blockade Runner Beach Resort are so supportive of our charity work that it makes Wrightsville Beach a perfect location. The surfers and residents at large seem to be motivated to help the less fortunate. I think Wrightsville is a very special place.

How did the charity division of IndoJax begin?

My plan was to operate a for-profit surf school so I would have the necessary infrastructure – instructors, insurance, and equipment – and use the profits to pay for the expenses of the free camp for kids with special needs. I really thought it was going to be a small enterprise, but once the word got out, we were getting calls from everywhere.

After a few years of running it this way, it was clear that the charity was growing faster than the surf school profits. We were going to go out-of-business. So, to keep up with the demand of the free camps, we started IndoJax Surf Charities. Now we can get support from the community, businesses and corporations to keep up with demand.

How many camps do you offer each season?

Ten to twelve.

Who will IndoJax Charities serve with your programs this year?

We serve visually and hearing impaired children, children with cancer, orphan girls in India, the Boys and Girls Club, kids with autism, children in the ACCESS Wilmington program, and wounded warriors. We also have a program in California for children with any special need, and a program in Nicaragua for orphaned or needy children. We also offer a scholarship program for children who want to join our typical surf camps. We support competitive surfers in our community and all of our programs are growing by 10-20% per year.

How many people have participated in the program since inception?

I would guess well over 5,000 children have been served by our programs.

What changes do you see in the children over the course of the camp?

The biggest thing we see is a growth in confidence.  Children generally start our camp with a sense of reluctance, even fear and end with an overwhelming sense of "If I can surf, I can do anything!" Probably the most powerful thing we do is help children get out of their comfort zone, face a little bit of fear, and succeed. This gives them valuable tools for everything else in their lives. We often say it has nothing to do with surfing – surfing is the vehicle we use to walk them through the process of building real self-esteem.

Have you been able to stay in touch with participants over the years and does the surf-camp experience have a lasting impact on their lives?

Yes most of the kids we work with come back each year. They look forward to the next time they surf. Even though most aren't going to become surfers, I think they realize the empowerment surfing gives them. I often hear stories of kids trying new activities because they realize they aren't limited. Our camp teaches them that.  

What is your most gratifying success story?

There are lots of success stories. One that stands out is a kid from our Visually Impaired Surf Camp.  He started the first year we held the camp and returned for several years. He was a good musician and played at some of our fundraising events. He became so accomplished at surfing he was an instructor for a year before heading off to college. Imagine that, a blind surf instructor.  

Have you had a situation where you were unable to make progress with a child?

Not really because we always start wherever the child is in their life. Every child has a different goal and surfing can be a different thing to each person. Some children are working on mobility, others communication. Some are working on their fear. We work on whatever the child needs. We don't have a set agenda. When you do that you can always be successful.

How does the surf-camp experience impact the parents and caregivers?

Typically, parents are impacted the most. Some parents are overly protective of their special needs child and don't let them try new things. Our program teaches them that their child can do a lot of things if just given the opportunity.

How do students register for the camp?

Participants can register via our charity website:  www.indojaxsurfcharities.org

Who are some of your key supporters over the years?

Blockade Runner, Live Oak Bank, United Healthcare, Rapid Cut, Jordan Speith Family Foundation, Hope From Helen.

How can an individual or organization support one of the charity surf camps?

The easiest way is to donate to the specific camp. Our Crowdrise page makes it easy: https://www.crowdrise.com/indojaxsurfcharities  

Spreading the word helps too. Some of our big donors have come from people spreading the word about our program to someone else looking to sponsor something like this.

Where is the need most critical?

The most crucial part of this is funding is for equipment and professional surf instructors. We also need volunteers for some of our bigger camps. One does not need to be a surfer to help.

Is it possible for a family or organization to launch a new camp to help a targeted special needs population?

Yes. Some of our current camps began that way. An organization can help raise the money and organize the families to make a new camp happen. It does take a lot of effort and determination.

Last year, we talked with Eric Stanley, father of 11-year-old Jaylen who is battling Juvenile Batten disease. How is Jaylen and do you expect him to return to surf camp in 2018?

