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The Ocean Guardian


2015 Bodhi Initiatives

What is Bodhi Surf


We are a surf and yoga company who, in 2015, celebrated five years of being in business. Over the years, we have grown from a
dream shared by four individuals to a thriving small business that today provides full-time employment to three members of our
community and, proudly shares our love and knowledge of surfing, yoga, our community, and the environment with a multitude of
people from around the world.

Mission: To provide memorable travel experiences that facilitate learning through exposure to the people and
environment of the place we call home.
But what is Bodhi Surf really? What do its owners and staff stand for? How do we use our position as a surf and yoga camp to make
a positive difference in the world we live in? And more importantly, why do we feel a responsibility to do so?
Read on to get the answers to these questions!

Table of Contents

Bodhi Surf is a Tourism Operator..5

Bodhi Surf is an Educator.13
Bodhi Surf is an Environmental Steward25
Bodhi Surf is an Active Community Participant32
Bodhi Surfs Notable Partnerships..46
Bodhi Surfs Goals & Vision for the Future59

Bodhi Surf School is a

Tourism Operator

Tourism is our livelihood Bodhi Surf School is a tourism-based business that services
hundreds of visitors annually through our surf and yoga camps, our single surf and
yoga classes, and our Special Interest Groups.

Why responsible tourism is important to us

Bodhi Surf School is dependent on the well-being of our community as well as our terrestrial
and marine ecosystems after all, it is the vast beauty of our environment and the cultural
richness of our community that attract these visitors in the first place! For that reason, we have
a vested interest in ensuring the health of these entities and encouraging others to do the
same. Additionally, we feel that we are in the position to provide a unique educational
opportunity to our patrons and encourage them to implement some of these responsible
practices at home post-visit.

Responsible business can have a positive net

effect on our community and our environment

We know firsthand that being a responsible business is highly conducive to great and lasting success.
Why? Because a responsible business, by definition, is one that reinvests in the very entities upon which
it depends not just to maintain them, but in many cases, to make them better. This ensures continuity,
growth, and improvement.
Bodhi Surf School measures its success in how many people we are able to positively effect that is,
our influence in our local and global communities.
Locally, we take great pride in helping to maintain what makes this community so special, while also
being a force for positive change:
In October of 2015, Bodhi Surf School officially contracted three community members with full-time
Through our Service and Surf Saturday program, we continued to work with an average of eight local
youth, helping to empower them through surfing while also highlighting the importance of collectively
taking care of our home and livelihood.

Globally, we use our influence as a business that, in 2015, hosted 110 international
visitors, to highlight the importance of impact reduction:
We facilitate positive experiences in nature with surfing and yoga, and then
underscore the duty for each of us to protect what [we] love.
Over 250 people have pledged to become Ocean Guardians and to take
concrete steps to reduce their impact on the planet and the oceans.

Does responsible tourism have the

ability to change behavior?

For many years now, weve seen signs that point to this powerful thesis: nature-based
experiences lead to long-term, pro-environmental behavior change. We have discovered
that this is true for our own guests, and have thus been compelled to incorporate this idea
into our surf and yoga teaching methodologies and the framework for our week-long
camps. We have come across literature and have connected with academics who have
introduced us to concepts that are at the forefront of the branch of the conservation
movement. So we happen to be at a very interesting time and place: where the
outdoor tourism industry and the conservation movement intersect.


Skidmore Global Leadership Adventures

Case Study

One group that visits multiple locations in Costa Rica each year is Global Leadership Adventures
(GLA). Their program Protecting the Pacific is dedicated to marine conservation and other
ocean related environmental issues and allows students work hand in hand with community
members on projects such as reforestation, beach clean-ups, and GPS mapping of highly
polluted areas. Using these students as subjects, Dr. Andrew Schneller, a professor and
researcher from Skidmore College, surveyed the students pre, intra-program, and post program
to determine if this program does indeed encourage pro-environmental behavior change.

Penn State Bodhi Surf Case Study

We mentioned in a past monthly roundup blog post that there was an opportunity to participate in a study that
investigates the long-term effects of nature-based tourism and to see if there is any behavior change when it comes
to pro-environmental tendencies. Specifically, studying Bodhi Surfs past guests and their experiences with our
week-long surf and yoga camps. Researcher Dr. Carter A. Hunt of the Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at
Penn State University, is spearheading this study, and this excerpt comes from the studys official abstract:
In collaboration with Bodhi Surf School, researchers from Penn States Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism
Management will study the pro-environmental behavior of travelers following their nature-based tourism experience
in Uvita-Bahia Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica.
This study will take two approaches to assessing the ways that new behaviors, advocacy, and activism in favor of
environmental conservation result from week-long instructional surf and yoga experiences inside a national marine


This research will be of equal interest to practitioners operating activity-based forms of nature-based tourism
enterprises and researchers interested in pro-environmental outcomes of tourism.

