About the Program
Our week-long program is an epic, life-changing adventure for our military and veterans. Bringing our participants directly to our programs within supportive coastal communities and exposing them to the healing power of the ocean.
During this all-inclusive rehabilitative program, large steps of healing occur for injured military men and women from all over the nation – including addressing deep grief by honoring fallen brothers and sisters, learning to build trust with new people, and accomplishing goals.
Each element of our program is an opportunity to promote wellness and introduce new tools and resources to our military & veteran community. The week consists of two days of travel and four days of adaptive surfing. Additional activities include pre/post-peer-to-peer support, a powerful opening blessing, daily yoga, mindfulness, group meals, nightly ‘Recap Reel,’ a closing award ceremony, and a healing paddle out to honor fallen heroes.
Applications for this program are not currently available to the general public. For the application and selection process this year, we are collaborating with a number of other entities and organizations. In 2024, we hope to have an open application process. Please check out our other programs for opportunities to get involved.
- March 12th-17th, 2023 (Santa Cruz)
- April 17th-22nd, 2023 (Central Coast)
- August 2023 13th-18th (Central Coast)
- December 2023 3rd-8th (Central Coast)
- *dates subject to change*
Frequently Asked Questions
What is included with the program?
The week-long program is all-inclusive for new participants. Participants receive world-class surf instruction, delicious food, luxurious hotel accommodations, travel assistance, peer-to-peer support, and all the resources needed to instill hope and confidence in the water, on the board, and into their daily life.
These are all provided at no cost and are funded through generous financial and in-kind contributions from our sponsors and donors.
What are the criteria to participate?
- Active Duty, Active Reservists, or Honorably Discharged Veteran of the U.S Armed Forces
- Service-Connected Injury (Visible or Invisible)
- Post 9/11*
- 1 or more deployments*
- Military Sexual Trauma Survivor (MST)*
- Complete application process
- Meet minimum essay length requirements
- Available for Entire Week-long program
- *Not required, but higher priority
What if I don’t get selected? Can I apply to multiple program locations?
The limited capacity allows for 8 participants per week-long program. There is a waitlist for interested applicants that are not selected. We encourage you to keep applying.
We highly recommend joining The Canteen as well when you apply to any of our programs. It gives you (and us) the opportunity to get to know you and begin the connection prior to attending our program.
Can I apply if I have participated in an Operation Surf program already?
Our week-long programs are only open to new applicants but there are several alumni opportunities available throughout the year that support ongoing care for our Alumni. Stay connected for all 2023 Alumni opportunities!
What if I don’t live in California near the program locations?
The week-long program is all-inclusive and you will be provided travel to the specified program location.
What accessibility accommodations are available for my condition?
The safety, comfort, and enjoyment of our veterans are of utmost importance to us. ADA rooms and shower benches are available upon request. Beach wheelchairs are available to assist with transporting in the sand.
Participants may bring their service animals if necessary. Please let us know if you will be traveling with a service animal so that we can make the necessary accommodations that keep both you and your service animal comfortable.
What is expected of participants during the day?
We have experienced staff and support that are here to accommodate you and any day-to-day challenges that may arise. However, we do ask that you participate in all elements of the program.
View a sample schedule for the week-long program.
Can I bring my family with me during the week-long program?
The curriculum of our week-long program is specifically tailored to military members only. We provide an opportunity for families to connect virtually and join us in our daily ‘Recap Reel’ where we share the day’s highlights and photography.
We also offer additional programs that involve families including our local three-month program, OS3.0, in San Luis Obispo, CA.
“This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Lifetime memories and bonds were made. This wasn’t just a surfing trip, for me this was a group of people fighting individual battles coming together, sharing experiences and unconditional love. I’m leaving with more confidence in myself than I came with.”
“I am so grateful and humbled to have had the experience and met the people I have met. The healing powers of the ocean should never be taken lightly or for granted. This experience changed me, and I couldn’t be more thankful than I am right now!”
“I had decided to check surfing off my bucket list and after I got back I was going to kill myself. While I was at Operation Surf there was this sense of peace that came over me and I realized my life wasn’t mine to take. If something like surfing can bring peace to my life then I should live on and try to help as many other veterans as possible.”