Stand up and ride | Kalama Kamp | Providenciales, Turks & Caicos | Marisa Findlay | Turks & Caicos Lifestyle Portrait & Boudoir Photographer

Stand up and ride | Kalama Kamp | Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Last October 2014 I took part in the Kalama Kamp hosted by Big Blue Unlimited in Providenciales, Turks & Caicos.  It was an incredible experience – life changing really.  I have written about it and the article is featured in the Spring 2015 Turks & Caicos Magazine.  I’m sharing it with you today along with some of my images (and some taken by Philip Shearer).

“If you wipe out on the wave take a deep breath before you go under.”

The words of Philip Shearer from Big Blue Unlimited echoed in my head as I paddled out with wobbling knees to catch my first wave on the reef.

“Make sure to fan out like a starfish, go limp, relax and surrender to the wave. Don’t try to kick out or resist being held down because the ocean is stronger and the reef is right beneath you.”

With the conscious responsibilities of a mother, I had signed up for a six day Kalama Kamp thinking I would just be learning stand up paddle board techniques, however in that moment I realized it was so much more. This was a camp about smashing my beliefs about both my mental and physical ability, redefining my limits, learning efficient paddle technique, experiencing extreme gratitude, and most importantly discovering a new lifestyle on the ocean.

Despite growing up in land locked Zambia I was a strong swimmer, but the ocean was not a place that I was familiar with let alone felt confident in or on and that was something I wanted to change. By the end of the week I saw the ocean and the sport with new eyes and respectful confidence thanks to the loving guidance of three fantastic instructors – Dave Kalama, John Denney and Philip Shearer.

I was further inspired by the changes I witnessed in my fellow campers as they explored the boundaries of their own comfort levels. We were a group with various levels of experience in the sport, both men and women ranging in age from our 20s to 60s. Yet each of us walked away with more than new skills and an appreciation for this extremely simple yet incredibly diverse form of water transport. We each grew personally and took away lasting memories.

Dave’s understanding of efficient paddling technique and his skillful ability to transfer this knowledge enabled me to cover distances and mount challenges I never thought were in my reach. Technique sessions, analyzing footage of our paddle technique, as well as exposure to various conditions from flat water to waves left me with a well-rounded feel for the sport.

Despite the butterflies and wobbly legs when I attempted to catch my first wave, Dave and John’s presence by my side, voicing encouragement and offering useful feedback made me feel safe and trusting. With each wipeout, of which there were many, I learnt what to do and each time my confidence expanded that little bit more.

Taking part in an extremely long down winder was definitely a highlight of the week! As I took in the breathtaking scenery on the two hour journey, Dave’s ability to paddle up and down wind, teaching as he went along and then still managing to race the more experienced campers blew me away.

John is a performance coach and sports psychologist and his contribution to the camp was key for the lessons I needed to learn. His HeartMaths techniques and constant reminders to be grateful (we even did ‘gratitude squats’ in the morning beach workout!), smile often and emphasis on the importance of being in the present moment stuck with me. I find myself pausing to take a ‘reset breath’ often throughout the day. It makes me a better mother, a better wife and ultimately a better person.

There was no wiping the big grin off my face as I soaked up the atmosphere at Chinsons Grill Shack, as we ended the camp sharing jerk chicken with new friends after a long day on the ocean.

Now every time I step onto the board I am filled with a sense of gratitude – full moon sessions in the flat waters of the mangroves, afternoons with my three year old perched on the front of my board spotting baby sharks and a picnic strapped to my husband’s back while we paddle off on an adventure.

If you want to redefine your limits and experience the magic of the stand-up lifestyle you can sign up for the camp on 11-17th October, 2015.



  1. STAND UP AND RIDE!! HOW EXCITING! SO MUCH FUN! ALL THE PICTURES ARE STUNNING, OUT OF THIS WORLD! hope we can have the opportunity to see this paradise sometime soon. lots of love Sandy x

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