Relyance Skim Camp sets up for summer season
Local pro skimboarders and brothers Dave and Tom Bracht have faith. They have faith in themselves as professional athletes. They have faith in each other as brothers and best friends. And they have faith in the mission of Relyance Skim Camp.
This past weekend, that faith paid off, when they successfully put on their first-ever session of the instructional skim camp.
“Honestly, this past weekend could not have gone any better,” said Dave Bracht, the older of the two brothers. “I seriously think some of them might have had the best day of their life.”
A total of 17 kids from a Pennsylvania-based church youth group made the journey to the Delaware shore, just to learn how to skim like the Bracht brothers.
“We were worried about the water being super cold,” said Tom Bracht regarding Atlantic temperatures that still have a ways to go in terms of warming up before summer. “Believe it or not, me and Dave were colder than any of the kids. They spent more time in the water — they were even swimming and bodysurfing.”
The group had booked the session after both Dave and Tom were invited to speak at their youth group this past winter. The kids ranged in their experience with skimboarding, but as they will throughout the summer, the Brachts instructed everyone accordingly.
“If you’ve never skimmed, we’ll start teaching the basics of how to ride the waves,” Dave said of the more novice Relyance campers.
“We’re running an advanced camp, too,” Tom added. “It’s going to be different than our regular camp. We get more in depth with how to really improve their game.”
While the group from Pennsylvania marked the camp’s first weekend session, Relyance has yet to undergo a weekly session, which will run a little bit differently.
From Monday through Friday, campers will get to the beach around 9 a.m. for a light stretch before the pros separate them up into groups based on experience and start teaching. After the morning skim session, they’ll break for lunch, during which Dave and Tom will speak to them about things beyond skimming over pizza or subs.
“While they’re eating lunch, we’ll talk to them — teach them something about life or the ocean, more toward confidence-building,” Tom explained, highlighting the camp’s focus on helping kids not only become better skimmers, but better people.
After the talk, it’ll be back out in the water for an afternoon skim, before breaking for some beach games, such as kickball and inflatable bowling, before calling it a day. That will be the usual schedule for Monday through Thursday, but on Friday, their parents are invited to see what the kids have learned.
“Friday’s going to be a little different than Monday through Thursday,” Tom said. “We invite the parents to come — my dad’s going to be barbecuing. It’s a good opportunity for parents to see what their kids learned and just have a fun-filled day at the beach.”
While one week is already booked this summer, there are still plenty of spots left for skimmers of all levels to sign up, at www.relyanceskimcamp.com. And despite the lack of certainty that those spots will eventually fill up, the brothers are going on hiatus from their full-time jobs to be able to do what they love — again, relying on faith that it will all work out the way that it’s supposed to.
“I’m really proud of what we’re trying to build and everything that we stand for — the beliefs and morals behind what we’re trying to do,” said Dave of the ultimate mission. “There’s really nothing that I would rather be doing than doing this.”
“It’s definitely not for the money. It’s definitely because we love doing what we love doing,” Tom added. “It’s a big leap of faith. We’re just hoping that everything works out.”
Even in its early stages, the Relyance mission has already drawn notice from local businesses with similar beliefs and goals, including Fenwick Island-based surf shop Atlantic Shoals.
“One of their main goals is they want to give back to the community,” Dave explained of how the shop got involved. “When we were telling them what we were doing, they fell in love with the idea.”
The plan is to have Dave and Tom demo boards on a set night of the week and invite local youths to join in and test different boards, as well.
“We’re working out the kinks about doing a demo night one night a week,” Tom explained. “We’ll have a bunch of Exile skimboards. We’re going to be skimming so people can see what these boards can do.”
Similarly, the brothers are hoping that other businesses that want to give back will join them, as well — whether it be providing lunch for the kids or suggesting other ways to help the cause.
“Yeah — we could win a bunch of [skimboarding] contests, but at the end of the day, when you look back at ‘What have I really done?’ helping kids is what it’s all about,” Tom said, putting the Relyance mission in perspective, “helping someone else enjoy what we have come to enjoy.”
To sign up for Relyance Skim Camp or contact Dave or Tom, head to www.relyanceskimcamp.com. You can also find out more on Facebook at www.facebook.com/relyanceskimcamp and on Instagram, @RelyanceSkimCamp.