Pink Pineapple Surf
Follow Your Heart, Work Hard, Never Give Up & Love Your Brain!!!
This is a story about the path Becky Burt, Owner of Pink Pineapple Surf took to get to where she is today. Becky Burt, owner of Pink Pineapple Surf has traveled the world and first started giving surf lessons while she worked for a non profit organization called Surfing the Nations based on Oahu, Hawaii in 2008. Surfing The Nations’ motto is "Surfers giving Back" . The program is designed to train and equip young surfers and non-surfers in servant-leader humanitarian work to a variety of cultures, through a variety of outreaches. During Becky's internship she worked with the underprivileged youth of Hawaii giving surf lessons at their Freedom Surf Camps as well as working for their Feeding The Hungry Outreach which aims to make a difference in more ways than just one by fulfilling physical needs in their communities by distributing food, clothing, and household items they also take the time to “talk story” and build relationships, hoping to show each recipient they are loved and valued. They believe that everyone deserves to be noticed and treated with dignity and joy. " Working with homeless people, children and adults and becoming actual friends with them was something that has forever changed my heart for the human race." Becky recalls.
Becky's internship at Surfing the Nations brought her all over the world being part of the international outreach team. Becky spent time in Indonesia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan where she worked with orphanages, local communities and surfers. In 2002 Tom Bauer, founder of Surfing the Nations took a small team of surfers to Middle East with the belief that there must be surf and maybe even some surfers along the Mediterranean. The team started their journey in Egypt were led to a coastal town on the outskirts of Alexandria where they got connected to Egypt’s first surfer, Teymour “Tim” Adham. Tim propelled STN into the surf community and opened the doors for STN give back by hosting surf contests on the Mediterranean, and providing clothes and toys for local orphanages. From there the journey continued to Israel, meeting up with people along the way in Eastern Egypt and Jordan. This first team opened the doors for future STN teams to experience the Holy Land from within the walls of the ancient city of Jerusalem and to build new relationships with the surfers along the Mediterranean coast both in Egypt and in Israel.
It was in Alexandria, Egypt where she really felt she found her calling. She made a connection with a little surfer girl whose dad was one of the first ever surfers in Egypt, Tim Adham. She spent hours each day with this little girl in the ocean. Seeing first hand the oppression that woman face in the Middle East was a bit of a culture shock. You read about it but to experience it firsthand really puts things into perspective. During her time in Alexandria, Egypt Surfing the Nations held the first ever Surf Contest. It was a very big deal that they aloud this to happen at the time. The Prime Minister and news stations all came out for the big event. They let some girls participate but they had to wear their formal clothing in the ocean. Being a part of that first ever surf contest in Alexandria and being able to make connections with the young girls the way Becky did was something that really gave her a heart for girls all over the world. She saw how surfing could connect anyone from any race or path in life and bring them together even if they didn't speak the same language.
After Becky's commitment with Surfing the Nations was finished she enrolled at the University of Hawaii to study Graphic Design. She moved to the North Shore of Oahu to full fill her "Blue Crush" dreams. Occasionally she would give surf lessons with a local legend named "Buttons" May he Rest in Paradise. It was on the North Shore that she found her "Surfer Girl Gang" Her group consisted of girls from Brazil, Hawaii, and Venezuela who all had one thing in common which was their love for the ocean.
"Their is something special about surfing with just your girlfriends. You don't have the pressure or feel embarrassed like you do around all the guys. It was a dream come true to finally have a bunch of girls to have fun and surf with"
In 2013 she moved back to New Jersey to finish college. In the Summers she volunteered with the boys and girls club of Asbury Park giving surf lessons. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County empowers all young people—especially those who need us most—to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. " Some of the kids that grow up in Asbury have never even been in the ocean. Their home life is a lot different from someone who lets say grew up two towns away in Spring Lake. They would tell us about their home life and it is hard to believe at times so being able to see those kids forget about it all for an hour and have fun and see them laughing and smiling in the ocean is really priceless" Becky says. She also worked for a local surf camp and through both of those programs, traveling, working for the non profit organization and living in Hawaii she realized their was something missing in all of it. The lack of girl instructors and focus towards girls at the camps and in the programs was something she saw a need for. Something she wish she had growing up.
In the Summer of 2014 she decided to venture out on her own and start up her own girl movement and so Pink Pineapple Surf was born. That Summer she made post cards and put them in every shop in town spreading the word the best she could. She bought three pink soft top boards and slowly began giving private lessons in between waitressing. The first Summer was slow but busier then expected and she saw just from the clients she had how empowering it was to have one on one sessions with the girls in the water and that Pink Pineapple was going to be something very special. Everything about it felt right in her heart and she could not wait to start planning for next Summer.
Her plans were altered on September 19th, 2014 right after her first Summer of Pink Pineapple Becky had a freak accident that would forever change her life. She fell off a porch swing about 4 feet off the ground into a garden and hit her on on a cinderblock. Like a TV screen having the plug pulled, zap everything went black. The doctors told her she was lucky to be alive. Diagnosed with a "Mild Traumatic Brain Injury" Becky would be out of work for 10 months. Nothing could ever prepare her for the challenges she would face ahead.
