Chris Brown, Executive Director, Campsurf
- Written byLaura Watts
Campsurf is a full-service surf school located in Manhattan Beach. The business was founded by Jimmy Miller in 1997. Executive director Chris Brown has been running the organization since 2004, along with partners Tommy Ostendorf and Mark Gerold. Campsurf offers surf camps, private lessons, corporate events and private parties.
Tell us about the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation and how Campsurf supports it.
“We basically see ourselves as two arms of the same body. Campsurf is the for-profit/business side. The Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation (JMMF) is the non-profit/charitable side. Shortly after Jimmy’s death in 2004, we decided it would be a fitting tribute to keep Campsurf running and try to keep his dream alive. At the same time, many of his closest friends and family immediately knew that we wanted to start a non-profit dedicated to Jimmy. This eventually morphed into the JMMF and the Ocean Therapy program.”
What would you like potential clients to know about your business?
“Our staff is what sets us apart from all other surf schools. We have assembled an experienced crew that is made up of many of the best surfers in the South Bay, who also happen to be amazing people.”
How do the philanthropic efforts of your business make our community a better place?
“The JMMF’s Ocean Therapy program has turned around many lives—maybe even saved a few. We are constantly humbled by the feedback we get from therapists informing us of how helpful the Ocean Therapy program has been.”
What motivates you to combine your passion for your business with your desire to give back?
“We are lucky that we have found an ideal way to combine the two. Helping others helped us to heal in the aftermath of Jimmy’s tragic death.”
Tell us about one of your favorite experiences in the past when you volunteered with a charitable cause or organization.
“Working with the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton is always an amazing experience. These people have sacrificed so much to protect our freedom. It feels very rewarding to be able to give back to them.”
Who is your favorite celebrity philanthropist?
“Kelly Slater, because he has donated his time and volunteered with us at Camp Pendleton. You should have seen the looks on the Wounded Warriors’ faces when they realized they were going surfing with him. Priceless.”
“I love seeing people’s mental state change. It’s always fun to see clients bodies get longer, leaner and stronger!”