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Malibu Makos imparts wisdom through annual summer surf camp

Surfers of all ages venture out into the ocean during a Thursday, Aug. 3 session of Malibu Makos surf camp, a 27-year tradition in Malibu. Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media
Malibu Makos camper Dylan Goldberg, 11, rides a wave Thursday, Aug. 3, at Zuma Beach in Malibu. Photos by Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media
Mini Makos lead instructor Skylar Sausser (left), a 9-year instructor with Malibu Makos, relays safety instructions to the camp’s youngest age group.
Lauren Coughlin, Editor
2:58 pm PDT August 7, 2017

Summer is winding down, and another young generation of surfers will soon dry off and head back to school.

But, if Malibu Makos Surf Club Director Tom Corliss has anything to say about it, this summer’s Malibu Makos campers will have learned lifelong lessons with his staff at Zuma Beach, too.  

“I want them to take away confidence, respect for themselves, the ocean and others, and fun — just to have a fun time enjoying being a kid,” Corliss said.

And while there’s no question that the campers, ages 5-17, are having plenty of fun in the sun, the beloved Malibu camp also imparts important safety lessons on rip currents, lateral currents and everything in between.

“Obviously we teach surfing, but more importantly [we] focus on ocean safety education and ocean awareness,” Corliss said.

Malibu Makos’ camp instructors are well-informed, coming from backgrounds as certified ocean lifeguards and high-level surf instructors.

The campers come from varied backgrounds and locations, with Malibu Makos offering transportation from nine locations, but also drawing plenty of Malibu children.

“We have a really good mix of local and Angeleno kids and international kids,” Corliss explained. 

Throughout the summer, Malibu Makos offered one weeklong and four two-week sessions in Malibu. Campers were also able to attend on select days, offering plenty of flexibility for those busy summer schedules. 

Each day’s camp ran from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday. During those hours, Corliss and company sought to give the children as much time in the water as possible, as that’s where the real learning takes place. 

“For me, I’m all about water time,” Corliss said. “ ... The main focus is just being in the water all day, as much as possible.”

Some of that time was spent on “junior lifeguard type” drills, but much of it is spent, as the camp’s name would suggest, surfing. 

The Malibu Makos camp, a 27-year institution in Malibu, saw a lot of repeat campers and was blessed with “super warm” water and “very nice” weather this summer, Corliss said. But, all good things must come to an end, and Session 5 of the Malibu Makos camp will wrap up with a summer beach bash — complete with contests, music, food, prizes and giveaways — on Friday, Aug. 11. 

However, Malibu Makos Surf Club remains busy throughout the year. In addition to its child-friendly lessons, it works with Pepperdine students and adults of all ages, Corliss noted. 

For more on Malibu Makos’ surf clinics and lessons, visit or call (310) 317-1229.