Bodhi Surf is an Educator

Tourism to natural destinations is an educational opportunity. According to a paper released by

Science Daily in 2015, the worlds national parks and reserves receive eight billion visits annually,
and a large part of those visitors participate in nature-based activities. Outdoor tourism
operators have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to not only provide memorable experiences, but
also facilitate educational experiences that may help to create lasting behavior change in
13 their patrons and guests.

Our Unique Teaching Methodology

Our goal as a surf school is to to form responsible, independent surfers who are not
only skilled in the sport, but also have a heightened awareness and sensitivity towards
the environment in which the sport is practiced. We have designed a unique teaching
methodology based on the Circle of Courage, a teaching model designed for at-risk
youth, which has proven very effective. Within the five surf lessons included in our
Bodhi Sessions, we are able to touch upon each of the four phases.



1. Belonging / Attachment

In this phase, we help our guests get their bearings, teaching a little of surfings history, some
of its culture, a lot about the necessary equipment, and where we have the privilege of
learning to surf. It is in this phase that people typically have many doubts and fears: about
the ocean, about their abilities, etc. and it is in this phase that we hope to help them
become comfortable. Easing into the surf world gradually versus diving right in helps people
achieve personal success in later lessons.

2. Mastery / Achievement

This is the phase that we spend the most time on, giving the crucial knowledge and
practicing with the goal of developing skills, with lots of feedback integrated. We have
strayed away from the model that many surf schools follow, in which we do all the dirty
work (choosing the waves and pushing students into them) and our guests just get to do
the fun part (catching waves). Why? Because while some aspects of surfing arent as fun as
others carrying your surfboard longer distances, turtle rolling they are necessary to
master in order to become competent enough to surf without an instructor.



3. Independence / Autonomy

This is the ultimate goal for our students as surfers: to ensure that they surf safely, and
successfully, on their own. In order to do that, as instructors, we facilitate a safe space for our
students to make their own choices based on predetermined personal surfing goals while still
maintaining a level of supervision.

4. Generosity / Altruism

This phase is actually dispersed throughout the others, but we consider it the most important
phase for Bodhi Surf the business and the individuals that comprise it. The theme of What
makes a surfer is woven throughout the curriculum. We teach that, even more important
than standing up on your surfboard, having a long ride, or riding a big wave, is how you use
your position as someone who utilizes the ocean for the purposes of diversion. For the
surfers of Bodhi Surf School, that is everything that encompasses our Ocean Guardian
Journey. For our guests, we hope it is signing the Ocean Guardian Pledge and starting
their own journeys to impact reduction and caring for the ocean and the earth.


Our yoga teaching methodology is not revolutionary, though it is increasingly unique in

a day and age when yoga has become a workout routine rather than what it was truly
intended to be: a practice that connects the mind, body, and spirit.


A more traditional path

Our teaching follows a more traditional path, guiding students through the asanas or postures in
a way that does indeed push the body, but more importantly, brings the focus back inward on the
mind. In order to accomplish this, we emphasize the following:
Multi-level classes in order to accommodate different levels, allowing newer practitioners to
master basic postures and advanced yogis to deepen their practice
Going back unceasingly to the zenith of the practice: the breath
Bringing yoga philosophy into every class, addressing the human condition in this modern world:
our shared struggles and triumphs, the important connections between our minds and bodies
and ourselves and our environment, and awareness of the power of our thoughts,
21 intentions, and actions



In late 2015, we launched our Ocean Guardian Digest email campaign for signees of the
Ocean Guardian Pledge. These monthly emails provide tips and resources for individuals
who are looking to reduce their impact on the ocean and the planet as a whole. Having had
the opportunity to do a great deal of research ourselves, as well as being connected to
many different environmental organizations and movements across the globe, we finally
took the time to consolidate all of this information for our guests and anyone who may be
interested. Emails consist of short videos, links to articles and organizations, and action
steps that range from easy for anyone to highly committed to ensuring the wellbeing of
the planet.

