For the past three summers, RELYance Skim Camp has cruised the lands along the Delmarva coast in search of the best possible surf conditions for their campers.
Now, headed into year No. 4, they’ve landed the right Land Cruiser to cruise those lands in, and for their upcoming summer skim safaris.
“I think it’s pretty sick,” said RELYance camper Jack Lee of the camp’s new 1982 army-style Toyota Land Cruiser, going on to rate past experiences with RELYance a perfect “10/10.” “It’s just so much cooler. Before we were just driving around in SUVs, and everyone was sort of split up. Now everyone’s going to be together in just a really cool way.”
“We wanted to get something big enough where everyone could be together,” said Dave Bracht, who launched RELYance in 2014 with his brother, Tom Bracht. “We were looking for a van or something — then Tom found this.”
After bouncing around ideas about old church vans and school buses, the world-ranked skim-pros (currently ranked 15th and 35th, respectively) actually got the idea for the Aussie army cruiser while on their own surf trip to Nicaragua over the winter.
“We were in Nicaragua on a surf trip, and they were hauling us around in one,” said Dave Bracht. “We said to each other, ‘Yeah, we need to try and find one of these.’”
Eventually stumbling across the right vehicle in Arizona, they had the interior stripped, got the engine checked and started decking it out RELYance-style.
New bench seats were installed in the back, with room for up to 15 skimmers, surf racks courtesy of Atlantic Shoals Surf Shop fastened onto the roof, water-resistant padded floors put in for “ding-proofing” while carrying around boards, and the roof’s interior left blank for the first set of campers to leave their own personal artwork.
Then, after figuring out how to drive from what Americans consider the passenger seat and slapping on some state park surf tags and official RELYance logos, what’s been officially dubbed “Troopy” was ready to roll, just in time for the first camp session, starting June 19.
“People come up and get family pictures in front of it,” said Dave Bracht with a laugh. “Now there’s no waves that we can’t get to.”
“It’s like when you go on a surf trip and they take you to all the best spots to find the best waves. That’s always what you remember,” added Tom Bracht. “It’s just fun the whole time you’re there. There’s really nothing like that on the East Coast, where they can almost guarantee that you’re going to score some waves. So, really, that’s what we’re trying to do. And now we definitely have the equipment to do it.”
As always, there will be plenty of other action at RELYance Skim Camp, including 30 brand-new boards to test out from Exile (both Dave and Tom’s main sponsor).
Throughout the summer, the camp offers something for all ages and experience-levels, with full-day camps, advanced camps, mini-sessions, private skim lessons and surfing lessons, too, and even some non-skim activities and beach games designed to promote positive attitudes in and out of the water.
That’s, of course, all in addition to two weekly “Skim Jam” events, sponsored by Atlantic Shoals and starting Tuesday, June 19, at the beach at the state line in Fenwick Island, and Thursday, June 21, on the beach in front of Garfield Parkway in Bethany Beach, both held from 6 to 7 p.m. throughout the summer, and free and open to the public.
As for Troopy, the new ride for RELYance to rely on just adds to the experience for two brothers still just trying to spread the skim, like they always have.
“At the beginning, we didn’t really think about it growing,” said Dave Bracht. “We were just having fun and helping the kids — that was our main goal. It just kind of kept growing and growing, to the point where we needed to hire people. Now we’ve got this thing. It’s really just awesome. We can’t wait for this summer.”
For more on Dave and Tom and RELYance Skim Camp, or a full schedule of camps, visit www.relyanceskimcamp.com or check out RELYance on Facebook at www.facebook.com/relyanceskimcamp, Instagram (@relyanceskimcamp) or Twitter (@relyanceskimcamp).