Charity Spotlight: Big Stick Surfing Association

Photo Credit: Nick Borelli Photography

What if you could build a community and give back through a fun, recreational activity like surfing? That’s exactly what a group of Santa Cruz surfers set out to do in 1983 when they founded Big Stick Surfing Association (BSSA).

While founders Mike DeGregorio and Cliff Ellyn were out catching some waves, they dreamed up the idea of a “surfing social club” that would respect the sea by bringing passionate surfers together and giving back to the community.

DeGregorio and Ellyn turned their dream into a reality and since that July day in 1983, Big Stick Surfing Association has lived up to its mission, “Friendship and camaraderie in and out of the water.”

Thanks in part to the organization’s annual Logjam! surfing contest, BSSA has raised and donated over $123,000 to worthy causes, including:

• $61,000 in scholarships to graduating seniors from local Santa Cruz high schools
• $18,500 to Ride-A-Wave-Foundation to help needy and disabled kids enjoy a day at the beach
• $15,000 to Santa Cruz Surfrider Foundation, Save our Shores, and Surfer’s Environmental Alliance to help protect the coast and preserve local surfing history

BSSA has continued to donate to other local charities and scholarships, and partnered with Surfaid International in 2016 to help bring medical and infrastructure support to remote Indo islands.

We caught up with BSSA secretary, Gary Silberstein, in between surf outings to learn a bit more about the organization and their 19th annual Logjam! event.

SM: What motivated the creation of Big Stick Surfing Association?

GS: The motivation was to have fun and give back to our community.

SM: Since starting Big Stick Surfing Association, what kind of results or progress have you seen in the community?

GS: “Progress” from our point of view is raising money through our yearly surf content, the Logjam! and donating what we raise to local good causes.

SM: What are you most proud of with Big Stick Surfing Association?

GS: That 36 years after its founding, the Club is still a vibrant, exciting organization that continues to attract community-minded young people.

SM: What your organization is doing is amazing! What are some ways people can get more involved to experience what you’re doing?

GS: Attend Logjam! and buy raffle tickets. Donate raffle prizes, and gift certificates for the raffle are always welcome!

19th Annual Big Stick Surfing Association Logjam! Contest

Big Stick Surfing Association’s Logjam! contest is recognized as the premier classic surfboard event by California’s surfing community. The best surfers around show off their skills on “old school”-style surfboards made before 1970 that weigh over 30 pounds, while viewers can experience panoramic views of the competition from the cliff side overlook at Pleasure Point Park, Santa Cruz.

Logjam! is continuing its “Going Green” theme to tie in the 2012 designation of Santa Cruz as a World Surfing Reserve and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This year’s event will include a solar power supply, a “no disposable plastics” approach, reusable cloth Goodie Bags, and much more to help support a cleaner environment. Find out more about Logjam and all the upcoming events in Santa Cruz.

StorageMart and Big Stick Surfing Association

Just like Big Stick Surfing Association, StorageMart is dedicated to giving back to the many communities we serve. StorageMart has provided BSSA with safe and secure storage units for their contest equipment, saving them over $2,300 to date that they can use to donate to wonderful causes trying to keep our environment clean.

Learn more about StorageMart’s Store It Forward initiative today.