Yes, they are already registered. We cannot wait to see the Stanley family this summer. We have grown close to them and feel they are part of the IndoJax family.

Jack, is there anything you would like to add?

This year we collaborated with Surfers Healing to help build a program in Panama. We are in the process of becoming part of the International Surf Therapy Organization along with Surfers Healing. This is a team effort to help develop programs around the world. The ISTO also sets safety guidelines and other helpful standards for surf therapy programs.

Thank you, Jack. We wish you and your team the best for a successful 2018 season!

Thank you!

Special needs summer camp 
“If I can surf, I can do anything”
Indo Jax Visually Impaired Surf Camp, Courtesy of Jesse Stephenson
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA – “If I can surf, I can do anything,” is the axiom of IndoJax Surf Charities, entering its eleventh year of teaching disadvantaged, medically fragile, and special needs children how to surf.

“It’s an incredible journey to witness how surfing and the ocean can change the lives of others for the better,” said Jack Viorel, founder and director of IndoJax Surf Charities. “We often remind our campers, “If I can surf, I can do anything.” Having seen so many success stories of children with special needs, we believe that phrase more than ever.”

Over the past decade, IndoJax has empowered with higher self-esteem and confidence over 5,000 children facing a variety of hard-life challenges, including visual and hearing impairment, cancer, autism, loss of parents, and other special needs.

“The biggest thing we see is a growth in confidence,” said Viorel in an interview with North Carolina Press Release. “Children generally start our camp with a sense of reluctance, even fear. Probably the most powerful thing we do is help children get out of their comfort zone, face a little bit of fear, and succeed. This gives them valuable tools for everything else in their lives. Surfing is the vehicle we use to walk each student through the process of building real self-esteem.”

Viorel’s organization will offer eleven camps over the next twelve months, all based in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, except one camp each in India, California, and Nicaragua.

“Wrightsville Beach is a beautiful beach and has fantastic conditions,” said Viorel. “The surfing community and businesses such as Blockade Runner Beach Resort are so supportive of our charity work. The surfers and residents seem to be motivated to help the less fortunate. I think Wrightsville Beach is a very special place.”

IndoJax Surf Charities offers the camps at little or no charge to participants. Blockade Runner is hosting and contributing a highlights and awards show in August to help cover surf camp costs. Other key supporters include the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation, United Healthcare, and Live Oak Bank. Donations can be made to specific camps at this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/indojaxsurfcharities  

“There are lots of success stories,” said Viorel. “One that stands out is a kid from our Visually Impaired Surf Camp.  He started the first year we held the camp and returned for several years. He became so accomplished at surfing he was an instructor for a year before heading off to college. Imagine that, a blind surf instructor.”

Parents are heavily impacted by the surf camp experience. “Some parents are overly protective of their special needs child and don't let them try new things. Our program teaches them that their child can do a lot of things if just given the opportunity,” said Viorel.


2018 Surf Camp Schedule

May 29-31: Boys & Girls Clubs – Wrightsville Beach
(In memory of Taylor Epps)
June 12-14: Autism – Wrightsville Beach
(In honor of the Don Bennett family)
June 26-28: Children of Belarus – Wrightsville Beach
July 17-19: Visually Impaired – Wrightsville Beach
July 24-26: Special Needs Children – Cayucos, CA
July 31-Aug 2: Access of Wilmington – Wrightsville Beach
*Aug 20: Surfers Healing – Wrightsville Beach
Aug 14-16: Childhood Cancer – Wrightsville Beach
August: Mauli Ola Foundation for Cystic Fibrosis – Wrightsville Beach
Nov 2018: Nicaragua Outreach
Apr 2019: Surf Safari for Orphan Girls – Kochi, India
*Program assistance


Click here for Accommodations​​​​​​​
Visually Impaired Surf Camp – Courtesy Richard Perry
Contact:
Jack Viorel, Founder and Director
IndoJax Surf Charities
Jack@IndoJaxSurfSchool.com
910-274-3565
Robert B Butler
Communications | PR

