By Adam Rosenthal
Editors note: This reflection was written by Adam Rosenthal while he was in the midst of an internship with the Lacrosse Volunteer Corps as a junior at Union College in Schenectady, NY. Adam spent a summer in Kingston, Jamaica serving and leading in the LVC. He is from Tiburon, California.
When I arrived at the airport in Jamaica, I was met with a coconut. The man who gave it to me was empathetic to my long trip from California down to Jamaica. It was nice to be greeted with something so cool and refreshing.
Coming to Jamaica, I first visited the Wilmot family’s home turned surf camp, I was thrust into something, special and needed, like that first coconut I had experienced. I was welcomed with kindness and a positive vibe, treated as a friend rather than a passerby, or traveler. That meant so much to me.
Whether one stays with the Wilmot’s for a night, or two months, they treat and accept you as family, and that is the spirit that is mirrored in the surfing culture they live by at their Bull Bay sanctuary.
Lacrosse too brings a familiar feeling that all are included, that your counterparts in competition are your brethren on the shore, or off the field. Everyone has something special to teach, to share, to give. That is the beauty of surfing and lacrosse, and that is why the efforts of the Lacrosse Volunteer Corps and the Wilmot family flow together in cohesive harmony.
Striving to bring together youth through sport is not easy, and it is in fact a struggle that is met forcefully by those who desire more for the younger generations. There is never a break here at Jamnesia. There are times, perhaps, when no young surfers are passing through the camp, but still there is learning and growing. Bill Wilmot’s fervor for passing knowledge to others is hilariously intuitive, but it also carries a seriousness that hinges on the great challenges and responsibilities that will burden our younger generations.
When I met Maggie, Billy’s wife, I felt comfortable immediately. Her kindness was shown to me from the first time she greeted me, as I came from a long, tiresome plane trip; she excited and energized me, as I watched her sing and raise smiles at her grandson’s second birthday celebration.
My favorite thing about lacrosse is the people I play with, against, and for. All involved are excited and passionate about honoring the game and spreading their love for it in whatever way they can. It’s a game that the Native Americans said had a healing power, and that’s why Kevin Dugan, Fields of Growth’s founder, asked the Wilmot family if they would be a part of lacrosse’s birth in Jamaica.
Lacrosse and surfing bring people together in awe, and create dreams for others through majestic performance and creativity in the sport. It helps people realize their potential, and also how they can become better. Through competition, we meet those we idolize, and also those we can help.
Maggie may not be able to handle waves like her sons, but she is handling other challenges that are touching many through her efforts. Recently the Jamaica Surf Association held a fundraiser for young people and families affected and effected by HIV and the AIDS virus. People danced and had fun. The children affected were not highlighted or given special attention. Everyone was together, having a happy experience as one united group.
My experience in Jamaica has solidified my belief that being with people is all that I require to live a life that does more good than harm.
I see this action in the Wilmot’s sons who routinely teach people the surfing ways, but also incorporate human goodness into the experience by being with the people they have taught: their share their surfing techniques and postures, they distribute friendship and make true connections that positively affect those who have had the fortune to pass through Jamaica. The sons have learned well from their elders, and now it is their turn to pass on whatever they can through those they encounter.
The lessons I am learning in Jamaica make me more curious and excited about translating these teachings into actions, as the Wilmot’s and Kevin Dugan have done. I knew this summer would be a special experience, though I did not anticipate it would already have such a distinct impression on my heart.
The experience I am having in Jamaica is quenching my dehydrated soul, and is indeed like that first coconut I had: a thoughtful gift that has created goodness for me.