Special Interest Groups

As part of the facilitating learning aspect of our Mission, Bodhi Surf School has worked with Special
Interest Groups (high school, college, and private groups visiting the area on service learning trips) since
our inception in 2010. In 2015, we worked with 284 students from nine such groups which included
Global Leadership Adventures, Discover Corps, Case Western Reserve University, and The University of
Tennessee Knoxville. Our services ranged from arranging logistics and lodging to providing surfing
and yoga classes, to connecting with other community organizations and members to facilitating
workshops and lectures, and any combination thereof. These services helped bring in an estimated
$75,000 of new income to the community and 6,000 service hours.
With many of these groups, we also take the opportunity to screen several educational videos to our
guests and special interest groups that provide an in-depth look at the realities of development and
tourism in Costa Rica, including CRESTs The Goose with the Golden Egg and CAVUs Our
Waters, Our Lives.


Bodhi Surf is an
Environmental Steward

Bodhi Surf School is located in a small, coastal Costa Rican community, which borders the
Marino Ballena National Park. It is clean, pristine, and offers spectacular views of an area of the
world that remains, for the most part, untouched. Our proximity to such important terrestrial
and marine ecosystems means that everything we do directly and immediately impacts these
areas. We aim to have our own and our guests impact be positive.



Why being An environmental steward is so

important to us

For Bodhi Surf School, surfing and yoga are not just physical activities, but also
lifestyles that are aligned with conservation and environmentalism. Surfers spend
more time in the ocean than most people, and therefore, are very aware of not just
the state of their favorite surf spots, but the ocean in general. Learning to surf at
Bodhi means learning pro-environmental behaviors, because in our opinion, that is of
equal importance to standing up on a surfboard. Yoga, which helps provide physical
and spiritual awareness, allows prana the vital life force of all living things to
enter the yoga practitioner. This allows for the development of consciousness, and
respect for all living things.


Spreading the message of

environmental stewardship

This is a voluntary pledge that we encourage our guests to sign after spending a week
with Bodhi Surf School, yet is also open to the public. It encourages reflection about
how the ocean makes us feel, and also asks signees to make a commitment: I pledge
to do my part to help protect the worlds oceans by participating in Bodhi Surf's Ocean
Guardian community. Finally, signees agree to receive our Ocean Guardian Digest
a monthly email with information and concrete, easy-to-incorporate actions to reduce
their impact on the ocean and on the planet. As of December, 2015, the pledge
has over 250 signees.


Ocean Guardian Pledge

I pledge to not use plastic straws.

My Ocean Guardian Contest

Since 2013, we have held this annual contest that invites Ocean Guardians to enter and share their
innovative actions and ideas for marine conservation in exchange for meaningful prizes, including the
grand prize: a free yoga and surf camp for two people.
In 2015, we had a great variety amongst the entries, and were happy to award the Grand Prize to two
college students from Quebec, Canada, for their innovative idea to help protect the St. Lawrence Beluga
Whale they will be redeeming their grand prize and visiting us in June of 2016!
We had lots of help this year in getting the word out about the contest. We were so thankful to have the
support of larger organizations who we look up to and whose work we revere: Surfrider, The
Story of Stuff, and Life Without Plastic to name a few.



Leading by example

Bodhi Surf School believes that impact reduction must start at a small-scale level, and that a
commitment to changing common behaviors and everyday actions is critical. At Bodhi Surf School,
we continually work on reducing our environmental impact in a variety of ways: at the lodge,
within our business operations, and individually as owners and staff. We are also always looking
for ways to reduce our impact as our business grows. We encourage our guests to participate in
reducing their impact during their stay, and hope that they will feel motivated and empowered to
continue their good work when they return home.

Contribution to a climate change case study

In 2015, Bodhi Surf School was invited to contribute to a publication created by the Center for
Responsible Travel (CREST) which aims to share the current best practices and guidelines for the
private sector on how tourism in coastal destinations should be developed and managed to
address climate change impacts. We contributed a case study on our Best Practices for
Sustainable Surfing in their chapter on Marine Recreation, looking at it through the lens of climate
change and the tourism industry in particular.


Bodhi Surf is an Active

Community Participant

The community of Bahia Ballena is special: beautiful, clean, and tranquil, and with many
people who share the collective goal to keep it that way. It is also unique from other
tourism destinations in that it was a thriving town prior to tourism, and we recognize that,
as a part of the community that we operate within, we will not flourish if our
community does not flourish.