Becky describes her Traumatic Brain Injury as this -
"My Traumatic Brain Injury has been the singularly most life changing event of my life. A freak accident, I fell off the back of a porch swing into a garden and hit my head on a cinderblock. Like cutting the power cord from a TV, Zap, everything went black. I woke up the next morning without a clue as to what challenges lie ahead of me. The doctors told me
I was lucky to be alive. I didn't feel that way for a long time. Living with a TBI and PTSD coexisting is a state unlike anything I knew could exist inside the mind. The levels of Depression, Anxiety, memory loss, confusion, self isolation, poor judgement among many others were high. For a while I was like Lucy from 50 first dates without the happiness. My memory was non existent. My panic attacks were so severe they would put me in the hospital. When you go from being a strong independent person who has a lust for life to feeling completely handicapped, disabled, insecure, with no light at the end of the tunnel in need of desperate help but no way to fix it and no one seemed to understand. Thats when suicide thoughts started to kick in.
My brain felt like all the pieces had been disconnected and there was no way I could ever get them back together. I tried to commit suicide twice and was put on suicide watch for a month. If you know me this is the furthest association to my character so it just goes to show you how serious brain injuries can be and how extremely hard they are to overcome. The bravest thing I ever did was continuing my life when I wanted to die. I was then put on medication that helped me manage my life and emotions that were the lowest of lows but the medication flat lined me. I had no feelings at all. So one day I decided I was done. What is the point of living if you cant feel the joy of it? I used to LOVE Life so I came off my meds cold turkey under no supervision so that I could get back to myself again. The person who loved life and traveled the world. Coming off of my medication was the scariest emotional experience I have ever been through. I would describe it as "Hell on Earth" Now I understand why so many people try to get off and they cant. It is that hard. My withdrawals that lasted 6 months but I made it through alive and I can FEEL JOY again. I still deal with My Brain Injury every single day but this Summer, Summer 2017 for the first time I had multiple people tell me they see a huge difference in me like a light switch has been turned on. Brings me to tears. TBI's are the invisible injury. You could never even begin to understand unless you have been through it.
My brain injury showed me how much stronger I am then I ever thought. I started up a business with half a brain against all odds, I never gave up, I'm still going. It is hard to balance your life when your brain feels like it is constantly in a state of chaos trying to put the pieces together let alone run a business. I will never give up. I take the good days with the bad and embrace all the emotions. Being able to FEEL anything is what life is all about. I am dedicating the rest of my Life to making decisions that make me FEEL ALIVE. I tip my Glass to all the TBI Survivors!! You are the strongest people in the world and deserve all the recognition. For years I never told my story because for some reason I was ashamed and didn't want people to think I was weak. As I come closer to fully recovering I realize how false those thoughts are and how it is quite the opposite. I feel that it is important for me to share my story because there are so many people out there going through the same thing who feel so alone. They need to know how amazing and strong they are. Brain injuries are not for the weak, they are indeed for the strong. If I help one person by sharing my story then it is so so worth it. "
Those first two Summers after my accident were the hardest Summers of my life. For two years I had sever panic attacks, headaches, short and long term memory loss etc. I told myself you have to do the best you can do that day with the brain you have. Just alway do your best that day there is nothing else you can do.
I went into the Summer of 2015 after my accident not knowing what to expect, not knowing if my brain could handle the pressure of running a business. I started out giving private lessons by myself. By the end of the Summer I was so busy I had to hire 5 girls to help me keep up with the lessons. The next Summer we added a small surf camp on top of giving private lessons and hired 5 more instructors. By the end of Summer 2017 we had 15 instructors giving lessons with Pink Pineapple on top of private lessons, surf camp and birthday parties as well as skate sessions for girls. It has been very humbling watching Pink Pineapple grow each year.
Pink Pineapple has been funded by the money I have made waitressing. I have had to work two or three jobs in between Summers. We have not yet had someone financially back us. My goal is to one day have Pink Pineapple be my only job because I feel like it is what I am meant to do. To connect and empower girls through surfing and skating from all over the world. I think a lot of people look at other peoples success or path in life and not even realizing it compare it to their own and get down on themselves for not keeping up or reaching success as fast. I know I did but everyone is on their own path and I have had to redefine what success means to me and by doing that it changed my life. So what if we are not as big as I would like to be in year 5. At this point Pink Pineapple is so much more then a surf camp, it is something beyond me in such a beautiful way. It is a girl power movement that brings so much joy, positivity, confidence, relationships, skills the list goes on and on. It is more then I could have dreamed of and we haven't even come close to the potential that I know Pink Pineapple will be. I have so many grand plans and dreams for Pink Pineapple but for now I am taking it day by day and am so thankful for what the girls have helped e create. I could not imagine doing this with a better group of girls. They inspire me everyday. We all have worked so hard in our own ways to make Pink Pineapple what it is today. We did not get here by chance we got here because we never ever gave up even when the odds were against us. Team work makes the dream work and with that said I have to say thank you to our sponsors Surf Taco, Roxy, and inlet outlet for helping us along the way, taking a chance on us, believing in us. We couldn't have accomplished what we have without you and that goes for every single person who has signed up for camp, helped us carry our equipment on the beach, and been there in so many different ways. Sincerely Thank You from the bottom of my heart!!! Team work makes the Dream Work!!
I hope my story will inspire girls and show them that you can do anything you put your mind to. Thank you for Reading,
Following Your Heart, Working Hard, NEVER Giving Up and Loving Your Brain!!
Below are some pictures from my travels and people I have met along the way that have shaped me into the person I am today. Surfing is a lifestyle that has changed my life and for that I am forever grateful.