Sending Kids Off To Surf Camp

Alika Winter teaches his 5-year-old daughter Tiana to surf. Photo courtesy Tanya Winter

Alika Winter, founder of Soljah Clothing Co. and event promoter of the raging Soljah parties of the ’90s, always has loved the ocean. Now 42, the lifelong surfer and firefighter with Honolulu Fire Department, is hoping to spread the joy of surfing to Hawaii’s keiki through Soljah Surf Camp, which he started with wife Tanya.

A father of three daughters (15-year-old Chien, 9-year-old Malia and 5-year-old Tiana), Winter says the camps started as a way to teach his keiki and his friends’ kids how to surf.

“I’ve noticed that there are a lot of overzealous parents these days and I was one of them,” admits Winter. “My oldest daughter didn’t like to surf because I was overzealous. So when I had my second daughter I decided to be very patient and not push her, and it worked out really well.”

The surf camps are open to kids age 6 to 16, and take place during the long school holidays, such as spring, summer, fall and winter breaks. It’s held over four days from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Waikiki Beach (meeting near the Duke Kahanamoku statue).

“Depending on their skill level, we take them to Baby Queens, Baby Canoes, Canoes and even outside at Queens,” notes Winter. “They will be standing up on the first day for sure. After that, we teach them to turn around, paddle back and catch a wave by themselves.

“The magic about Waikiki is it’s the best place on the planet to learn how to surf. It’s not a pitching, barreling wave. It’s a rolling wave on a sand bottom.”

Surfboards of different types and sizes are available, but students can bring their own, if they prefer. Winter lists safety, being comfortable and having fun as their top priority for the kids.

“The ocean has such a healing property to it,” he says. “When you’re stressed, you can just go in the ocean and feel good afterward.

“And it’s healthy. I was up to 206 pounds, but when we started the camp, it kind of forced me to get back in the water and now I’m 182 pounds. It’s such good aerobic exercise. You’re working your lats, and next thing you know your beer belly’s going away.”

Surfing also is a great family activity. “The cool thing is my oldest, I thought she would never surf again, but she actually helps us at the camp,” says Winter. “And my two younger ones compete in contests.”

Registration for the winter camp begins in November. Cost is $265. Interested parents also can stop by the fall camp this week (Oct. 7 to 10) for a peek at what they do. For more information, email or visit