Professional surfer Noah Snyder led two surfing camps this summer in association with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and Liberty Christian Fellowship in Colington. The first camp ran from July 21 to 25, and the second ran the week of Aug. 4 to 8.
Snyder and his wife Corissa live with their children Ezra and Jada in Kitty Hawk. Snyder told the Sentinel he grew up in Kill Devil Hills, but spent most of his time on the beach.
"I would go and hang out with my dad and see people surfing," Snyder recalled. "One day I got a board, paddled out and it was like the stars aligned. I caught a wave, stood up and everything went into slow motion. At the end of that ride I knew that I had experienced something that was life-changing. From that day on I was hooked and knew this was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life."
Snyder turned pro at 21, began to travel the world and watched the opportunities open up. "But the real turning point came when I was 23 and gave my life to the Lord," Snyder said. "I never thought there was anything out there that could top surfing, but I discovered there was when I gave my heart to Jesus. That day I went surfing and rode the most incredible wave I've ever ridden. Now when I look back on it, it seems like that amazing day must have been a dream. But I know it really happened.
"I still remember the date. It was Nov. 24, 1996. That was 'my day' -- the day when God got in touch with me in a way that I'd never experienced before. And I opened my heart up to Him and allowed Him to come in and do that work that needed to be done.
"I had to refocus everything in my life and I decided to keep on surfing -- but to honor the Lord with my surfing. I found myself on trips that I'd only dreamed of, meeting people who were my heroes. And a lot of things that were in my heart that I wanted to see happen were fulfilled."
In 2004 a film documentary about Snyder called "Noah's Arc" was released and helped turn him into a true Outer Banks legend. Filmed on location in Hawaii, Florida, Indonesia, Tahiti, Nicaragua and the Outer Banks, the film has been translated into 10 languages and touched lives around the world. "I still get emails today on Facebook from people telling me how the film impacted their lives," Snyder said. "And it is cool to be a part of something that is way bigger than you.
"What is really on my heart when we do a camp is to pour into the kids a love for surfing and also share Christ with them in a personal way. The biggest thing driving me in doing these camps is knowing that one day I won't be here. I ask myself, 'What would you want to be remembered for?' And my answer is imparting something to these kids that sticks with them. What kids need more than anything is just to know that they are loved -- that someone cares about them.
"I know the Lord has given me the gift of surfing and I want to use that. I don't want to get up there one day and hear, 'So, I gave you this great gift and you had a lot of fun with it, but what did you do with it for me?' I want to be obedient.
"I feel like the Lord gave me a revelation about surfing and I share it with the students: that you can be a surfer and a Christian. You don't have to be 'boring' to walk with the Lord. You can have fun. I also share that Christ is real -- having an experience with Christ is real and it changes your life."
Snyder and Corissa hosted their first surf camp 11 years ago at First Flight Church in Nags Head. This is the fourth summer they've led FCA sponsored camps at Liberty. Traveling from Liberty each morning to different beach accesses, Snyder and his staff led the students in warm-up exercises, surf training and surf competitions. They also set aside time each morning for small group Bible studies and dynamic guest speakers.
Parents commend Snyder on the positive impacts they see in their children after attending one of his camps.
"This is the last week of FCA camps for the summer," Northeast N.C. FCA area director Scott Williams told the Sentinel. "Nationwide we had close to 400 camps, and this is what FCA camps are all about: using the influence of guys like Noah to bring out kids to learn to surf and then share Christ with them. Noah will be the first one to tell you that surfing is a good thing, but it's not what you can do on a board that really counts. It's Christ who fills your soul and brings fulfillment."
Williams added that he was looking forward to gearing up for his sixth year of heading up FCA on the Outer Banks.
"It's been a crazy week, but good," Snyder told the Sentinel on the last day of camp on the beach at the Asheville Street Beach Access in Kill Devil Hills. "We had Hurricane Bertha surf, so it's been a week of faith versus fear. It was neat to see kids work through things they had a fear of and watch them gain more confidence and grow.
"FCA's theme for this year was 'All in.' God went 'all in' for us by giving us Christ. And in return He asks that we go 'all in' for Him. And through the week we challenged the kids to make an 'all in' commitment to Christ.
"The principle really applies to whatever you do in life. If you want to get good at something, you've got to be committed to it. Along the way you'll get your bumps and bruises -- and even your failures -- but it's all part of a learning and growing process. And if you stick with it and keep that commitment, you'll achieve success."
Asked what they thought about surf camp, the students replied, "Fun," "Cool," "Awesome!"
The one word that summed it up more than any other was the word they used for a spirited group shout-out to the camera: "Jesus!"
For more information, visit www.fcasurf.org/noah-snyders-surf-camp or call Williams at 252-564-2465.
Posted on Fri, August 29, 2014
by Derek Carmical