Thompson Rivers University

Surf’s up for Adventure students

  Posted on: May 26, 2016


TRU Adventure Studies students can now become professionally certified surf instructors.

As a result of Sharman Learie’s passion and vision for adventure sport education, TRU Adventure Studies students now have the opportunity to become certified International Surf Association (ISA) surf instructors right here in BC.

The ISA is the global governing body for the sport and is the organization that petitioned the International Olympic Committee to get surfing into the Olympics.

This marks the first time the ISA surf instruction course has been offered in Canada.

Learie, a longtime faculty member in the adventure studies department, has worked diligently for five years with the ISA and its Canadian counterpart—the CSA (Canadian Surfing Association)—to facilitate the course offering.

“It took a few years to get the momentum going and we didn’t want to rush into it. We wanted it to be successful and wanted to get it right,” said Learie, noting that while there are Canadian surf instruction courses, they are not ISA-affiliated.

The ISA brings an internationally-formalized surf education standard into the mix.

“Because the TRU Adventure Studies program is known as offering a high level of professional guide training, we wanted to go above and beyond the industry standard and offer the best surf instruction training in terms of the education component,” said Learie.

The inaugural six-day course, held in Tofino, BC, in April, pulled together a lot of moving pieces, explains Learie.

In addition to having enough students registered for the course, since it was the first time the course was offered, TRU instructors also needed training on how to teach the course, plus a few external individuals had to become ISA-certified examiners.

Catherine Bruhwiler of Tofino Paddle Surf is one of the new ISA examiners. Bruhwiler has long been involved with the TRU surfing courses and her business will host of the annual surf instructor course.

“It’s very exciting to be on the forefront of professionalizing the surf instruction industry in Canada, and to be a part of the first wave of certified instructors,” she said.

All in all, eight students, four TRU instructors and three external individuals from the surfing community received their respective skills training from Sean Brody, an industry-leading surf instructor at the Surf Education Academy in San Diego, who flew up to Tofino for the event.

Capacity for the surf instructor course is 12 and will be offered every April in Tofino. The course—Ocean Surfing 3–follows the prerequisites skills courses of Ocean Surfing 1 and 2.

Learie is also chair of the newly-formed CSA education committee, which was struck as part of the entire initiative. The committee will act as a liaison to the ISA education committee.

Meanwhile, first-year adventure students are currently wrapping up various three-week expeditions, part of their curriculum for the month of May. The trips include surfing in Haida Gwaii, sea kayaking from Kitimat to Bella Bella, ocean sailing from Port Hardy to Kitimat, back-country skiing on the Waptaa and Columbia ice fields, white water kayaking on the Hood River in Oregon, and rock climbing in Yosemite.

Check out this drone video highlighting TRU Adventure Studies field activities, shot and produced by recent adventure studies graduate Raphael Boudreault-Simard.

For more information:
Sharman Learie