Permission granted for redistribution and republishing

#IndoJaxSurfCharities #WrightsvilleBeach #NorthCarolina #SpecialNeeds #VisuallyImpaired #ChildhoodCancer #Autism #SurfersHealing #MauliOlaFoundation #CysticFibrosis #UnitedHealthCare #BlockadeRunnerBeachResort #OprahWinfreyNetwork #TheHeroEffect #LiveOakBank #JordanSpiethFoundation
Visually Impaired Surf Camp – Courtesy Richard Perry
Oprah Winfrey Network to Feature NC Charity on 
August 12
World Premiere in North Carolina 
August 10
Visually Impaired Surf Camp 2017 – Courtesy of Star-News Media
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – The Hero Effect, a one-hour documentary-series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, spotlights North Carolina’s IndoJax Surf Charities on Sat., Aug. 12, at 10 AM. A world premiere and celebration will be in Wrightsville Beach on Thursday, Aug. 10, from 6 ‘til 9 PM, hosted and contributed by Blockade Runner Beach Resort.

Shot on-location in Wrightsville Beach and co-hosted by Super Bowl Champ Donald Driver and actress Emily Wilson, this episode documents a visually impaired surf camp, one in a roster of free camps designed by founder Jack Viorel to build self-esteem and empower medically fragile, special needs, and disadvantaged children.

 The Hero Effect series was made in partnership with United Way Worldwide and shot in ten different communities across the United States. Available in over 80-million homes via OWN, each episode highlights a real-life story, showing the lives of ordinary people making extraordinary differences in their communities.

“IndoJax Surf Charities uses the ocean as a classroom and surfing as a learning tool,” said Viorel. “We believe the ocean has unique healing properties with an ever-changing, unpredictable environment.

“Getting into the ocean and learning to surf, particularly special needs children, is a life-long lesson about stepping out of your comfort zone, into unpredictability, and removing limitations. Everything in life has a bit of fear. We teach the kids that it’s okay to be afraid.

“Our programs build higher self-confidence and teach a system children can apply to any situation or hurdle in the future. They leave with a formula to be more successful, conquer more challenges, and the ability to deal with fear,” said Viorel.

“I encourage anybody thinking about surf camp to go for it,” said Eric Stanley, parent of 11-year old Jaylen, who is unable to see and is courageously battling Juvenile Batten disease. “Jack and his team are great. They’re very patient and know how to work with kids. A parent does not have to worry…”

With programs in North Carolina, California, Nicaragua and India, the IndoJax schedule includes camps specially formatted for autism, visual impairment, childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis, Boys and Girls Clubs, Children of Belarus, the Boys and Girls Home of Lake Waccamaw, inclusion camps, and special needs camps.

In 2017, IndoJax Surf Charities will serve and assist about 1,000 children, at no charge. “We take on the responsibility of raising the money,” said Viorel. “Most families with medically fragile, special needs, or at-risk children are struggling to make ends meet.”

Contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations and corporate sponsors fund the surf camp programs. “United Health Care has supported the program for three years, The Jordan Spieth Foundation came on board last year, and this year Live Oak Bank joined the team,” said Viorel. “Blockade Runner Beach Resort has been a solid supporter.”




Contact:
Jack Viorel, director
IndoJax Surf Charities
Jack@IndoJaxSurfSchool.com
910-274-3565

Robert B Butler
Communications | PR
IndoJax Visually Impaired Surf Camp – Courtesy of Jesse Stephenson
IndoJax Surf Charities
IndoJax Surf Charities
North Carolina Special Needs Charity Gaining Global Attention
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – A small North Carolina charity is gaining global attention for its free programs designed to build self-esteem and empower medically fragile, special needs, and disadvantaged children. Featured in dozens of media including American Way Magazine and TEDx Talks, IndoJax Surf Charities will be the subject of a one-hour special on the Oprah Winfrey Network in August 2017.

IndoJax Surf Charities uses the ocean as a classroom and surfing as a learning tool. “We believe the ocean has unique healing properties with an ever-changing, unpredictable environment,” said founder, Jack Viorel. “Getting into the ocean and learning to surf, especially special needs children, is a life-long lesson about stepping out of your comfort zone, into unpredictability, and removing limitations. Everything in life has a bit of fear. We teach the kids that it’s okay to be afraid.”

