Surfing, Yoga and Art in Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica

what’s this all about?

We are in the midst of developing an exciting new family retreat in beautiful Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica, that offers yoga, surfing, nature tours and the opportunity to participate in a community mural painting! This partnership between Bodhi Surf School, The WholeMe! Programs and Art with Meaning is a way of strengthening community and family bonds through fun, holistic activities! The first week-long retreat is being planned for December 2012. My wife Brigitta, a master’s level and registered Dance Movement Therapist, and certified Children’s Yoga Teacher, is the founder of The WholeMe! Programs, which serves to nurture and support young children’s social, emotional and physical development through yoga and the expressive arts.

Bodhi Surf and Art With Meaning

Now let’s take a step back. How is Art with Meaning and WholeMe! Programs connected to Bodhi Surf School, anyway? Here’s the story:

I met my friend Travis Bays, founder of Bodhi Surf School, in 2006 as a newly arriving Community Economic Development Adviser as part of Peace Corps Costa Rica. Travis was then a part of the same program and had already been in Costa Rica for a year, in his assigned community (and future permanent home) of Uvita, Costa Rica. We actually met my first day there during orientation! In succeeding years we stayed in touch through professional development trainings and other Peace Corps related events.

Over the course of two years in my community of La Cruz de Abangares, Guanacaste (near Monteverde), I worked on several sustainable economic development initiatives, one of which was establishing ECC La Cruz, a locally-owned and operated community credit bank. Travis was key in helping me to start this community bank project with his micro-credit connections in Costa Rica!

After a few months around town in La Cruz, it became known that I was also an artist. Before long, neighbors were requesting that I put my artistic skills to use! I first painted a few signs for La Campesinita, a small marmalade-producing business, to use at tourism fairs. I later painted a custom sign for a neighbor’s farm. However, I soon thought of my own ideas and began a mural project to beautify the local school! On the front of the school, the students and I painted several cultural symbols and the phrase “Orgullosamente Guanacasteco,” or “Proudly Guanacastecan.” On the side, we painted the flags of Guanacaste and Costa Rica. The largest mural is a world map with every country in the world in Spanish. On the sides are inspirational quotes. This map was a hit, as we used it to learn geography through contests and trivia games!

This artwork helped brighten up the community landscape, connected to the local culture and was even used for educational purposes. Heck, if you search Flickr for “La Cruz de Abangares,” someone even posted a picture of the school murals here. Although I hadn’t coined the phrase yet, this truly was “art with meaning.” In my remaining months in La Cruz, I also painted a mural on the side of the local pulpería, or general store, depicting the owner’s farm and his favorite animals.

Upon returning to the States and moving to the Washington, DC area, I began working for the micro-credit loan program of the Latino Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), a non-profit which operates community-building programs in the DC region. Word of my artwork got around my new workplace, as I did a few commissioned pieces for co-workers, and was even commissioned by LEDC to paint three large murals for display in their office! Since then, I’ve continued to enjoy creating custom, meaningful artwork for others through Art with Meaning!

Personalized Surf Art

Travis and I reconnected recently and decided to create a partnership between Art with Meaning, Bodhi Surf School and Grupo SURF. Born out of this idea came “Inner Surfer Art”, which is custom-made, personalized artwork of Bodhi Surf School visitors! Ten percent of all sales are contributed to Grupo SURF, also founded by Travis, which empowers the youth of Bahia Ballena in the sustainable development of their communities through literacy, technology, surfing, and yoga programs. Inner Surfer Art provides clients with uniquely personal and beautiful artwork to decorate their home with, and to preserve the memory of their Bodhi Surf Camp experience.

Art with Meaning, WholeMe! Programs, Bodhi Surf School and Grupo SURF are excited to continually strengthen our partnerships and provide educational, holistic family retreats along with beautiful artwork!

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