SANDBRIDGE — A surf club at a church a block and a half from the ocean seemed like a natural fit to Steve Joyner, youth director at Sandbridge Community Chapel United Methodist Church.
Joyner, who started the Sandbridge Chapel Surf Club in 2012, said he wanted to integrate community and church life.
The club started with 10 or 12 young people, and it has grown to more than 50 on some days – though attendance can sometimes be influenced by the waves.
John Mactavish, one of the group’s original members, said he tries to attend every Saturday.
“”It’s such a great group,” the Kellam High School student said. “Everybody gets out in the water together and shares waves. It’s a lot of fun.”
Bill Stanford, a surfer who brings his two daughters to the beach on Saturday mornings to participate, said it’s a way for his girls to interact with other good kids.
“We have a surf session, and Steve then does a little sermon,” the Lago Mar dad said. “It’s a good, well-rounded family activity.”
The club meets every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m., even if the ocean is flat, according to Steve Joyner’s wife, Emily Joyner, who helps with the club.
The only time the activity is officially canceled is if the lifeguards have posted a red flag. Club members can always check the status for the day by checking the club’s Facebook page.
All surfers or potential surfers are welcome. They don’t have to attend the chapel. Occasionally they get visitors from other churches.
“This is our ministry,” Steve Joyner said. “All are welcome.”
However, children must be at least 12 when the club starts in June each year, if the parent wants to leave them on the beach for the meeting. Younger children are encouraged to participate, but the parent must remain while the club is in session.