The Power of Sisterhood and Surfing in Costa Rica
By KEEN Ambassador Meg Haywood Sullivan
Sisterhood. Sisterhood has the power to break down barriers, heal trauma, and lift women up together. As an only child and tomboy growing up, I craved this intimate connection with other young women. It provided security, reassurance, and that support that the sky was indeed the limit. Fast forward to today and I have created my own family of inspiring women from all sorts of backgrounds. We work together, travel the world together, and most importantly surf and protect our oceans together. These bonds are sacred. No matter the hardships, heartbreaks, and difficulties we may face, our lady tribe has each other’s back.
When I got a call from my dear friend Sierra Quitiquit about co-leading a wellness & surf camp for girls in Costa Rica, I knew this would be a special trip. We would be partnering with CEPIA Foundation, which supports 800 children and teenagers from poor backgrounds through mindfulness activities, psychological help, and education. What CEPIA specializes in is helping young girls develop their sense of sisterhood so that they can nurture each other through times of trauma. Their work is incredible.
Sierra and I teamed up with our friends pro-skier Hayden Korte-Moore and pro-surfer/body activist Bo Stanley to organize this camp. All of us come from varying challenges, from emotional neglect and poverty to body shaming and sexual abuse. It was important for us to share these hardships with the next generation to show that no matter what comes their way they can succeed by helping each other. By cultivating their own sisterhood.
Our camp started with a morning of surfing at Playa Negra Beach, known for its black sand and mellow waves. The girls’ excitement was infectious as they swapped high fives and shakes on their very first waves. They were hooked. We had smiles from ear to ear sharing our love of surfing with these campers.
I am strong, I am courageous, I am smart.
After our surf session, I led an art workshop where the campers drew pictures of the endemic trees of Costa Rica that breathe life to our Pacha Mama. First, we drew trees from our imagination. They were colorful, bold, and filled with all sorts of creatures. Then, I had the girls pick their favorite tree by the beach and give it a big hug. I asked them to look up while they hugged their tree and to draw what they saw from that new perspective. The difference in the drawings was unbelievable. They were abstract, they were daring, the colors and textures were incredibly individual. All of our perspectives are different, and there is such beauty that comes from seeing the world through each of our unique visions.
What she wore: KEEN Sofia sandals.
Sierra ended the camp by leading a mindfulness and yoga meditation. All of these young girls have gone through varying levels of trauma, and this session was rooted in opening up and sharing each of our stories of hardship and resilience. Sierra helped the campers come up with their very own mantras, to remember in times of trouble. With sisterhood, we can achieve and overcome anything. The girls gave us a beautiful reminder of just that. These were their mantras: I am strong, I am courageous, I am smart.
KEEN Ambassadors live our values and support our mission of caring for the earth, building stronger communities, and inspiring adventures outside. We love that Meg shared her passion for sisterhood and surfing as a way of giving back to the next generation. If you would like to get involved: