15 years ago I heard the call of the waves and it forever changed my life. After a mellow midday session with friends, I peered out from the terrace overlooking the surfbreak and realized I was absorbed in the experience- the sun on my back, the chatter of fishermen cleaning their nets, saltwater in my hair, and the reward of a clear mind. Right then, I decided to slow down and spend more time savoring the warmth of Mexico. And along the way, I learned I had something wonderful to share.

I would like to thank everyone who shared their calling in our scholarship contest. I enjoyed reading the entries and admit it was nearly impossible to pick ten nominees. Please read them below and vote with your heart. I hope to see you in the waves soon.


Founder Las Olas

PS  Keep up on surf and lifestyle tips, news, and entertainment. Join Las Olas Pipeline here.

Las Olas donates full tuition for a seven day/six night surf safari, including daily surf and yoga classes, spa treatment, daily breakfast and ground transportation. See Las Olas website for inclusions. Scholarship does not include airfare.

Everyone wins a one year digital subscription to Women's Adventure Magazine, the sports, travel, fitness, and lifestyle magazine published specifically for active women. Every edition inspires, informs, and invigorates. As our guest, sign up for your subscription today!

Sherpani Lifestyle Bags for Women donates "The Trip" luggage- a copious, smooth wheeled duffel bag from their travel collection- the perfect carry-on for your surf safari.

1. Read each entry below.

2. Vote for your favorite by clicking on the heart below the photo. Only one vote per email address will be counted.

3. Voting ends 11:59PM PST February 24, 2012. Las Olas Scholarship winner will be announced on February 29, 2012 on the Las Olas Facebook fan page. Stay informed- become a fan.

Try. Just Try.

Everyday I visit the Las Olas website. I am immediately taken from my desk and put into a world of empowerment, strength, and support. I allow myself five minutes to look at pictures, watch videos, and read Q&A’s with the instructors. I imagine sitting on a surfboard ready to find a wave. I imagine listening to the waves and feeling strong as I stand on my board.

But I have never been surfing. I don’t know how to choose a wave to ride. I only wish I did. After my daily visit, my thoughts turn to disbelief that I could ever actually achieve riding a wave. “Yeah, right. Maybe if I was 50lbs lighter. I’m not even confident enough to speak up in work meetings, let alone try standing on a surfboard and to have the courage get up when I get knocked down.”

But today, after the negative thoughts swirled in my head, something miraculous happened. A piece of me whispered, “Try. Just try.” Any other day I would have dismissed the contest, but I wanted you to know what is calling me to Las Olas. And no one is more surprised than myself, that it’s me.

Embracing Change

The summer I turned 20, I bought a beat-up surfboard for $35 and moved to San Diego on my own. As I climbed the steps to my new apartment with the board tucked under my arm, a girl stopped me and invited me to join her for a surf. The blissful and challenging morning sessions with my strong new girlfriends that ensued for a brief time afterward now play in my head like a grainy film reel and represent days full of purpose, promise, and freedom. Life got in the way, as it inevitably does when you let it, and I’ve been landlocked ever since. This summer, I turn the big 3-0. Societal pressures tell me I should be ready to settle down, pay attention to my biological clock, start making more money, and get my grownup life all figured out. The brave and inspired girl I used to be is instead crying out for me to get back in the water, learn to play in the waves again, and reclaim the strength I once discovered in the sea. I hear her faintly whispering, telling me to lighten up and paddle into my future with an open heart.

Hard Working Mama

I am a brave world-traveler who tries exotic foods and flings herself off of cliffs into crystal waters. Okay, actually I am a mom of two children, a school teacher, and a graduate student in Maine. My to-do list is as long as my laundry pile is deep. Turns out, I am a fearless adventurer trapped in the life of a working mom who packs endless school lunches, grades stacks of papers, mops floors, and bribes my kids to eat more broccoli. Las Olas, take me away. 

Years ago when I was childless and lived in California, I used to sit on the beach and watch my brother and husband surf. Surfing was what the guys did. I used to be a watcher. I have recently made great strides in becoming the brave woman I have always wanted to be, a doer, a writer, a marathoner, a triathlete. As a hard-working mama in the cold north, I would thrive on the waves under the southern sun. I am not that woman sitting on the beach anymore. Las Olas, put me on a surfboard.

Peace and Solitude

During the past ten years I have worked in several war zones, including 44 months in Iraq, 23 months in the West Bank, and 7 months in Lebanon.  During this time I have been shot at, kicked, hit, spit on and had the place I was staying set on fire. And while during this time I have had the fortune to meet many courageous men and women, I have also witnessed far too many people’s lives cut far too short. What this all amounts too is I need a break! I crave the peace and solitude that I have no doubt can be found in the wide ocean. To learn how to surf, find again the peace in myself, eat healthy and be with like-minded individuals is a dream...

For the past four months I have been unemployed as I wait for my next mission (adventure?) to grab hold and take me on a new path of discovery. So if I win this coveted scholarship I would use the opportunity to seize on all that is good, (you learn to appreciate all that is good when you have seen so much that isn’t), to enjoy the small things, embrace life tightly and hold on for as long as I can.

