Ocean paradise along the coast in Portugal.

When I feel the fresh air of the ocean on my skin and take in the spectacular cliff views around me, I feel the most incredible peace and know I am in Santa Cruz again.

After greeting Valeriya and Johny (the organizers of the camp) and Joana from the SeaLand association, we get started on the preparation of the opening event. Riders arrive from all over the world, familiar faces welcome me back with their usual warmth, and I’m impressed by the progress they’ve made since my last visit. Valeriya, Abou and I begin with a workshop, followed by a few fun games for prizes from the sponsors.

Being in the heart of the surf culture, Santa Cruz has more kids that fearlessly riding boards than anywhere else I’ve ever seen. The event promises to be a great start for the upcoming camp.

Surfing is a blast.

It was the third edition of the Longboard Days and Nights camp and my second time as an instructor, but this time it was extra special because I had one of my closest friends and Paris Trucks teammate, Abou, as a co-instructor. To add to the excitement, teammate Jeff Corsi and his girlfriend Cecile joined in last minute, and our team manager, Ryan Ricker, surprised us all showing up to learn a few tricks himself. In other words, it was the perfect cocktail for a week in this little Portuguese heaven.

We stayed at 360 Surf Camp in Santa Cruz, a beautiful coastal place 65km north of Lisbon. Andrea and Rui, the owners, are the most kind-hearted and welcoming people and definitely spoil us all with delicious local food. The chill vibes here are ideal to rest in between the surf and skate lessons.

“Catching my first unbroken waves and seeing Abou fearlessly trying to drop in on them too was priceless.”

This camp becomes our headquarters for a week, where everyone gets to know each other and discover people’s hidden talents and interesting stories.

Our program was pretty consistent and intense: three hours of surf lessons in the morning on most days (every day for the hungry ones like Abou) and two hours of longboard lessons in the afternoon, followed by hours of additional riding until sunset.

The afternoon lunch breaks allowed time for people to relax (and for me to rest while fighting off a cold). Others joined in for yoga sessions or went for hikes.

Cross-step party.

The summer waves rarely get over 1.5m in Santa Cruz, although a beginner myself, I had my fair share of tumbling like I was in washing machines and tossed by the ocean like a piece of seaweed. Catching my first unbroken waves and seeing Abou fearlessly trying to drop-in on them too was priceless. In between waves, we enjoyed cheap and delicious galaõs (a Portuguese version of a latte) and learned how to backflips in the sand.

The longboard lessons aren’t like anything I have experienced. I’ve helped less experienced riders before and also learned from more advanced ones, but this is different. Here, I share the responsibility of teaching a dozen people for an entire week which takes a lot more planning and thought. Every rider has different skills, expectations, potential, and preferences.

Surfing and skating with a side of yoga? Yes please.

Abou and I split the lessons into an hour of dancing and another of freestyle, and made sure each participant was able to get tips from each of us. We had tons of fun but made sure to challenge and push everyone to the next level.

What I still can’t believe is that almost all the participants learned a new trick every day. People with no riding experience were landing shove-its, no-complies, pirouettes and dancing combos. The progression was unbelievable, I’m still trying to figure out what the ingredients for that perfect recipe are to apply elsewhere. Practicing for several days in a row, having a training schedule, being pushed to the limit while being encouraged and given tips, or the indescribable energy flowing through the group and making people give the best out of their self?

One thing’s for sure, the Longboard Days and Nights camps provide fertile soil to grow your longboarding skills, feed your soul, and make life-long friends.

As for myself, being a longboard instructor has offered me another kind of fulfillment and a new exciting longboard path I look forward to pursuing.

For 2019, Longboarding Days & Nights is offering an exciting program of camps bringing 8 talented international riders to lead each of the camp's lessons.

For all the information check out: longboardingpt.wixsite.com or drop a line to Valeriya at [email protected]