Above L to R: Surf Director: Russell Wolfe, Owners: Tommy & Libby Ostendorf and their kids, Ryder and Shane, Camp Director: Jenn Martin, Skate Director: Cameron Skelton, Customer Support: Lisa Shea
BeachSports offers educational beach activity camps and ocean safety programs throughout the South Bay for kids ages 4 and up, as well as skateboard camps through its subsidiary program, PCH Skate Camps. The goal of the organization, which began offering summer camps in 1995, is to teach the next generation of South Bay residents to respect, preserve and safely enjoy the local beaches and oceans while learning lifelong skills in a fun, safe and inclusive environment.
Owner Tommy Ostendorf, a South Bay native, joined BeachSports in 2012 after years of teaching private lessons and operating surf camps. He became the organization’s owner in 2017. Tommy and his wife, Libby, have two sons, Ryder (3) and Shane (1), who love spending time with their parents at the beach.
Tell us a bit about your background.
“At the age of 13, I became a surf instructor with Jimmy Miller’s Pure Surfing Experience. Every summer throughout high school and college, I’d return to the beach to teach lessons and run camps. After graduating from Mira Costa High School, I graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in business administration. I worked a few ‘real’ jobs, with surf instruction as a side hustle.
In 2012 the opportunity arose for me to take over management of BeachSports. I saw potential for improving the quality of programming, as well as reducing inefficiencies through technological advancements. We now employ over 100 seasonal coaches across six locations.”
How does BeachSports support kids’ passions?
“The programs we offer can often be unfam-iliar or intimidating to parents. By providing a safe, fun and educational environment, any child with the desire to participate can experience these awesome activities. We also have become a popular first job for many local high school kids. We teach young adults the significance of being an employee—how to speak to customers, how to work as a team, what a W-2 is—as well as provide a platform for them to share their passions with others. Many of our coaches are avid surfers, skateboarders, volleyball players or even aspiring teachers or lifeguards; through their work at BeachSports they connect with others and share their passions with the next generation.”
In what ways does your business create social impact in your community?
“A main focus at BeachSports is community outreach. Each summer we work with several nonprofit organizations including the Friendship Foundation, Walk with Sally, Special Olympics, Shine With Her, Miracles for Kids, the South Bay Boardriders Club—and many others—to support their beach events. We also support numerous local schools and education foundations by contributing annually to their fundraising efforts.”
What do you see kids doing to make this world a better place?
“Due to the nature of our business, we have a very close connection to the environment—specifically the beaches and ocean. With that comes the great responsibility of educating the next generation to respect, appreciate and preserve these gifts. Every year I am impressed with the little steps I see our participants take in terms of protecting the environment: using reusable water jugs rather than plastic bottles, applying environmentally friendly sunscreens and willingly participating in beach cleanups at the end of each day. Our kids are definitely more aware of environmental issues than the generations before them.”
Are you hopeful for the future when it comes to our kids?
“Absolutely. I’m constantly amazed at how aware, thoughtful and inclusive so many of our participants are at such a young age. Obviously, technology and screen time are major concerns for future generations, which makes programs like ours so important for our youth. Exposing kids to nature and healthy outdoor activity at a young age and teaching them to find a balance between tech and the outdoors will be paramount for our kids and our community in the years ahead.”
How do you ensure your business stands out in the marketplace?
“Working with quality people, providing excellent customer service and being flexible.
We spend most of our time and resources on finding and training amazing coaches to lead our programs, many of whom are local elementary school teachers. Without quality people, you can’t run a quality program, period. As parents ourselves, we’re also aware of the great responsibility of caring for someone else’s children, so we’ve built systems and utilize software to ensure we’re always available to parents.
A major differentiator from our competition is our continued effort to be as flexible as possible for our busy parents. Our system allows participants to attend single days of camp or the whole week, half-day or full-day, with options for early drop-off or late pickup. It’s certainly a logistical challenge for our team to manage, but we know our busy parents appreciate the convenience.”