For the community



Service & Surf Saturdays

Since our inception, Bodhi Surf School has been actively involved in keeping the Marino
Ballena National Park clean and healthy with our Service & Surf Saturday program. What was
once an informal beach cleanup with other community members has morphed into a set
monthly service program which uses surfing and environmental education to empower the
communitys youth; currently, the program includes Geoporter, Forjando Alas, and Asociacin
Amigos de la Naturaleza del Pacfico Central y Sur (Friends of Nature of the Central and
Southern Pacific Coast), Costa Rica (ASANA).

Yoga for the Community

This service learning program offers community members the opportunity to learn and
practice yoga with a teacher who speaks their native language, to be paid forward with
community service hours. In 2015, Pilar donated 60 hours of her time through the Yoga for
the Community program, which had the potential to generate an additional 300 hours
of community service by the average number of students attending.



Professional internship program

In 2015, Bodhi Surf hosted six interns from different corners of the world who were seeking to
continue their education and gain real world experience in the fields of tourism, outdoor education,
business management, media, and marketing. These wonderful and hardworking individuals not
only helped out at Bodhi Surf School, but also within our community, sharing their skill sets with
other businesses and organizations and offering manpower to ongoing community projects. Its
safe to say that they learned a great deal during their time in Bahia Ballena we know that we and
fellow community members learned a lot from them!

For our guests


All of our surf and yoga camp guests have a guided community walking tour included in their
week-long stay. This tour was designed to teach our guests a little bit about our towns
history, culture, environment. It highlights issues the community has faced or is facing as the
pressures of development are revealed, as well as the actions the community is taking to
develop in a sustainable way.

Community Walk

Opting out of the all-inclusive model

We have chosen to shy away from being an all-inclusive resort for many reasons, the most
important being that we want to share the economic benefits with our fellow businesses, and
encourage cultural exchange by having guests patronize local markets, restaurants, and tour


And last but not least

personal contributions

Gibran has donated many hours from his personal time to help build or develop
websites for local businesses, organizations, and initiatives in the area. He has also
made it attainable for many local organizations and companies to reap the
benefits of having a web presence.


Through her Yoga for the Community program, Pilar has made yoga accessible to
residents of Costa Ballena, breaking down price, language, and cultural barriers. She
has also been donating her personal time to mentor up-and-coming yoga instructors
and help them achieve their goals of teaching yoga.


Travis works as a regional coordinator for the Osa-Golfito Initiative through the
Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, specifically on the the Caminos de
Liderazgo Project which focuses on creating Caminos de Osa, a sustainable tourism
destination. He also works as a consultant to the Costa Rica - USA Foundation
43 for Cooperation in rural economic development programs.

Adrianne works with local farmers and producers to source food for guests at the
Bodhi Surf Lodge. Her example of cooking healthy meals using real ingredients and
finding alternatives to commonly-used, processed foods has been motivational to
Bodhi Surf kitchen staff, who in turn have taken these tips home and have
implemented them with their own families.


Bodhi Surfs Notable Partnerships


Travelers Philanthropy program

Bodhi Surf School helps to foster a sense of engagement between its guests and the community through its
unique Travelers' Philanthropy program. Breaking away from the traditional model of soliciting funds directly
from patrons, we allot 2% of our profits from vacation packages as a parting gift to our guests in the form of a
donation gift card. In 2015, our Travelers Philanthropy program brought in $970 for organizations whose work
benefits our community.
The funds are channeled to three locally operating NGOs, Forjando Alas, ASANA, and Geoporter, whose work
directly benefits our community, and whose focuses are on youth development, environmental conservation,
and geospatial education. The program uses 21st-century geospatial technology education to improve these
young people's understanding of their environment and nature-based experiential learning programs
that foster long-term environmental stewardship.


In 2015, Bodhi Surf School donated five vacation packages valued at

a total of $11,000.


2015 My Ocean Guardian Journey Contest

For the third year in a row, Bodhi Surf School gave away a surf and yoga camp
for two people, valued at $2,400, for the grand prize of our own
environmental stewardship contest.



Center For Responsible Travel (CREST)s Eco-Action

In 2015, Bodhi Surf donated a surf and yoga camp valued at $2,400 to
CRESTs spring Eco-Auction, which benefited their work in sustainable
tourism, and specifically their day-to-day operations, internship program,
research, and Travelers' Philanthropy program.