Balance and Variety

My name is Sara. I wake up at 5:30, step into my turquoise scrubs and Danskos, scrape the ice off of my truck and head out for a thirteen-hour day at the ICU. Half of my day sneaks away before I realize my stomach is roaring like a lion and I haven’t even taken a sip of water. Each week a marathon of work is devoted to caring for my patients and their families. Being a nurse is the most challenging, taxing position I’ve held and it is easy to love. But that is only a fraction of the gal that is Sara.

I’m not like those people who are swallowed alive by their job, defining themselves through their work. I require balance and variety. I am a mountain biker, a runner, a lover of fine foods. I am certain that I am a surfer; but alas, I am a mid-westerner. Land locked with my daydreams of the salty scent of the sea, a mist on my face, a rush of water under my feet. Yet the only reminiscence of the ocean is a set of turquoise scrubs.

Dream Big

“My house sits on a white sandy beach, the ocean is my backyard.  Flowing curtains wave in the breeze next to my open windows as I wake up in the morning. The roaring waves that lulled me to sleep now beckon me to get out of bed and join them. I grab my board and head out to the water all day, surfing, exploring and soaking up the sun. At night, my friends gather on the beach for a bonfire, with the infinite dark ocean steps away. I look up at the stars and know that I’ve found my paradise.” -May 10, 1996

I was 15 years old when I wrote this in my journal. Before I knew it, college arrived. Then a job, then my beautiful family. All of which I wouldn't trade for the world! But there are days that I miss that surfer girl, and would like to be her, if only for a little while. To reconnect to that time in my life when it was easy to dream big. To reignite the flame that burns for what I love, and reminds me that the sky can still be the limit!

Search for the Endless Summer

As my big 6-0 approaches and the bucket list looms larger in my mind’s eye, the words Learn to Surf shimmer like sunlight on the ocean. Ever since that hot August afternoon in 1966 when a sixteen year old denizen of the trailer park in Ocean City, Maryland (where my family vacationed) took a gawky fourteen year old me to see The Endless Summer, I was hooked – not on the surfer boys my more sophisticated friend went to flirt with, but on the sheer poetry of surfing. Sure, I put on some lipstick too as soon as we were out of sight of our parents and heading down the boardwalk to the theater, but between the moments the house lights dimmed and The Sandals’ carefree music played under the end credits of that now legendary documentary, I fell in love - with the idea of catching the perfect wave, that swell of liquid magic that could transport you to some kind of indescribable paradise. Alas, destiny took me in other directions and a surfer girl I was not to be… Now the siren’s song of Las Olas is calling to me, saying it’s not too late to live the dream.

Washed Up

In 2009, my 40th year of life, I set out to accomplish two goals just to spite my coming of “middle age.” I decided that I was going to run my third, and best, Boston Marathon, and take a surf safari. Unfortunately, the waves of life had other plans for me that year. I managed to get a stress fracture a month before my race, and awhile later, I herniated a disc in my back. My efforts to battle middle age, turned out to be the proverbial “cutting off my nose, to spite my face.” I could not run for 10 long months, and went through 2 months of therapy for my back. In my 40th year, middle age hit me like a tidal wave.

I never ran my marathon or took that surf safari. However, instead of running and surfing, I studied and researched food and health. I since have created my own website, blog, and Facebook page. When the waves of life hit me, I chose a different one. It has changed my life, stimulated my mind, and improved the health of my entire family. But enough with the metaphorical waves, I deserve the real ones now!

My Ode to Surf Las Olas

I find myself at a crossroads in life where my soul longs passionately for new perspective. Looking back at the last decade of struggling, working, marriage and children, I grasp to learn how to balance life, reset priorities, and retune my spiritual being. The warm salty waves of Mexico call to me, where I feel beautiful in an ocean that doesn’t care what my swimsuit size is. The brisk morning beach at sunrise beckons me for yoga, spiritual meditation and reflection. And I yearn to discover new friends that are soul searching as I am, to surface the inner tomboy and embrace life to the fullest.

Let us be barefoot. Let us surf as the sun sets, then dance salsa by the moonlight. Let us eat authentic chips with guacamole. Let us be giggly girls and gain new laugh wrinkles. Please let me escape my lackluster closet of black and gray to bask in the bright turquoise and golds of colorful Mexico. And what’s more, really learn how to surf, with no fear, nothing holding me back like the dark icy Northwest waters that taunt me. The time for new beginnings is now. Let us make girls out of women!

Blue Crush Dreams

I surf through Times Square over swells of tourists. I slalom through the subway turnstiles and train cars morning and night. I race up the Highline Park, taking in the Hudson River views, and wishing the water was warmer and safe to swim in. That's as close as I get to adventure sports nowadays. I moved back to New York City five years ago, and rarely make it beyond the outer boroughs for more than a weekend.

The city is a black hole-- I love it, but it's hard to escape the gravity pulling you deeper and deeper into the city's center. I've always wanted to learn how to surf, and ride out my "Blue Crush" dreams on Mexican waves. I miss that slightly salty sun-kissed feeling after spending a day at the seashore. I would love to know what it's like to have that same feeling-- but with the glorious exhaustion from a week spent learning to surf.

Many thanks to everyone who sent their calling for a surf safari. They were all deserving of recognition and gratitude.

To read all Las Olas Scholarship nominees entries, click below.

Hope to see you in the waves soon.

Vote for your favorite

2012 Nominee below.