“Our programs build higher self-confidence and teach a system children can apply to any situation or hurdle in the future,” said Viorel. “They leave with a formula to be more successful, conquer more challenges, and the ability to deal with fear.”

“I encourage anybody thinking about it to go for it,” said Eric Stanley, parent of 11-year old Jaylen, who is unable to see and is courageously battling Juvenile Batten disease. “Jack and his team are great. They’re very patient and know how to work with kids. A parent does not have to worry – they are one-on-one with the children, working with them and watching all the time.”
Jaylen Stanley with instructor Jack Viorel – Courtesy of Jesse Stephenson
With programs in North Carolina, California, Nicaragua and India, the IndoJax schedule includes camps specifically formatted for autism, visual impairment, childhood cancer, cystic fibrosis, Boys and Girls Clubs, Children of Belarus, the Boys and Girls Home of Lake Waccamaw, inclusion camps, and special needs camps.

IndoJax Surf Charities began when Jack Viorel was a first-grade teacher at Saint Mary’s Elementary in Wilmington, NC. “The school provided a program for kids born with AIDS,” said Viorel. “I thought about taking them surfing, believing this would be good for their self-esteem and physical issues. The program coordinator talked me into running three camps that summer.”

“Prior to surf camp, many of the children with AIDS had stopped taking their medication, knew they were dying, had skin issues, were ostracized, and had low self-esteem,” said Viorel. “By the end of the summer, I knew we were on to something big. The children started to open up, their skin issues improved, many of them went back on their medication, they wanted to surf again and be healthy enough to do it, and started talking about future plans.”

With this success, Viorel retired from his 20-year teaching career and has spent a decade honing and expanding his charity for special needs children.

In 2017, IndoJax Surf Charities will serve and assist about 1,000 children, at no charge. “We take on the responsibility of raising the money,” said Viorel. “Most families with medically fragile, special needs, or at-risk children are struggling to make ends meet.”

The surf camp program is funded by contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations and corporate sponsors. “United Health Care has supported the program for three years, The Jordan Spieth Foundation came onboard last year, and this year Live Oak Bank joined the team,” said Viorel. “Blockade Runner Beach Resort has been a solid supporter.”

The Hero Effect, co-hosted by former Super Bowl Champion Donald Driver and actress/advocate Emily Wilson, will feature IndoJax Surf Charities on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Saturday, August 12, at 10 AM. A premiere showing will be held in Wrightsville Beach on Thursday, August 10, at Blockade Runner Beach Resort. “They’ve donated the ballroom and we’re going to have a big showing,” said Viorel. “This is very exciting for us.”
IndoJax Visually Impaired Surf Camp – Courtesy Chris Davis
2017 Surf Camp Schedule

June 13-15: Autism – Wrightsville Beach
June 27-29: Children of Belarus – Wrightsville Beach
June 28: Autism – Half Moon Bay, CA
*July 6: Mauli Ola Foundation for CF – Wrightsville Beach
July 10-13: Visually Impaired – Wrightsville Beach
July 17-19: Special Needs – Pismo Beach, CA
July 26: Autism – Half Moon Bay, CA
Aug 1-3: Boys and Girls Home of Waccamaw – Wrightsville Beach
Aug 2: Autism – Half Moon Bay, CA
Aug 15-17: Childhood Cancer – Wrightsville Beach
*Aug 21: Surfers Healing – Wrightsville Beach
Nov 2017: Nicaragua Outreach
Apr 2018: India Surf Safari for Orphan Girls
*Program assistance


Contact:
Jack Viorel, director
IndoJax Surf Charities
910-274-3565




Robert B Butler
Communications | PR

To learn more about The Hero Effect:

To learn more about Batten disease:

Permission granted for redistribution and republishing

#IndoJaxSurfCharities #WrightsvilleBeach #NorthCarolina #SpecialNeeds #VisuallyImpaired #ChildhoodCancer #Autism #SurfersHealing MauliOlaFoundation #CysticFibrosis #UnitedHealthCare #BlockadeRunnerBeachResort #OWN #OprahWinfreyNetwork #TheHeroEffect #LiveOakBank #JordanSpiethFoundation #JuvenileBattenDisease
Special Needs Summer Camp – Who is teaching who?
Maddie Ashcraft, summer camp instructor (right)
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – “Some people look at individuals with disabilities and think, ‘Oh, we’re going to have to help them a lot.’ The result is actually the opposite,” said Maddie Ashcraft, seven-year summer camp instructor. Ashcraft says her students have taught her more than she has ever taught them.
 