Surfrider Foundations Two Coasts: One Ocean Events

For Bodhi Surf School, the Surfrider Foundation has been a shining example of how the surf
industry can and must be at the forefront of the environmental and marine conservation
movements, and their work has motivated us greatly to combine surfing and conservation
within our own business model.
We were thrilled at the opportunity to donate two vacation packages, valued at $5,000
total, to their fundraising events this fall, one on each side of the United States. We were
stoked to learn that this donation raised $7,500 for the Montauk event and $3,500 for the
Malibu event.


Bodhi Surf also donated a vacation package, valued at $1,200, to a locally operating school
here in the Costa Ballena, Osa for their annual auction fundraiser.

Escuela Verde




Central States Water Environmental

Association Global Water Stewards

Bodhi Surf School is excited to be working with community members and Global Water
Stewards to assess the possibility of developing a water treatment plant for Bahia Ballena. We
are working to connecting community based organizations, community leaders, the private
sector and national government.

Life Without Plastic alliance

In 2014, the folks who started the online store called Life Without Plastic won our annual My
Ocean Guardian Journey Contest. They redeemed their grand prize a yoga and surf vacation
in November of 2015. While their time here was a vacation, we also spent a great deal of time
conceptualizing ways to collaborate, and we are excited at the prospect of working with them to
become a vacation destination that is known not just for great service, but also as one who
strives to continually reduce its plastic consumption.



Patagonia Costa Rica brand launch

Patagonia is yet another company whose business model we greatly look up to, and we were
thrilled to be a part of their official Costa Rican brand launch. In late 2015, Bodhi Surf School
played a role connecting Patagonia Latin America with the press and other notable companies
and organizations here in Costa Rica in preparation for their new chapter. Patagonia has a wellearned reputation for using their business and brand to support grassroots activism in the
countries that they operate out of, and we hope that their work in Costa Rica will be no different!

I Am Water Foundation visit

Early in 2015, the Bodhi Surf team was introduced to two prominent freedivers/ocean
conservationists, Hanli Prinsloo and Peter Marshall, when they joined us for a few days of
relaxation and surfing at the Bodhi Surf Lodge. They taught us a bit about freediving, giving us
another piece of the puzzle as to why the ocean makes us as humans feel so good. We also
learned how our fellow ocean lovers are sharing this passion with others, and using it as a
tool to spark conservation.


Bodhi Surfs Goals &

Vision for 2016

Tourism: in our industry

Continue to support the pro-environmental behavior change and voluntourism

studies that are currently being undertaken with Bodhi Surf guests, and once we
have the data:
publish and spread its results
document and share a replicable model of best practices for the Bodhi Surf
Ocean Guardian Journey (pledge, digest emails, etc.)
encourage other businesses to adopt it, first within our industry (surf schools,
dive shops, and even ocean kayak tour companies) and then globally


that helps them better understand simple actions they can take to reduce their footprint

Continue to spread the teachings of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being
Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and
Better at What You Do


Education: with our guests

Double the number of Ocean Guardian Pledge signees

Provide useful tools to pledgees such as the 12 month Ocean Guardian digest email campaign

Education: with our staff

Continue to provide and support continuing education and formal work training sessions
with our staff to ensure that they grow and develop both as individuals and as a team


Perform a Plastic Audit of the Bodhi Surf Lodge operations to create and execute a

Environment: at the Bodhi Lodge

plastic reduction plan

Purchase and install solar panels

Build and utilize rainwater collectors for watering plants and rinsing surfboards


Environment: in our community and world

Contribute to the creation of a wastewater treatment plant in Bahia Ballena

Support the Semillas de Ballena coastal reforestation project in the Marino Ballena
National Park and community of Bahia Ballena


Double the number of youth participants in our Service and Surf Saturday program, and have


Community: ongoing programs

current students become mentors and stewards to the next generation of Ocean Guardians
Double the number of community businesses and organizations participating in the ongoing
Service and Surf Saturday program
Double the number of participants in our Yoga for the Community program and start guided
self-practice sessions for dedicated students who want to move to the next level with their
yoga practice


Continue to make donations to organizations whose work is in line with our own values of

responsible business, education, environmental conservation, and community participation;

repeat 2015s number of donated packages; five surf and yoga camps with a total value of

Create partnerships with organizations featured in our Ocean Guardian Digest email campaign
to disseminate useful environmental conservation information to a wider audience

Double the number of community businesses and organizations participating in the already-


existing Ocean Guardian Travelers Philanthropy program, making it a destination-wide