By Maddie Heid for The Island Eye News
After years of debate, the Isle of Palms Town Council has finally passed two ordinances allowing surf and paddleboard lessons to be taught on its beaches. For many years, surfing lessons have been considered illegal on Isle Of Palms since it falls under the category of a commercialized business. Still, it wasn’t a problem that went unheard by the residents. “To call it an uphill battle would be an understatement,” stated Kyle Busey, the Carolina Salt Surf Lesson owner. As a professional surfer for more than 20 years, Busey has worked tirelessly since 2004 to make it his life mission to get a surfing license passed for Isle of Palms. Although he felt like giving up at times, Busey knew getting an ordinance approved was vital to the residents of Isle of Palms, especially the children. “It wasn’t fair to the kids who wanted to surf under proper instruction and had to drive to Folly just to get a lesson.” After years of knocking on doors, going to council meetings, and getting petitions signed, starting this summer, the Isle of Palms will finally allow surf lessons to return to its beaches. The first year will stand as a trial period. Each surf instructor can only teach for a maximum of two hours a day, with only four students allowed in each lesson. “It’s not about the money or how big you can get your camps to be. It’s about safety and giving residents and tourists the ability to partake in a safe activity,” Busey said. “Although the rules are strict, it will allow the city to see who follows the rules and what regulations work and what don’t.” Additionally, the city passed an ordinance allowing for paddleboard lessons to be taught.
Phillip Antman, the co-owner of Salt Marsh Surf, couldn’t be more thrilled, “Our paddleboard lessons will give people the opportunity to cruise around looking at fish and dolphins while learning more about the ecosystem,” he says excitedly.
After years of hard work, surfers like Busey, Antman and the residents of Isle of Palms have finally had their voices heard, “We got a lot of support from the residents. We had people calling in and emailing the city council all the time. The city works for the citizens, and they finally had to listen to our voices,” Busey stated.