“Children facing challenges have a lot to give – they are the teachers,” agreed Jack Viorel, Ashcraft’s camp mentor and founder of nonprofit Indo Jax Surf Charities. “With each summer camp, special needs students teach us more about the important things – innovation, persistence, courage to overcome obstacles, joy and laughter, patience and compassion.”
 
Kim Kredich, mom to three children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, describes the summer camps as “so refreshing.”
 
During the weekend of May 25-27, Kredich will bring families from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, for a new and inclusive Indo Jax Surf Charities experience based at Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
 
“Ten of the 27 children coming have disabilities. The other 17 do not. They will learn to surf right alongside each other,” Kredich said.
 
“When we are inclusive and help each other, we all learn and benefit,” said Viorel. “The teachers become the students and the students become the teachers and the world becomes a better place.”
 
Viorel began his teaching career 25 years ago in a classroom with medically fragile, special needs, and at-risk kids. Ten years ago he moved his family to Wilmington, North Carolina and opened a surf school as a means to reach children and open their minds.
Summer camp student with Jack Viorel, founder of Indo Jax Charities, photo courtesy of Jesse Stephenson
Indo Jax Surf Charities
Indo Jax Surf Charities
The new inclusive camp is the first on a summer-long schedule of charity outreach surf camps that will serve — at no cost to the campers — visually impaired, autistic, and hearing impaired individuals, as well as boys and girls club members, wounded soldiers, cancer survivors, and participants with developmental and intellectual challenges.
 
“No one is born with a limiting belief. Limiting beliefs are learned and taught,” said Viorel. “When we stop putting limiting beliefs on a special needs child, the sky is the limit. Our goal is to help a child shed limiting beliefs and uncover their confidence and self-esteem again.”
 
“To find an experience for your kids where you don’t have to do battle, where your kids can relax and learn something new, where — as a parent — you don’t have to wonder whether they’re being taken care of and having a good experience — well, that just doesn’t happen very often,” said Kredich.
 
Kredich said the camps are an important example for schools and other institutions when it comes to inclusion. “If a surf camp can manage full inclusion, nobody else has an excuse to leave anyone out,” she said.
 
In addition to the free special needs summer camps, Viorel includes anyone with disabilities into the regular surf camp schedule with no additional fee. “I’d love it if everyone signed up whenever they wanted to come,” said Viorel. “Right now, though, those special weeks provide peace of mind for families trying this for the first time.”
 
A “Kickoff to Summer” party to help fund the free charity surf camps will be hosted on June 2nd by long-time supporter Blockade Runner Beach Resort. Festivities will include silent auctions, live music, surf camp footage, and more. Indo Jax Surf Charities is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. For event information visit www.indojaxsurfcharities.org.
 
 
2016 Charity Surf Camp Schedule
 
May 25-27: Inclusive Surf Camp
May 31-June 2: Boys and Girls Club
June 14-16: Cancer
June 21-23: Kids from Belarus
July 11-14: Visually Impaired
July 26-28: Hearing Impaired
Aug. 9-11: Waccammaw Home for Boys and Girls
Aug. 24-26: Autism-Aug. 22 is Surfers Healing
Sept. 10:  Wounded Military surf camp
Contact:
Jack Viorel, director
Indo Jax Surf Charities
910-274-3565




Robert B Butler
Communications | PR



Special needs summer camp, photo courtesy Jesse Stephenson
Visually Impaired Surf Camp, courtesy of Indo Jax Charities
Special needs summer camp, Indo Jax Surf Charities, photo courtesy Jesse Stephenson
Indo Jax Surf Charities
Indo Jax Surf Charities
Derek Rabelo of Brazil, visually impaired professional surfer, visits Wrightsville Beach